- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

House Democrats are upset with their Republican colleagues that they weren’t included in drafting a resolution praising U.S. troops in Iraq.

Resolution 557, marking the one-year anniversary of combat in Iraq, was authored by House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, and co-sponsored by the House Republican leaders.

Democrats said they should have been involved in drafting the resolution, or at least consulted about the language.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, remains undecided on the measure, spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said.

“The Republicans appear to be making this political, doing it on their own without any input from the Democrats,” Ms. Crider said.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, agreed, but said most Democrats favor the resolution.

“The resolution was not done in a bipartisan fashion, as I urged it to be done last Thursday,” Mr. Hoyer said. “However, based upon the two premises of congratulating our troops — I think there is unanimity on that — and respecting the brave Iraqis who are trying to work with us, and some are paying a horrific price for it, I think this resolution is a positive statement.”

The two-page document denounces Saddam Hussein, the deposed Iraqi leader, for using poison gas to kill 5,000 Kurds, filling 270 mass graves with 400,000 opponents, using rape as a political tool and creating an ecological disaster by draining the Arab marshlands.

The resolution praises the Iraqi people and their courage during the campaign to oust Saddam.

It also addresses the chronology of Saddam’s defiance of U.N. policies and the U.S. actions authorizing military force and “affirms that the United States and the world have been made safer with the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime from power in Iraq.”

That is the line that upsets some Democrats.

“If you talk to any foreign policy expert, they will tell you that’s not true,” one Democratic staffer said.

An undercurrent early in the week indicated that Democrats would unite to oppose the resolution, but Hoyer spokeswoman Stacey Farnen said that won’t happen. She said it will be up to individual House members to decide how to vote.

One Democratic staffer said the anniversary Friday of the beginning of the war is what is most likely driving the vote, but some Democrats are wondering whether the resolution is an election-year political ploy.

For Democrats who have opposed the war, a “no” vote on commending the troops could put them in a tough position in November.

Democrats and Republicans are looking to improve their standing in the House this year with all 435 seats open in November.

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