Saturday, March 22, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

E-mail article     Print

McDermott backs troops, not president

Seattle Times Washington bureau

WASHINGTON — In the wee hours yesterday morning, Congress passed a resolution expressing support for President Bush and the troops.

It was the part about supporting the president that irked Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, who joined 10 other Democrats in rejecting the measure, which passed 392-11.

McDermott and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, co-sponsored a Democrat-backed resolution that supported just the troops. The measure had 70 other co-sponsors, but never made it to the floor.

Instead, Congress adopted a resolution that applauded Bush "for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq.... "

Inslee, who has opposed the administration on Iraq, voted for the Republican resolution, though "there was some language that gave me heartburn," he said.

In a speech transcript posted on his Web site, McDermott told Congress: "The (House) leadership should be ashamed for bringing this to the floor. Everyone here wants to support an honest and straightforward resolution to support our troops. Don't give us a dishonest resolution that confuses the issue by asking us to endorse the Bush Doctrine that sent our troops to war.... I for one will not be forced to praise the President's decision, when what I want to do is praise the troops."

McDermott could not be reached for further comment yesterday.

Explaining his vote, Inslee said his desire to support the troops outweighed his opposition to the president. "Nineteen-year-old young people sitting in the desert needed an expression that we cared about them," he said.

McDermott tussled with Republicans several times Thursday and yesterday as the House passed a $2.2 trillion budget and the Iraq resolution. At one point, he took the floor to criticize the lack of food aid to Iraq in the Republican budget, making biblical references.

"My colleagues know that the Lord Jesus Christ went up on the Sermon on the Mount there, and he gave this sermon and said that you should feed the poor," McDermott said.

"This is a country where we spent $4.5 billion bombing them, and we can only come up with $300 million a year to rebuild them. Tell me how the Sermon on the Mount figures into that. Do my colleagues think that is what Jesus would want us to be doing?"

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, later countered: "The gentleman from Washington mentioned Jesus Christ in this budget, and I kind of think Jesus Christ would have liked it."

The Republican budget passed 215-212.

Alex Fryer: 206-464-8124 or


Get home delivery today!