WASHINGTON (AP) _ Three leading House anti-war Democrats said Wednesday they now back a $50 billion bill that funds the war but calls for most troops home by December 2008.
Their support paves the way for the bill's passage later Wednesday. The trio, California Reps. Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters, represent a liberal anti-war caucus that last week expressed opposition to the measure on the grounds it was too soft and did not demand an end to combat.
The bill requires that President Bush initiate troop withdrawals within 30 days of its passage with the goal of bringing home most soldiers and Marines by Dec. 15, 2008. A provision added to the bill notes that money in the measure is available for ``a safe and orderly redeployment'' of U.S. troops.
``While this bill is not perfect, it is the strongest Iraq bill to date,'' the trio wrote in a joint statement. ``This is the first time that this Congress has put forth a bill that ties funding to the responsible redeployment of our troops, and it also includes language mandating a start date for the president to begin the redeployment of our brave men and women.''
Woolsey, Lee and Waters said they remained disappointed the 2008 date was a nonbinding goal that Bush could ignore. But, they said they realized the provision made it more likely that the Senate could pass it.
``This is a concrete step in the right direction, and an important marker for this Congress to lay down,'' they wrote.
Similar legislation has repeatedly passed along party lines in the House only to sink in the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority and 60 votes are needed to overcome procedural hurdles.