- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Democratic congressional leaders vowed today to keep the House debate over the war in Iraq going until midnight, despite a dangerous ice storm that closed the federal government and schools throughout the area.

Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, answered with an emphatic “no” when asked if Congress might end debate early over a nonbinding resolution that would oppose the president’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.

The federal government, along with local governments and school systems, closed at 2 p.m. in the face of freezing rain and falling temperatures.

“The men and women in Iraq are not shutting down because of rain, sleet, snow, cold, hot, sandstorm. We’re going to be here and we’re going to do our work,” Mr. Hoyer said.

Mr. Hoyer said earlier in the day that the House will debate until midnight for three days straight before a vote is taken on Friday. All 435 House member were offered the chance to speak for five minutes on the war, but not all are expected to take it.

The resolution of less than 100 words is symbolic in nature and expresses support for U.S. troops in Iraq, while also expressing opposition to sending more soldiers to the conflict, a plan President Bush outlined a month ago.

Majority Whip James Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, said that about 20 to 25 Republicans have said they oppose the troop surge, but said he does not know if they will all vote for the resolution opposing the surge. A handful of Democrats are expected to vote against the measure.

Democratic leaders announced that they would not allow Republicans to offer amendments to the resolution after Senate debate on a similar resolution last week fell apart.

Mr. Hoyer said that shutting out Republicans is “the only way to make a very clear, unambiguous statement.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said the resolution will pave the way for Democrats to begin restricting the White House’s use of funds for the war, with an eye to gradually ending U.S. involvement in Iraq.

“In a few days, and in fewer than 100 words, we will take our country in a new direction on Iraq,” she said, in a six-minute speech that began the 36 hours of debate just after noon. “A vote of disapproval will set the stage for additional Iraq legislation, which will be coming to the House floor.”

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