WASHINGTON -- The House yesterday approved a simple four-point resolution praising US troops and the Iraqi people on the first anniversary of the war in Iraq, but only after a raucous debate over whether the war was warranted and had made the world a safer place.
Democrats said the Republican-written measure was aimed at endorsing President Bush's flawed policies, while Republicans said the removal of Saddam Hussein was an unequivocal victory in the war against terrorism.
The measure passed, 327-93, with numerous Democrats displeased with the way it was crafted. Many said they voted yes as a show of support for American troops.
It "really sends a message to the world that this country stands resolute in celebration of the first anniversary of our commitment to Iraq," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois.
But Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California spoke of the "hypocrisy and inconsistency" of the Republicans in honoring American troops while advancing a budget that Democrats say doesn't provide enough for military operations in Iraq.
The measure was subject to some six hours of debate. It listed the acts of terrorism and crimes perpetrated by the Hussein regime, and it concluded with four points:
The world has been made safer by Hussein's ouster.
The House commends the Iraqi people for their courage in the face of Hussein's oppression.
The House commends Iraqis for their interim constitution.
The House commends US and coalition forces for their valiant service.
"Americans should be proud that we are again confronting an evil threat to the Western world," said Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California.
Democrats stressed their gratitude to the troops but questioned the idea that the military action in Iraq had reduced threats from America's enemies. "Our mission in Iraq has not been accomplished," said Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland. "Even as we speak here, a car bomb has rocked Baghdad and killed more than 20 people."
Democrats also were angry that the resolution was written without their input. "I'm indignant, I'm insulted, and I'm embarrassed," said Representative John Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania, a defense specialist who normally works closely with pro-defense Republicans. He voted against the resolution.
Democrats wanted to offer a substitute bill stating that "a final judgment on the value of activities in Iraq cannot be made until Iraq is stable and secure." They also wanted to add language assuring that troops in Iraq would receive the armored vehicles they need to keep them safe and urging the president to "take steps to correct he failure of the United States government to plan adequately for the postwar occupation of Iraq."
But Representative David Dreier, Republican of California, countered that US action had "brought freedom for tens of millions, toppled one of the most despicable regimes in the history of the world, and strengthened . . . national security" in the United States.