House, Senate pass resolutions supporting troops

The Senate and House voted Thursday and early Friday, respectively, in favor of resolutions backing U.S. troops fighting in Iraq.

The Senate voted 99-0 to commend and support the president, the armed forces and family members of those called to serve.

Debate on the House resolution, which was more detailed in its indictment of Saddam Hussein and support of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism efforts, was more contentious. The measure eventually passed on a 392-11 vote, with 22 members voting present.

Aides to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., traded draft resolution language Thursday afternoon.

DeLay said a disagreement among House Democrats was responsible for a delay in crafting the resolution. "I never thought we would have any trouble supporting our troops," he said.

A DeLay spokesman said Democrats were balking at language that stated Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was in "material breach" of U.N. disarmament resolutions and that characterized the action against Iraq as a battle in the "war on terrorism."

Pelosi told CongressDaily that Republicans had not allowed Democratic input into drafting the resolution.

"We would like some part in writing the resolution," she said. "We're going to support the troops."

Pelosi said Republicans were insisting on eight or nine "whereas" clauses, and only one of them referenced U.S. forces.

"If we're going to support our troops, we should have some language supporting our troops," Pelosi said.

In a letter to Pelosi and Democratic leaders, Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, said Democrats "should not equivocate in our support" for U.S. troops, regardless of their differences with Bush administration policy.

"With our military now engaged in war with Iraq, I believe it is absolutely essential that we send a strong, concise message to our troops and to the American people that we stand united in support of our armed forces and their mission," Frost wrote.

Frost articulated a position held by more conservative members of the Democratic Party.

Internal Democratic debate about the war spilled out into the public Thursday when Rep. Jim Marshall, a conservative Georgia Democrat, crashed a news conference held by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, in opposition to the war.

Invited up to the microphone, Marshall shocked his colleagues by opining, "The time for debate is past."

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