True to his "ultraconservative" reputation, new U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs stubbornly opposed a resolution criticizing President Bush's plans for a "surge" of troops to Iraq.
The two-sentence resolution, which the House passed late last week in a 246-182 vote, vows Congress will "continue to support and protect" the roughly 135,000 military forces currently in Iraq, but "disapproves of the decision" by Bush to send in another 21,500 troops.
As 17 Republicans joined all but two Democrats in passing the resolution, Colorado's seven representatives split predictably along party lines.
The vote was the first time lawmakers debated Iraq since overwhelmingly granting Bush in 2002 the authority to go to war.
"I think the message that it sends all the way around is one of weakness and uncertainty," Lamborn said earlier this week.
It's too early, he added, to say when the war should end.
Many argue Iraq is in the throes of a civil war that a surge won't cure, including presidential hopeful Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who only voted against the resolution because it appears to undermine presidential powers.
Lamborn disagreed, characterizing the violence in Iraq as "almost more of a criminal conspiracy than an uprising of the whole population, which would be more of what I think of as a civil war."
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., argued prior to the vote that the presence of U.S.-led troops is provoking violence, and he is rumored to be crafting a plan that would bring the war to a grinding halt. The congressman will seek to attach language to the $93 billion supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, restricting deployment of troops unless they have adequate training, personnel and equipment, according to politico.com. He could also seek to limit the time and number of deployments by soldiers.
Such tactics, along with reports that Democrats could reduce funding for troops, represent potential "micromanagement," Lamborn said.
"I do not favor maneuvers that are only intended to hamper the president's ability to wage war... [Democrats] just want to hamstring the president," Lamborn said.
Some, such as Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., voted for the resolution, citing concerns of top commanders. Lamborn said Bush and commanders now in Iraq support the surge as the "best way toward stability."
Lamborn had no significant criticisms of the president's plan, but added there is no guarantee the surge will accomplish its goal.
"Only time will tell," he said.
Lamborn talked about recently viewing Iraq intelligence available only to Congress, saying, "It only confirmed to me that this is a serious situation and that there are no guarantees, and we can do the right things and still see the situation continue to deteriorate."
Lamborn admitted that prior to the vote, he didn't know the split among people contacting the office of his 5th Congressional District, which includes El Paso County and mountain communities west of Colorado Springs.
"They were in the process of tabulating that before I made my speech," he said.
The split was 70 opposed to the surge and 15 for it, Lamborn spokesman Chris Harvin confirmed. Lamborn said that information wouldn't have made a difference.
"I made my speech because I felt it was the right thing to do," he said, "not based on what the phone calls were coming in."
In their own words
Selected text from statements Colorado representatives made in debate over last week's nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's proposed troop surge in Iraq. The state's Democrats voted for the resolution, while Republicans voted against it.
Doug Lamborn (R):
This surge is the best way in the opinion of the commanders to protect our troops and ultimately lead to victory. I don't see how you can claim to protect and support the troops while taking away the best option for victory.
John Salazar (D):
This administration has squandered their credibility by losing billions in reconstruction funds, failing to adequately equip our troops and failing to develop a clear plan for reconstruction in Iraq.
Diana DeGette (D):
Iraq is in a civil war. That is the truth, and it's time we accept the implications of that fact.Our soldiers have no business acting as unwanted umpires or surrogate police officers.
Marilyn Musgrave (R):
I talked to a retired general yesterday and I believe he said it all. He said, 'You're down there debating, aren't you? You're talking about the "united we quit" resolution.'
Ed Perlmutter (D):
It is time to turn over security to the Iraqi people, press forward with diplomatic efforts, create a multinational reconstruction effort and redeploy our troops from Iraq by the spring of 2008.
Tom Tancredo (R):
If I were president of the United States, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you unequivocally that I would not be sending an additional 20,000 soldiers to Iraq.
Mark Udall (D):
If we do nothing more than debate the president's escalation plan, we will not keep faith with the American people, who rightly expect this new Congress to begin to bring our costly involvement in the Iraq war to a close.