House lawmakers Wednesday strongly rejected a proposal to rapidly withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq, a move supporters say was designed to force public debate on America’s 10 months of unauthorized military operations against Islamic militants in the region.
Critics called the move a blunt and potentially dangerous military reversal for the 3,500-plus U.S. troops now working alongside Iraqi security forces in the region. It would have required the removal of all personnel within 30 days, with caveats for a potential six-month delay in that deadline to ensure their safety.
The measure failed, 193 to 288, with only 19 Republicans backing the idea and 66 Democrats blocking the move.
Resolution sponsor Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., noted that airstrikes and military advisory missions have been running for more than 300 days without permission from Congress, despite multiple requests to the White House for a new authorization for use of military force.
“This resolution would have no standing if we had an AUMF,” McGovern said. “What do we have to do to force the leadership to bring one to the floor? I don’t know what else it will take to force this issue.”
Lawmakers have sparred over the subject since February, when President Obama offered his own draft authorization language to Congress. Conservatives complained that proposal was too limiting, while Democrats worried the president’s measure could too easily lead to endless involvement in another Middle East war.