In The House, Dems Opt For Simple, Up-or-down Iraq Resolution

The House will debate for three days next week a simple up-or-down resolution on the president's Iraq plan. A simple resolution had the most chance for holding the party's many views on the war together, concede progressive Democrats who advocate for much stronger action.

"I want the House of Representatives to step up," Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California, cochair of the 71-member-strong Congressional Progressive Caucus, tells U.S. News. "Do you or do you not agree? Why should we be nuancing it? It's not binding, anyway."

A House Democratic aide said that a resolution that included language barring any attempt to cut off funds for U.S. troops in the field would have been a "poison pill" for many progressive members in the House Democratic caucus. Those members had pushed for a simple up-or-down vote as "step 1" in the House action on Iraq, rather than any additional language along the lines of what Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Carl Levin of Michigan had proposed but never came up for debate in the Senate.

That resolution would have expressed disagreement with the president's plan, urged him to consider alternatives, and said that Congress should not take any action to defund troops already in the field.

"If the Warner resolution had been brought up in the House, then you would see a number of [Democratic] members objecting to it," the aide said. "Politically, it would be very trying."

The aide said that a simple resolution "has the best chance of holding the caucus together." But Woolsey and many other progressives have also sponsored a separate bill that goes much further. It would, among other things, call for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and military contractors from Iraq within six months of the bill's passage into law.

By Silla Brush