Eleven House Republicans split from their party Wednesday to oppose escalating the Iraq war, and an anonymous GOP representative said the leadership has 50 to 60 more on a defection watch list. The minority hopes to get its revenge when it comes time to debate funding for the war, but the Democrats have a plan for the showdown, which John Murtha unveiled on Thursday.
Republicans think the funding debate will unite their party and expose deep fissures among the Democrats, some of whom want immediate action to deny funding to the war effort. But Democratic leaders have rallied around a strategy that would fully fund the president’s $100 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but would limit his ability to use the money.
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense, will formally outline the Democrats’ plan today to antiwar groups agitating for binding action against the war. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), a subcommittee member who helped arrange the Internet event, said the plan is aimed at tamping down calls from the Democrats’ liberal wing for Congress to simply end funding for the war.
The Murtha plan, based on existing military guidelines, includes a stipulation that Army troops who have already served in Iraq must be granted two years at home before an additional deployment, Marines must be given 14 months at home, and any troops sent to Iraq must be those deemed fully trained and equipped under existing military standards. The idea is to slowly choke off the war by stopping the deployment of troops from units that have been badly degraded by four years of combat.
“They won’t be able to deploy troops unless they extend troops overseas. And if we limit the extension, then it’ll be very difficult for them to continue this surge, which the American people are against and the Iraqis don’t want,” Murtha said [Wednesday] on National Public Radio.