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Several House Republicans call for debate on Iraq war, breaking with GOP leadership

John Byrne
Published: Wednesday April 5, 2006

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Four Republican members of Congress are calling on the House GOP leadership to hold a floor debate on the Iraq war, RAW STORY has learned.

Three of the Republicans announced at a press conference today that they would sign H. Res 543, a "discharge petition" being pushed by anti-war groups that would force a debate on the House floor over the objections of House GOP leadership. In order to force the debate, the petition needs 218 members' signatures.

One Republican signing on is Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who famously helped coin the term "Freedom Fries" after France declined to support U.S. war efforts in Iraq. Since then, he has become a critic of the handling of Iraq and has sought greater discussion of the challenges and strategies for winning in the war.

Three other members have also agreed to sign -- Rep. Wayne Gilcrest (R-MD), Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian maverick.

During the press conference today, Leach said that he had spoke to other members of his caucus about the move. Other members, he said, are cautious, but they have not been critical.

Of late, more Republican members of Congress have said the Iraq war and President Bush's approval ratings are becoming liabilities to their reelection campaigns.

"The big Achilles heel for the Republicans are the president's approval rating and the war in Iraq," Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, a former chairman of the Republicans' congressional campaign committee, told USA Today Wednesday. "It shapes up in the atmospherics to be a pretty good year to be a Democrat."

The push for the petition is being led by a former Democratic congressman, who leads a coalition of various groups under an umbrella organization, "Win Without War."

"After three years and the loss of more than 2,300 American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens, it is time for Congress to do what they were elected to do—debate the Bush war in Iraq and consider all alternatives," said Win Without War National Director and former Congressman Tom Andrews (D-ME).

Win Without War members include: 20/20 Vision, American Friends Service Committee, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, Center for International Policy, Citizens for Global Solutions, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Council for a Livable World, Families USA, Feminist Majority, Fourth Freedom Forum, Global Exchange, Greenpeace, Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), MoveOn, NAACP, National Council of Churches, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Council of Churches, NETWORK A National Social Justice Lobby, Pax Christi USA, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), Rainbow/Push Coalition, Shalom Center, Sierra Club, Sojourners, Soulforce, The Tikkun Community, True Majority, Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, Us Foundation, USAction, Veterans for Peace, Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) and Working Assets.

Organizers say representatives from several major media organizations -- including CNN, the New York Times and Roll Call -- attended the press conference.