Thursday, November 3, 2005

A House Democratic resolution condemning President Bush’s Iraq policies was killed yesterday as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid turned his latest political attacks on the war into a sales pitch to raise money for his party.

After a weeklong series of congressional skirmishes over the Iraq war, the Republican-controlled House voted 220-191 to dismiss a resolution by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, that demanded “a thorough investigation of abuses relating to the Iraq war.”

The measure accused Republican leaders of failing “to undertake a meaningful, substantive investigation of any of the abuses pertaining to the Iraq war, including the manipulation of prewar intelligence, the public release of a covert operative’s name, the role of the vice president in Iraqi reconstruction and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.”

Mrs. Pelosi’s action was the latest in a stepped-up offensive by the Democrats to put the Iraq war and rising U.S. casualties back on the political front burner, largely in response to demands from members of her party’s liberal anti-war base who have chided Democratic leaders for not attacking Mr. Bush and his party aggressively enough on the issue.

“I think it brings shame to the House for this Congress to be engaged in a cover-up when it comes to revealing what’s happening in Iraq,” Mrs. Pelosi said to a chorus of Republican objections from the House floor as her motion was ruled out of order.

At the same time, Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, who began the anti-Iraq war offensive Tuesday by forcing the Senate into a rare closed-door session to debate the conflict, solicited for funds via e-mail, asking party members to make “a contribution of $50, $75 or more” to help elect more Democrats to the Senate in next year’s elections.

Using the war and the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, as one of several pitches to ask for money, Mr. Reid wrote: “These are the same individuals who led us into an intractable war after manufacturing and manipulating intelligence, yet have no plan for success in Iraq.”

Republican officials immediately condemned Mrs. Pelosi’s resolution as “a political stunt” and attacked the Democrats’ exploitation of the war to raise money at a time when U.S. soldiers were fighting and dying in Iraq.

“Her comments are insincere and politically motivated to generate cheap headlines while American soldiers are defending freedom overseas,” said Ron Bonjean, the press secretary for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican.

“It is shocking and sad but not surprising to see the Democratic leadership willing to do anything to raise money, while our troops are in harm’s way, so they can win at the polls,” Mr. Bonjean said.

But in a separate fundraising solicitation, Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, called Mr. Reid’s Senate shutdown maneuver to call attention to the war “a bold move” that he said drew more than 10,000 “written notes of thanks to him in less than 24 hours” from the party’s activist base.

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