Rep. Ike Skelton told The Hill that President Obama's timetable to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011 "is not an exit date."
"It's not an exit date. It's a goal," said Skelton.
The House Armed Services Committee chair also scoffed at GOP charges that Obama has set a date for troop withdrawal in stone, adding, "did you hear what they said, 'situations may come up?'"
PLUS: Skelton challenger Bill Stouffer pounced on the vote to extend the estate tax, which was set to expire at the end of the year. The vote was 225 to 200. While some Democrats crossed over in opposition, Republicans were unanimously against the measure.
The legislation makes the 45 percent tax rate permanent -- for estates over $3.5 million for individuals and $7 million for couples.
"Ike voting with Nancy Pelosi is not a surprise since he has voted with her 95% of the time this year,” said Stouffer in a statement. "What is surprising, however, is that Ike would thumb his nose at so many farmers, small businessmen and families in rural Missouri by refusing to allow the tax to die in 2010 and voting to permanently extend the tax at a punishing rate of 45%," he added.