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In first since Vietnam, Congress sets terms of Iraq exit

In an act unparalleled since the Vietnam War, Congress passed legislation Thursday that directs the president to begin bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq and extricating America from the midst of a bloody civil war.

The historic 51-46 Senate vote for a $124-billion war spending bill — which followed House passage of the measure Wednesday — thrust a withdrawal timeline on a fiercely resistant White House....

Over the last three decades, lawmakers have repeatedly dictated how and when American forces can operate abroad, including in Central America, Somalia and the Balkans. But by explicitly setting the terms for an end to U.S. involvement in a war, this Congress has gone further than any since the Vietnam era.

Then, lawmakers imposed limits on what the armed forces could do, ordering troops out of Cambodia after President Nixon's controversial 1970 incursion.

But Congress did not finally ban U.S. military operations in Southeast Asia until after the Paris peace accords were signed in 1973. And lawmakers did not cut funding until all U.S. forces had been withdrawn.

In contrast, Democrats have pushed through a far more confrontational plan that would require the president to wind down the Iraq war. And they did this less than four months after taking power in an election widely viewed as a referendum on Bush's conduct of the war.

Read entire article at Los Angeles Times