Five N.C. congressmen want out of Iraq | NEWS: Triangles | Indy Week
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Five N.C. congressmen want out of Iraq 

They supported an amendment to the defense spending bill that calls on the president to submit a plan for withdrawal

If you're keeping score, the number of North Carolina's members of Congress who've supported any of the various "get out of Iraq" initiatives floating around in Washington is now up to five. And two of the five are Republicans!

It's true. When Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) offered an amendment to the defense spending bill last week that would have called on President Bush to submit a plan to Congress for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, it lost by 300-128.

That sounds bad, but 128 is up from the previous number of 32, which is how many co-sponsors Woolsey had for an identically worded resolution she introduced in January.

And whereas only Rep. Mel Watt of Charlotte, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus, was with her from the N.C. delegation before, now Reps. David Price of Chapel Hill and Brad Miller of Raleigh, both Democrats, have joined up on the pro-withdrawal-plan side.

This is news: When the Independent canvassed them at the time of the anti-war rally in Fayetteville two months ago, neither Price nor Miller thought it appropriate to demand a plan for getting out of Iraq. Now, both do.

But not the Triangle's third Democratic member, Rep. Bob Etheridge, who voted no on the Woolsey amendment. Altogether, Democrats voted 122-79 in favor of the amendment.

The five Republicans (and one independent, Vermont's Bernie Sanders) who voted in favor included Rep. Howard Coble of Winston-Salem, who expressed his distaste for staying in Iraq months ago, and Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville), who was a big surprise.

Jones is the eastern North Carolina conservative who coined the phrase "freedom fries" back when he was rabidly pro-war and anti-French. But in the last week, he's done an almost-tearful about-face, telling the world he was wrong and the war was--and is--wrong.

Code Pink, the activist women's group, has been calling members for weeks on this issue, according to Raleigh coordinator Shannon Hardy, but even they were surprised by Price's and Miller's turnabout. Neither had indicated any change of heart.

Jones, though, was reported by one of his Code Pink constituents to be mortified by what's happening in Iraq and, as a consequence, willing to hear her out on a whole range of progressive issues. And Jones is writing personally to every U.S. family that's lost a son or daughter to the war, she reports.

Code Pink and the Progressive Democrats of America have cranked up their anti-war calling and petitioning to Congress. For information, see www.pdamerica.org/articles/news/iraq-exit-action.php .

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