Vermont lawmakers to debate troop increase plan

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(Host) The Bush Administration’s plan to increase combat troops in Iraq will be debated this week by Vermont lawmakers in Montpelier and by members of Congress in Washington.

In the U.S. House, all 435 members will be given an opportunity to discuss this issue.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The language of the non-binding resolution in the U.S. House is quite simple.

The proposal supports the troops who are serving in Iraq and it opposes the President’s plan to send an additional 20,000 combat soldiers to that country.

Congressman Peter Welch says he strongly supports this resolution:

(Welch) “This is an historic moment. We must end this war. This resolution amounts essentially to a vote of no confidence’ in the recommendations of the president to intensify the military approach and a stated preference for moving into diplomatic and political negotiations.”

(Kinzel) Welch acknowledges that the non-binding resolution will have little impact on the President’s policies. That’s why he says he’s also supporting specific legislation to terminate U.S. military involvement in Iraq by the end of the year:

(Welch) “It’s a first step. I support legislation that has teeth. I believe we’ve got to make it very clear that we have no intention of having long-term military bases, we have no intention of turning over the oil to American oil companies, that we want to redeploy our troops and bring them home within 6 months. So we have to take concrete steps down the road. But this is the first opportunity that we have.”

(Kinzel) At the Statehouse in Montpelier, the House and Senate on Tuesday are both scheduled to debate an Iraq war resolution.

The Vermont resolution goes further that the congressional plan because it also calls for the immediate, orderly withdrawal of American troops in Iraq.

Chittenden senator Ginny Lyons is the lead sponsor of the Senate resolution. Lyons says the measure is designed to send a message to Washington that the time has come to end the war.

Lyons says more than $400 billion has already been spent on the war – a war she says that was based on false assumptions.

(Lyons) “That’s really what it says. And the costs are just too high. I mean we’re projecting costs for Vermont alone will be $750 million dollars. But that doesn’t even begin to talk about the disproportionate costs that we have for Vermonters who have been lost during this action.”

(Kinzel) It’s not clear at this time if an effort will be made to try to amend this resolution during the floor debate. The resolution has 18 sponsors in the Senate and roughly 75 sponsors in the House.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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