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Republican Congressman Breaks Ranks, Joins Demand for Documents on Downing Street Memos
Congressman Jim Leach (R, Iowa) has informed Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D, California) that he will co-sponsor her Resolution of Inquiry into Bush Administration communications with the U.K. about Iraq at the time of the Downing Street Memos. Leach is the first Republican member of Congress to publicly support a demand for an inquiry into the Bush Administration's pre-war claims. The 131 congress members who have signed Congressman John Conyers' letter to the President about the Downing Street Memo are all Democrats. The 11 Senators who have asked the Senate Intelligence Committee to do the investigation it committed to in February 2004 but never did are all Democrats.
The Resolution, H. Res. 375, is a privileged resolution which must be brought to a vote in the House International Relations Committee by September 16th, or Lee is permitted to demand a vote of the full House. Fifty-two Democrats, including Lee, have co-sponsored the Resolution. Leach is the first Republican to join them, and he is a member of the International Relations Committee..
The International Relations Committee has 27 Republican members and 23 Democratic members. Thus far 10 of the Democrats have co-sponsored the Resolution. If the other 13 vote for it as well, then along with Leach, one more Republican vote will be needed for a tie, or two more for passage.
Leach has questioned Bush's war policies for years and was one of five Republicans in May to vote for Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey's amendment requiring an exit strategy. Another of those five, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, also serves on the International Relations Committee.
"Congressman Leach has broken the silence of the Republican Party on the Downing Street Minutes," said John Bonifaz, Co-Founder of the After Downing Street Coalition. "His willingness to co-sponsor Congresswoman Barbara Lee's Resolution of Inquiry is bound to make the White House nervous. It is not possible for the President to paint this demand for documents as coming solely from his opponents. This is a demand for the truth. Did the president deliberately deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq? We as a people -- from Crawford to Des Moines to Washington, DC, regardless of our political persuasion, deserve to know the answer to that basic question."
"Congress returns to Washington from its summer break on September 6," said David Swanson, Co-Founder of the After Downing Street Coalition. "The first 10 days will test the Democrats' ability to stand together and challenge the Bush Administration, as well as Republicans' willingness to break ranks on an issue where public opinion has diverged widely from White House policy."
The text of the Resolution, H. Res. 375, and a list of current co-sponsors are here: