Troop withdrawl debate scheduled for next week

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(Host) Vermont lawmakers are scheduled to debate a resolution early next week that calls for “the immediate and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.”

Backers of the plan say it’s important for the Vermont Legislature to send a clear message to Congress about the need to end the war.

Opponents of the resolution are concerned that the measure sends the wrong message to Vermont troops.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The debate in the Vermont Legislature comes at a time when Congress is also getting ready to vote on this issue.

The resolution that will be considered in both the Vermont House and Senate next week opposes President Bush’s plan to increase the number of combat troops in Iraq. It says “the state of Vermont believes that an escalation of American troops in Iraq is exactly the wrong foreign policy direction.”

The resolution goes on to criticize the Bush Administration for failing to develop an exit strategy in Iraq and it says the nearly 400 billion dollars appropriated for the war will have “a significant impact on Vermont households and the Vermont state budget process for years to come.”

Chittenden senator Ginny Lyons is the lead sponsor of the Senate resolution:

(Lyons) “It’s time to look at this from a human perspective and to think about the moral consequences of what we’re doing. So we would like to send a message to the Administration and to our congressional delegation that it’s time to plan for the orderly withdrawal of troops from Iraq.”

(Kinzel) Some lawmakers feel it’s wrong for the Vermont legislature to take positions on foreign policy issues – Lyons strongly disagrees with that assessment.

(Lyons) “We’re spending time on it because we’re talking about Vermonters. We’re talking about Vermonters who are giving their lives in a war that has gone beyond its time. So we’re talking about the morality that’s involved and Vermonters, I think, want our troops home.”

(Kizel) Rutland senator Kevin Mullin says it’s likely he’ll vote against the resolution because he’s concerned that it sends the wrong message:

(Mullin) “I just don’t want the Vermonters who are serving overseas to somehow misinterpret it to mean that we don’t support them even though a lot of us didn’t agree with the decision initially to go over there I think that now that we’re there we have an obligation to those who have served and gave great sacrifice to try to finish the job that’s been started.”.

(Kinzel) The Senate Economic Development committee gave its approval to the resolution on Friday – which means the proposal could be on the floor for debate as early as Tuesday.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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