- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

House Democrats yesterday debunked a Republican resolution recognizing the one-year anniversary of combat in Iraq that says the “world is safer without Saddam Hussein.”

Democrats called that affirmation “ridiculous” given recent terrorist attacks in Spain and the Middle East, not including a hotel bombing in Baghdad yesterday that killed 27 persons.

The resolution passed by a vote of 327-93 with seven members voting present. Two Republicans and the one independent joined the 90 Democrats to vote against the bill.

“With their resolution, the Republicans are in denial as to why we went into Iraq, in denial as to the current state of stability and security in Iraq, and are denying our men and women the benefits, the equipment and the quality intelligence that they deserve as they serve our country,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Resolution 557, submitted by House International Relations Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, praises the U.S. military and the courage of the Iraqi people in the fight to oust Saddam. It also condemns Saddam and lists the deposed Iraqi dictator’s atrocities against his country.

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

But the Republicans said a few words of contention were insignificant when compared with the tenor of the resolution as a whole, which was to praise the efforts of U.S. troops, the Iraqi people and the purpose of the war on the anniversary of its beginning March 19.

“In all my 14 years up here, I have never seen the Democratic leadership as petty as they have been about this, and if they want to talk about partisanship then I would ask that they first look within,” said Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, California Republican.

Democrats attempted to amend the resolution early in the day, but were unable to persuade Republicans to allow alterations. Republicans blocked amendments from being attached to the measure in a party-line vote of 228-195, with 11 not voting.

Much of the debate on the floor afterward was visceral, with party members shouting at each other, interrupting speeches and slinging accusations and voting records.

“I’m indignant, insulted and embarrassed that no one came to me and asked me about this resolution. I’m embarrassed that you would come up with a partisan resolution … without consultation with any Democrat,” said Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat.

Rep. Porter J. Goss, Florida Republican, said he was “sorry” Mr. Murtha was aggravated by the process, but added, “I was not consulted either. This was a leadership procedure.”

He was interrupted by Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, who said, “I say to [Mr. Goss], my good friend, that he is an original co-sponsor of the legislation. Now that said, my good friend had the privilege that Jack Murtha and I, and any other Democrat did not have, and that was to be a co-sponsor even if he wasn’t consulted.”

A Democratic aide Tuesday called the measure a political ploy, an assertion highlighted on the floor yesterday.

“This resolution was designed by political consultants to achieve a unanimous no vote from Democrats to be used to create negative ads to hurt us this year,” said Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat.

Mr. Hyde said personal feelings over who was and was not in the room conferring about what the resolution’s language and process were frivolous reasons to oppose the bill.

“Regardless of our disagreements on process and how we got here, I would argue that in the interests of, dare I say, patriotism and standing up for our country in this war … I would ask that everybody read the resolution. It is simple and straightforward,” Mr. Hyde said.

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