MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., voted against a Democratic resolution opposing a buildup of troops in Iraq Friday, saying the measure is “nothing more than an opinion about a strategy.” “While opinions are interesting, solutions are necessary,” Rehberg said after the vote. The U.S. House has spent most of the week debating the war, and all 435 members of the chamber were given 5 minutes to speak their thoughts on President Bush’s plan to send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq. Democrats have argued that increasing troops will only add to the expense of the costly war and will not achieve peace. Rehberg chose not to use his five minutes. “How many times can you say the same thing?” he asked. The nonbinding measure opposing additional troops passed the newly Democraticcontrolled House Friday afternoon, 246- 182. In a statement, Rehberg said there have been setbacks in Iraq. “Mistakes have been made on the ground and here in Washington,” he said. “It’s safe to say that all of us the president, the Congress, and the American people wish we could have achieved stability in the region sooner.” The real issue, he said, is that a failed state in Iraq would present a threat to the country’s national security interests and allow terrorists to stay in Iraq. “So I say to those who want to support this non-binding resolution: If you disagree with the strategy, put forward a plan; if you disagree with the tactics, put forward an alternative; if you disagree with the mission, put forward a solution.” He said he is supportive of a Senate resolution sponsored by Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Republican, that backs Bush’s plan to add troops and also outlines specific benchmarks for progress in the war. “A real resolution on Iraq needs to include real benchmarks and real guidelines, not simply a vote of no confidence,” Rehberg said.