WASHINGTON – He was only one of only 11 members of Congress to oppose a resolution aimed at showing support for U.S. troops in Iraq, but Rep. Jim McDermott said it had nothing to do with his feelings for the men and women of the military.

“I wish it to be clearly understood that I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the courage, tenacity and dedication of those currently serving in Iraq and elsewhere,” the Seattle Democrat said Friday.

McDermott, an outspoken opponent of the war, said his vote was aimed at Republican leaders in Congress, who insisted on including support for President Bush in the resolution honoring the troops.

“Mr. Speaker, war is not a partisan matter,” McDermott said during debate on the measure.” The (House) leadership should be ashamed for bringing this to the floor. Everyone here wants to support an honest and straightforward resolution to support our troops. Don’t give us a dishonest resolution that confuses the issue by asking us to endorse the Bush Doctrine [of pre-emptive strike] that sent our troops to war.”

While lawmakers from both parties want to praise the troops, “I for one will not be forced to praise the president’s decisions,” McDermott said. “This war of choice undermines the international order and endangers our republic.”

But Republican leaders called the resolution an appropriate – and important – declaration of support for the soldiers, sailors and Marines doing battle against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

They said the resolution showed bipartisan congressional support for U.S. troops in Iraq – in contrast to the lack of support some soldiers felt during the Vietnam War.

The resolution passed overwhelmingly early Friday, but angered some Democrats who said they felt pressured into backing Bush’s decision to go to war. The resolution expressed “unequivocal support” of Bush ”for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq.”

The 392 – 11 House vote, with 22 members voting “present,” came after a sometimes angry and emotional debate that contrasted with the Senate, which passed the measure unanimously after a relatively mild discussion.

McDermott was the only member of Congress from the Pacific Northwest to oppose the resolution.

Lawmaker Calls War Resolution “Dishonest”
By Matthew Daly, Associated Press Writer

22 March 2003

From U.S. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia:

“To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war. Yet this chamber is, for the most part, silent—ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing….

“We are truly ‘sleepwalking through history.’ In my heart of hearts, I pray that this great nation and its good and trusting citizens are not in for the rudest of awakenings.

“I must truly question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive, unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is ‘in the highest moral traditions of our country.’ This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making.”

-- on the Senate floor, February 12, 2003.