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On the February 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News congressional correspondent Major Garrett reported that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) "dismissed debate on any nonbinding resolutions" opposing President Bush's troop increase in Iraq, then aired Boehner's February 8 statement that a "nonbinding resolution is nothing more than political theater" and that it "demoralizes our troops in the field." But Garrett did not mention that Boehner apparently held a different view of nonbinding resolutions when he was majority leader. As Media Matters noted, in June 2006, House Republican leaders forced the House to debate a nonbinding resolution that established the war in Iraq as "part of the Global War on Terror" and asserted that "it is not in the interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq." During the debate on that resolution, Boehner stated that it was "important" for the country that the House was having the debate because "[t]he American public deserves to hear how their elected leaders will respond to international terrorism and those enemies who seek to destroy our American way of life." He also argued that the United States needed to remain in Iraq:
Will we fight or will we retreat? That is the question that is posed to us. Some of my friends on the other side of the aisle often refer to Iraq as a distraction.
They have called Operation Iraqi Freedom a war of choice that isn't part of the real war on terror. Someone should tell that to al Qaeda. Let's be clear here. Those who say this is a war of choice are nothing more than wrong. This is a war of necessity that we must fight.
At Boehner's February 8 press conference discussing the nonbinding resolutions against Bush's Iraq plan, a reporter asked the congressman about the June 2006 resolution. Boehner said that the 2006 resolution had been "moved through the committee process, was brought to the floor under a wide debate" -- in fact a closed rule permitting no amendments -- "to allow members the opportunity to make it clear how they believed the conduct of the war was going." Asked if "it's not part of what just happens here in Washington," Boehner stated:
BOEHNER: No. This isn't about having a debate about Iraq and the need for us to win in Iraq, and it's part of the global war on terror.
This is over a specific tactic, a strategy if you will, used by the White House. And if they feel that strongly about this new strategy, then they ought to have the courage to do what the majority should do, and that is to put forward their alternative.
On February 9, the Los Angeles Times noted that, in December 1995, Boehner -- and 220 other Republicans -- "backed a nonbinding resolution opposing President Clinton's plans to send 20,000 U.S. forces to Bosnia to enforce the peace there."
From the February 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
GARRETT: Pennsylvania Democrat and Iraq war critic John Murtha intends to prevent the president from deploying up to two combat battalions, due to arrive in Baghdad in early spring, if they lack sufficient training and equipment.
House Republicans said they welcome debate on Murtha's binding efforts to block the troop surge, but dismissed debate on any nonbinding resolutions.
BOEHNER: A nonbinding resolution is nothing more than political theater that means nothing and I believe that it demoralizes our troops in the field.
GARRETT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sharply disagreed.
PELOSI: With all due respect to the distinguished minority leader, next week's debate on the floor is one that the American people expect and deserve. This is going to be a solemn debate about the most serious matter that comes before the Congress.
GARRETT: That House debate will last a full three days, plenty of time, Democrats hope, to force fence-sitting Republicans to actually oppose the troop surge. House GOP leaders can't say how many of their rank and file will actually break ranks. Current estimates run from a low of 20 to a high of 50 House Republicans who may oppose the president.