LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Conference of Mayors narrowly endorsed a resolution Monday calling for the Bush administration to begin planning for the swift withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
A chaotic debate on the motion echoed political divisions across the country.
Fresno, Calif., Mayor Alan Autry resigned from the conference immediately after the vote, saying the group had made a “grave error” by hastily veering into foreign policy. He predicted troops could be harmed.
But supporters like Stamford, Conn., Mayor Dannel Malloy said the war was draining money from classrooms and municipal services across the country and local governments have “gotten to the boiling point.”
“It’s time to begin developing a plan to bring the troops home,” Malloy said in an interview.
“Many people see this as a very important moment in our history.”
The resolution was adopted 51-47 after a debate that stalled repeatedly on questions about amendments and parliamentary procedure. At one point, a motion to table the resolution failed.
Conference President Douglas Palmer, the mayor of Trenton, N.J., said he opposed the measure because he feared it would detract attention from the conference’s agenda, which included dealing with issues from global warming to clean water.
Americans are divided by the war, he said afterward, but “it’s important our organization stay focused.”
The largely symbolic resolution, sponsored by Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline, said the conference supports U.S. troops “completely and 110 percent” but called on the Bush White House to “begin planning immediately for the swift and prudent redeployment of the U.S. Armed Forces.”
It called on the federal government to provide funding for medical, psychological, housing and other services for troops when they come home.
“Continued U.S. military presence in Iraq is resulting in the tragic loss of American lives and wounding of American soldiers,” the resolution said.
The Iraq war “is reducing federal funds … for needed domestic investments in education, health care, public safety, homeland security and more.”