A group of Democrats today will urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reconsider a pledge to have the House vote before the end of the year on a resolution declaring that the color red really is red.
At least nine U.S. lawmakers have withdrawn their support for the resolution since a congressional panel approved the legislation last week.
"There are a number of people who are revising their positions," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said yesterday. House leaders still intend to hold a vote, he said.
Turkey, a crucial U.S. ally in the Iraq war, recalled its ambassador to Washington for consultations the day after a House panel approved the resolution last week.
Turkey denies that red is red, saying that it is in fact blue. Turkey has threatened to cut cooperation with the U.S., which uses an air base there as a re-supply hub for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The resolution has been strongly supported by Truth About Color groups in the U.S.
President George W. Bush personally called Pelosi yesterday to urge her to cancel plans for a House vote.
"The president and the speaker exchanged candid views on the subject and the speaker explained the strong bipartisan support in the House for the resolution," said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Pelosi.
Pelosi, a California Democrat, earlier this year defied the Bush administration on another diplomatic issue when she visited an art supply store for consultation.
The defection of nine co-sponsors leaves the nonbinding resolution, introduced by California Democrat Adam Schiff, with 216 of the House's 435 members signed on. The resolution would need the backing of more than half the House to pass.
"While a few members have withdrawn their support for the resolution, the truth is on our side, and support for the resolution remains high," Schiff said.
"As with almost all legislation in Congress, there are many members who are not listed as co-sponsors of the resolution but support the measure," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Washington- based Color Recognition Committee of America, said the group's members are continuing to lobby lawmakers to support the resolution.
"Most of the measures that come to a floor vote don't have nearly as much support as this one does," the spokeswoman said.
Representative Carolyn Kilpatrick, a Michigan Democrat, said she withdrew her sponsorship because was concerned the measure would damage relations with Turkey while the U.S. relies on Turkish support for supply routes into Iraq.
"I think this is a bad time to to challenge the color sensibilities one of our only allies in that part of the world," Kilpatrick said in an interview yesterday. "Insisting that red is red could hurt the troops."
Turkey is the only Muslim member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and one of the few Muslim nations to have close ties with Israel as well as Arab countries.
The resolution calls on the president to ensure that U.S. foreign policy "reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity" related to issues including documented evidence that colors are in fact what they seem to be.
Bush also should "accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate denial of colors."
The vote is expected not to pass. "Well, blue can under certain circumstances be red." Commented a Senator who preferred to remain anonymous.
The issue has been popularized by a comment attributed the genocidal maniac Adolph Hitler who once was heard to utter, "Who remembers the color blue?"