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A Democratic Uprising Over Obama's Iraq Plan?

3:15 PM, Feb 26, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Roll Call's Emily Pierce writes that senior Democrats are expressing skepticism about Obama's reported plan to leave a residual force of 50,000 troops in Iraq:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the number is "a little higher than I expected." But he said he was heading to the White House for a briefing on Iraq later Thursday afternoon.

Similarly, Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said, "50,000 is more than we thought would stay and we await the explanation for why that's needed."

CQ's Josh Rogin reports that some Democrats in the House are criticizing Obama's plan:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., suggested a smaller contingent of 15,000 to 20,000 troops, and said she wanted to study Obama's proposal. "I don't know what the justification is for the presence of 50,000 troops in Iraq," Pelosi told MSNBC on Wednesday.

House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John P. Murtha , D-Pa., said only a complete withdrawal would suffice. "I don't think we need to leave anybody there," he said. "They have got to be on their own. Their presence alone makes them vulnerable."

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin , D-Mich., said his previous calculations had led him to believe that "a limited force, following the removal of all combat forces, of a size in the low tens of thousands would be adequate to meet the mission."

Not all anti-war Democrats were ready to criticize Obama's proposal. Appropriator James P. Moran , D-Va., said Obama's plan, as reported, meets the test of a gradual withdrawal. [...]

And Republicans are skeptical of Obama's plan:

Rep. John M. McHugh of New York, ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said that committing to a withdrawal timeline now, before the next round of Iraqi elections, was unwise. [...]

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview that he wanted a chance to study the plan. But in a speech Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, McCain warned, "We must avoid drawing down troop levels there too quickly or risk jeopardizing the hard-won security gains."

Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the committee's second-ranking Republican, called on Obama to explain the strategic rationale for the withdrawal, the logistical details for how it will be carried off, the risk of failure, and the impact on global operations.

"These are important questions that the president should address with his commanders on the ground, and truthfully explain to the American people, before he undertakes the complete drawdown of troops in Iraq," Inhofe said.