McNerney breaks from Bay Area pack on Iraq vote

mcnerneyportrait.jpgWhen legislation requiring withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within nine months was defeated in the House yesterday on a 255-171 vote, all but one Bay Area House member supported the bill. Somewhat surprisingly, the local loner was freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.

McNerney, you’ll remember, last November unseated former House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, with the support not only from environmental activists and groups but also from a fair number of antiwar liberals. His platform last year said: “For voters in the 11th Congressional District, the choice is between Richard Pombo’s support for indefinite occupation and my demand for a real plan that will end the occupation and strengthen our national security. … By securely redeploying our troops over the next year, we will put the Iraqis on notice that they need to be responsible for their own security and allow the international community to participate in rebuilding and stabilizing Iraq.”


Andy Stone, McNerney’s press secretary, told me this morning:

“H.R. 2237 included neither specific provisions to bring about a diplomatic solution to the war in Iraq, nor funding for the needs of this newly created generation of veterans. The supplemental bill, which Congressman McNerney supported for the third time, had both.

“He supported the supplemental because he believes it is the most responsible course to take and is the only way to ensure that Iraqis begin to take responsibility for Iraq.

“The supplemental plan provides the framework to end the conflict by achieving a diplomatic solution, which experts from across the political spectrum recognize is the only way to end the war responsibly.

“He saw it as a vote of conscience and supported what he considered to be the most effective method of bringing America’s involvement in the conflict to an end.”

Questions? You can ask McNerney yourself tomorrow, Saturday, May 12, as he holds his next “Congress at Your Corner” meet-and-greet from 2 to 3 p.m. at Mountain House Fire Department Station #98, 911 Tradition St. in Mountain House, just northwest of Tracy.

((UPDATE @ 11:33 P.M. FRIDAY: There’s a very lively discussion of McNerney’s vote at Calitics.com.))

Voting for the nine-month withdrawal plan were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo; Education & Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Pete Stark, D-Fremont; Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; and Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

The House instead passed legislation, on a 221-205 vote, to provide partial funding for the war but hold back most of the money until President Bush makes a progress report in July. Lee, Stark and Woolsey voted against this one; McNerney, Pelosi, Lantos, Miller, Tauscher, Eshoo, Lofgren and Honda voted for it.

Said Miller, of the defeated nine-month bill: “There is not enough support yet in Congress to pass this type of bill, but there is enough support in Congress to require a sharp change in course in Iraq and we will continue to push for that direction. I believe the support for immediate redeployment of US troops, and a new direction in Iraq is growing. And I have a strong feeling that come July, we will be much closer than we are now to our goal of ending this tragic war.”

Said Lee: “This was an historic vote and the strong showing in favor of redeploying our troops was a turning point. While this measure was defeated today, it will prevail.”

And Stark, said: “My constituents have been calling for withdrawal for years and I’m proud for vote for it on the House floor today.” Feel free to go ask Stark about it at one of the three town meetings he’s holding in his district tomorrow, Saturday, May 12:

  • 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. in the City Council Chambers at Fremont City Hall, 3300 Capitol Ave.
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. in the Dave Karp room at the San Leandro Public Library, 300 Estudillo Ave.
  • Noon – 1 p.m. in the multipurpose room at Bay Farm Elementary School, 200 Aughinbaugh Way in Alameda
  • Josh Richman

    Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.