US House votes Iraq troop withdrawal

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Washington, Nov 15: The Democratic-led US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq, defying President George W Bush by tying the measure to 50 billion dollars in new war funds.

By a vote of 218-203, the House sent the controversial plan to the Senate, where it faced an uphill fight as Republicans have vowed to block it.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called on Congress to send Bush a ''clean'' emergency funding bill, without withdrawal dates.

''If legislation comes to the president in this form, he will certainly veto it,'' Perino said in a statement after the House vote.

The House vote came on the same day that an explosion in Baghdad brought more US casualties, adding to what already was the Iraq war's bloodiest year for American forces.

The House bill, backed by four Republicans, is similar to a plan Bush vetoed in May that would have begun the immediate withdrawal of some US combat troops from Iraq, who have been fighting there since March 2003.

By December. 15, 2008, all American combat soldiers would be out. In a disappointment to liberal Democrats, that date would be a nonbinding goal.

''It will set parameters and it will say, 'Mr President, we need to change policies,''' said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.

Anti-war Democrats increasingly are challenging their leaders to withhold any more money for the war unless new conditions are placed on Bush, who has talked about a long-term military commitment in Iraq.

In warning of a presidential veto, the administration said it opposes setting any ''arbitrary date'' for withdrawal. The Democrats' bill ''unwisely abandons the cause of freedom and stability in the West Asia,'' it said.


REUTERS>

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