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Congress supports troops, if not war

©Associated Press

March 18, 2003

WASHINGTON -- An edgy Congress, confronting the growing prospect of war with Iraq, rallied behind U.S. troops on Monday despite some lawmakers' concerns that President Bush had not built a broader international coalition of allies for the conflict.

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said Bush failed "miserably" at diplomacy, forcing the United States to go to war.

"I'm saddened, saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war," said Daschle, D-S.D.

"Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country."

At the White House, Bush briefed about a dozen top members of the House and Senate before his speech.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he hoped that after hearing Bush's speech, "the Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- will close ranks behind the president and our foreign policy will leave the shore with one voice."

Many Democrats Monday lamented Bush's failure to win a new Security Council resolution on Iraq, but said now is the time to unite as war appears inevitable.

"Those of us who have questioned the administration's approach, including this senator, will now be rallying behind the men and women of our armed forces to give them the full support that they deserve as it now seems certain we will soon be at war," said Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

Republicans stood behind Bush. "The president has shown great patience and given diplomacy every chance to work, but as he stated tonight -- the time to act has arrived," said Senate majority leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

-- Information from the Los Angeles Times was used in this report.

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