US House wants Bush to present troop withdrawal plans

By Xinhua

Washington : The US House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to require President George W. Bush to present plans on eventual withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

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By a vote of 377 to 46, the House approved the bill requiring President Bush to report to Congress in 60 days and every 90 days thereafter, on the status of its redeployment plans in Iraq.

The Democratic party-led House has passed a sheaf of bills calling for a pullback from Iraq, but without the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.

As the first compromise made on the Democrats-proposed bill concerning the war policy, Republicans said they agreed to back it up because it encourages Pentagon contingency planning already under way and does not mandate troop withdrawals.

However, Congress is still about to witness another battle with the White House when it votes on the government’s request for emergency Iraq funding of $190 billion.

Earlier in the day, three senior Democratic senators proposed a plan to raise taxes to pay for the bill of $150 billion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008.

“If this war is important enough to fight, then it ought to be important enough to pay for,” said David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who sponsored the plan.

“By putting together this bill we hope people will stop ignoring what this war is costing American taxpayers and call the president’s bluff on fiscal responsibility,” he said.

The tax plan requires low- and middle-income taxpayers to add two percent and wealthier people add a 12 to 15 percent to their tax bill, which incurred opposition from Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican congressmen.

“Just as I have opposed the war from the outset I am opposed to a war surtax,” she said.

The war in Iraq is costing the US about $10 billion a month, while Afghanistan and other missions need about $2 billion a month, according to official statistics.