RECENT VOTES

H.R. 4156: the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act

November 14, 2007

On Wednesday November 14, 2007 the House considered H.R. 4156: the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act of 2008. As you may recall, President Bush has requested an additional $200 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House did not take up the whole package this week, instead choosing to consider a portion of the original request, $ 50 billion of the original $ 200 billion, and to attach serious constraints.

H.R. 4156 requires that troops be redeployed from Iraq no later than 30 days after enactment of the legislation, with a goal of completing redeployment by December 15, 2008. H.R. 4156 also prescribes a mission change from primarily combat operations to a more limited focus on protection of diplomatic entities and security forces, training of Iraqi security forces, and targeted counterterrorism against al-Qaeda. Furthermore, H.R. 4156 prohibits the deployment of any troops not fully trained and equipped, unless the President signs a national security waiver.

There is an explicit prohibition of torture. The bill requires that all United States personnel, including all government agencies, must follow the Army Field Manual on appropriate interrogation methods. The language included in H.R. 4156 mirrors language contained in H.R. 4114, the American Anti-Torture Act, which I am proud to co-sponsor along with 60 of my colleagues. It guarantees that detainees in U.S. custody will be treated according to the high and fair standards we ideally expect from the United States.

The President threatened to veto H.R. 4156, as he has done with virtually every Iraq-related bill passed by the House. Just today, Senate Democrats could not muster enough votes in that chamber to take up the House-passed bill. A motion to consider H.R. 4156 failed by a vote of 53-45.

I am deeply frustrated and saddened by the lack of significant progress thus far on ending the war in Iraq. I know that many of you share my frustration. As you know, the House has passed a number of bills, like H.R. 4156, that directly address withdrawal but they do not make it past the Senate.

I would like an immediate end to the war in Iraq, with the redeployment of troops beginning as quickly as possible and ending as soon as militarily feasible. Votes have been taken in the House on this approach, and, as I am sure you are aware, we failed to gain a majority. The votes just aren't there yet to achieve this goal. That doesn't mean Congress should stop trying to force an end to this war. I voted against the Iraq war and supported every proposal to end it. I supported H.R. 4156 because it requires redeployment and ties a substantial mission change to the funding. Virtually every Member of the Progressive and Out of Iraq Caucuses voted for this bill because we believed it was our best chance this year to force the President to change his policy and begin a redeployment from Iraq. I voted YES. The entire vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
DEMOCRAT

214

15

1

3

REPUBLICAN

4

188

0

8

TOTAL

218

203

1

11

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

10

0

0

0

--

Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208