Minnesota delegation has its say on Iraq resolution
Minnesota's House members have had taken their turns during the debate over President Bush's proposal to send more troops to Iraq. Only two of the eight members say they support the president's plan. A House vote on the non-binding resolution is expected sometime Friday.
Washington D.C. — Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to vote Friday on a resolution opposing President Bush's plan to increase the number of troops serving in Iraq. All eight of Minnesota's House members expressed their opinions about the resolution this week.
Only two, Republicans Michele Bachmann and John Kline, spoke against the resolution. The other six -- Republican Jim Ramstad and DFLers Collin Peterson, Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz and Jim Oberstar -- spoke in favor of the resolution.
Bachmann brought up the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bachmann said there can be no doubt that the war in Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism, and she said the terrorists must be defeated.
"Their brand of evil chooses to kill the greatest number of innocent civilians. They are a cruel enemy. They are unwavering in their resolve to seek the total annihilation of the United States of America, and of our freedoms and of our Western allies."
During her five-minute speech, Bachmann never specificially said she opposed the resolution, but she said surrender is not an option.
McCollum spoke in favor of the resolution, noting that the fifth year of action in Iraq begins next month.
"This resolution puts Congress in step with the American people, in rejecting the presidents'e escalation of the war," said McCollum. "It sends a clear message to President Bush that he is increasingly isolated in believing that Iraq's future can only be salvaged by sending more Americans into their civil war."
DFLer Keith Ellison took his turn at the podium Thursday to support the resolution. He says troop surges have been tried unsuccessfully in the past, and now it's time to try something different.
"There comes a time when you cannot get the success you seek at the barrel of a gun. You have to talk it out. You have to engage diplomatically. You have to engage politically. There is no substitute for that," said Ellison.
Democrat Collin Peterson spoke in favor of the resolution, saying the situation in Iraq is a mess.
"I've given this president the benefit of the doubt on more than one occasion," said Peterson. "But his plan to send in more trops doesn't pass the test of common sense. If a short-term surge was going to deliver victory and democraty in Iraq, we would have already done it."
Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, a National Guard veteran, spoke a total of three times -- his last statement came Thursday afternoon. Walz said that Congress can't stand on the sideline in the face of Bush's escalation plan.
"Constant vigilance, questioning and adjustments to courses of action are our No. 1 priority, and this newly elected Congress intends to do just that," said Walz.
Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad spoke Wednesday morning in favor of the resolution, which condemns President Bush's plan to send 21,000 additional troops to Iraq.
Ramstad said he is surprised and disappointed that President Bush has not taken the advice of his top military advisers, all of whom are opposed to sending more troops to Iraq.
"The original mission of the Iraq war was to liberate the country and turn it over to the Iraqi people. We need to get back to that original mission," Ramstad said. "U.S. troops should get back to the original mission of training Iraqi security forces so they can secure their own country."
Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar echoed those sentiments during his remarks Wednesday afternoon.
"Our president is having trouble understanding the message from the American people," said Oberstar. "It's a simple message -- time to bring our troops home with honor."
Oberstar said the original mission of the Iraqi invasion has been accomplished, and it's time for the U.S. to allow the Iraqi government to provide for its country's security.
Republican John Kline, a former U.S. Marine, defended the administration plan and spoke against the resolution.
Kline said the troops "need us to fund reinforcements, equipment and supplies. They don't need us to dictate strategy and tactics from Washington."
Kline said Democrats "intend for this resolution to be the first step on the path to defunding our troops, withdrawing them, and allowing Iraq to become a chaotic, ungoverned space that will act as a training ground for al-Qaeda."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)