Congressman Peter Welch says it’s critical for Congress to continue to push for legislation to end the war in Iraq, even though the bills face a certain veto from President Bush.
Welch says the recent surge in troops in Iraq has been a military success and a political failure.
VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) Late Wednesday night, the U.S. House gave its approval to legislation that authorizes an additional $50 billion for the war in Iraq but the legislation includes some major restrictions.
First, it says the money should be used only on efforts to wind down the war, and second, it calls on President Bush to withdraw most U.S. troops by the end of 2008.
The legislation passed largely along partisan lines – most Democrats voted for it – most Republicans opposed it.
It faces a very uncertain future in the U.S. Senate because it’s likely that Republicans have enough votes to filibuster the bill and prevent it from ever coming to the floor for a vote.
Although Congressional Democrats have been thwarted in their efforts to change the direction of the war, Welch says it’s important to keep the pressure on:
(Welch) "It’s very hard to be optimistic but I believe the responsibility that I have and we have in Congress is to pass legislation that reflects what we believe. And that is, that the war should end and if we have to go back to the President with that same legislation restating that we want to bring our troops home, and he vetoes it, we have to go back and say it again. I think we’ve got to make a clear stand on behalf of the people of Vermont and the people of this country that want to change the direction."
Welch says some Congressional Republicans believe that the recent so called "Surge of troops" in Iraq has been a success and they argue it’s a sign that the United States should continue to have a strong military presence in Iraq.
Welch says they’re only half right:
(Welch)"The whole point of the surge- and people must remember this- was not for military purposes. It was to provide political opportunities for a political process to begin, and it hasn’t happened. And the bottom line here is the American soldier and the American taxpayer can’t be expected to forever shoulder the burden that’s the fundamental responsibility of the Iraqi political leadership and they haven’t budged."
If Congress fails to pass an Iraq War funding bill by the end of the year, the Pentagon will be forced to dip into other funds to pay for a continuation of the war effort.
For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.