Murtha is pushing a new plan, one that doesn't put a hard deadline on the exit of Iraq, but calls for the redeployment to begin around November of this year.
Rep. John Murtha, a moderate Pennsylvania Democrat and longtime critic of the war, said he would propose that in an amendment to a defense spending bill for the fiscal year starting October 1, expected on the House floor next week.
The bill providing $459.6 billion for defense was approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
Murtha said some Republicans on Capitol Hill, backed by the White House, have advocated reducing U.S. troops in Iraq to 70,000 from the current level of nearly 160,000.
While he opposes leaving any U.S. troops behind, Murtha said he'll bring an amendment to the House floor next week that requires the White House to start redeployment within 60 days of enactment, without setting a deadline for completion.
"I'm hearing signals. They (Republicans) are trying to work out a deal where we leave 70,000 troops over there ... That's the White House telling them to do that, I'm convinced," he told reporters.
"I'm hoping there will be an agreement between Democrats and Republicans and the Senate and the House and the White House and I think you'll see that happen. I think you'll see that happen by September, October," he said.
The House of Representatives has voted three times this year for timetables to end U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, but similar provisions have stalled in the more closely divided Senate amid strong resistance from the White House.
Murtha said pressure from liberal Democrats in the House could still force a pullout deadline to be added to his proposal.
"I know they get so much pressure from the public. The public wants us the hell out of there," he said.
But he hoped to get Republicans on side who don't want to telegraph the final U.S. departure date to enemies attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.
His amendment also would require the Bush administration to draft a "regional stability plan for the Middle East" including a description of projected U.S. military presence in the area for the next five years.
I like the idea of leaving a deadline off, and allowing the plan to adjust to real-world conditions on the ground. Maybe once the redeployment begins we'll find that redeployment can be accelerated -- maybe it'll go slower than expected -- but leaving the deadline off allows for mid-course adjustments based on actual conditions, rather than arbitrary political goal posts.
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