Welch would support Iraq withdrawl plan with timetable

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(Host) Congressman Peter Welch says he’ll support a new House Democratic plan to end the war in Iraq as long as the final version includes a definite timetable for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops over the next 18 months.

Welch says the proposal will help accelerate diplomatic and political efforts to end sectarian violence in that country.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Under the legislation, all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the summer of 2008 but it also includes a provision to bring them home even sooner.

If the Bush Administration can’t verify progress on meeting a variety of military, economic and military benchmarks by this summer, all troops would be brought home by the end of this year.

Welch says the most important step Congress can take right now is to set a specific timetable for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops:

(Welch) “We must have a deadline and the president has already said that he will veto any bill with a deadline. I won’t support any bill without a deadline. This war has got to end and it’s clear that the Iraqis have to be put on notice that they’ve got to set up and assume responsibility. And it’s increasingly clear that the President of the United States needs a deadline. The President’s desire to simply punt this responsibility to the next President is unacceptable.”

(Kinzel) Even if the House passes this legislation, it’s unlikely it will ever become law.

First, backers of the bill would have to garner 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a potential filibuster – and if the legislation passed the Senate, it would face a certain veto from President Bush.

Senator Patrick Leahy says it would be extremely difficult to override a presidential veto:

(Leahy) “The irony is the President could stop this with a stroke of the pen today for the congress to get a veto proof piece of legislation to do it, which would mean two thirds of the Congress. I don’t see that happening even though I think more than two thirds of the American people would like to see it happen.”

(Kinzel) The legislation could be on the House floor for debate by the end of the month.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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