The Antiwar Liberal | Jan Schakowsky

By Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman
Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rep. Jan Schakowsky hurried through the side door of the Capitol on Thursday and upstairs to the House floor to look for answers.

The Illinois Democrat and her antiwar colleagues had heard that one of their own was crafting a weaker Iraq withdrawal plan. Early in the week, rumors were spreading that Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), one of the first pro-war Democrats to turn against the conflict, was apparently prepared to drop the spring deadline for troop pullouts that House and Senate Democrats had been demanding for months. Specifics of his plan were hard to come by, and even Democratic leaders were in the dark. They had been discussing three Iraq proposals for a vote this week, but none of them included Murtha's idea.

"I would certainly prefer to see an end date," Schakowsky said carefully, hesitant to criticize her friend. Democrats had already secured narrow majorities in both chambers for a spring withdrawal deadline. "Why should we have less than that? Also, I am not interested in giving any cover to mostly Republicans who have talked about getting out of Iraq."

As the week went on, Schakowsky grew more anxious. By Thursday, she had not heard from Murtha, so she went looking for him. "The one thing I do know is that Jack Murtha, more than most . . . definitely wants to get our troops out of there," she said. But this new idea had her puzzled: "I don't know what his thinking was.

"I'm going to get to the bottom of this right now," she vowed as she charged into the Capitol.

After her talk with Murtha, she sounded more upbeat. His proposal, she said, "is a work in progress. It's not the final word."

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