Friday, February 16, 2007

OR Leg Iraq Withdrawal Bill Moves to Cmte

As we noted at the time he announced his plans, Rep Chip Shields has taken the reins for Oregon in the movement at the state level towards declaring opposition to the Iraq escalation. After spending some time getting cleaned up in Legislative Council, the bill has emerged as House Joint Memorial 9 and got its first reading yesterday.

The timing of the bill's official entry into the legislative process couldn't be better; the House voted today on their own non-binding resolution, apparently to be followed by a series of more robust measures. Since the P-I was nice enough to publish statements from various NW Members, we'll stop to include what may be the first formal comment from Darlene Hooley on the matter:
We have not, and we are not now, winning this war and it is already the longest investment of combat troops since Vietnam. And into this tempest, this president seeks to introduce even more troops. Almost $500 billion spent: 3,125 killed, 25,000 wounded, and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians in casualties. Albert Einstein once suggested that true insanity is doing the same thing over and again, expecting a different result. There is a moment when wisdom demands change.
Good stuff, Darlene! Also today, the New York Times published a piece showing how state legislatures across the country are moving forward with their own resolutions on Iraq, hoping to influence and reassure lawmakers that the local public is against the escalation (which really shouldn't be necessary, given the readily available poll info {pdf} to that effect). Oregon would be the fourth such state to pass a resolution, but 18 others are preparing either bills or letters of disapproval. And I'd wager ours is one of the strongest, not only rejecting the escalation but also calling for withdrawal AND setting a timetable. The Trifecta of Defeatism, I'm sure the White House would say:
Be It Resolved by the Legislative Assembly of the State of
That we, the Seventy-fourth Legislative Assembly, on behalf of
the citizens of Oregon, urge the President to refrain from
escalating United States involvement in Iraq at a time when the
Iraq Study Group, leading military and diplomatic officials and
allies around the world are calling for the United States to
reduce the number of troops in Iraq and to withdraw from
operations; and be it further

Resolved, That we, the Seventy-fourth Legislative Assembly,
call on Congress not to approve this announced increase in the
number of troops deployed in Iraq, but instead to pass
legislation that prohibits the President from spending more
taxpayer dollars on such an escalation until such time as the
President obtains Congressional approval for the escalation; and
be it further

Resolved, That we, the Seventy-fourth Legislative Assembly,
urge the President, at a minimum, to obtain explicit approval
from Congress before sending more American troops to Iraq;
and be it further

Resolved, That we, the Seventy-fourth Legislative Assembly,
call on Congress and the President to announce an expedient plan
for the redeployment of the Armed Forces of the United States
from Iraq, to begin handing over military operations for the
security of Iraq to the elected government of Iraq and to begin
withdrawing United States forces from Iraq and redeploying those
forces as soon as possible, but not later than August 1, 2007.
Kick ass. You couldn't ask for much more than that. (Well, you could bug your legislator for a state request on official federal charges of impeachment to be brought in the US House under Jefferson's Manual, as New Mexico has already passed in one Senate committee so far--but let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?) So far all the sponsors are Democratic (save independent Avel Gordly), and it will be just as interesting to watch the roll call in Oregon's House, as it was in the country's. Greg Walden decided to stick with the President and hope his anti-war constituents don't notice; I wonder what state Republicans will do?

Although not officially announced, it is "very likely" that the bill will end up in Diane Rosenbaum's Rules, Ethics and Elections Committee. I asked spokesperson Patton Price to give me a head's up when the bill gets a prospective hearing date; at this stage they're not yet sure of the timing. Fortunately, Rosenbaum is herself a Chief Sponsor, which means it certainly won't languish, and may even get to step ahead of a couple other pending bills before committee. Let's hope the wheels move as quickly as possible on this one; the national debate is happening now, and Oregon needs to add its voice. We support the troops when we protect their lives from being wasted in a pointless battle.