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Anti-surge bill in Senate sets up clash with Bush

Associated Press
Published January 18, 2007


WASHINGTON - The Senate set the stage Wednesday for a direct clash with President Bush over the war, with two senior Democrats and a prominent Republican introducing a symbolic measure to declare that the administration's plan to send additional troops to Iraq runs counter to the national interest.

The resolution, proposed by Sens. Joseph R. Biden of Delaware and Carl Levin of Michigan, both Democrats, and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Republican, would not be binding, and the White House said it would have no effect on Bush's plan to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

But sponsors of the measure said passage would send a powerful message Bush could not ignore, and its adoption could be a precursor to further efforts by opponents of the war to place limits on his use of the military in Iraq or to limit funding for the war.

The measure says that the United States cannot sustain an open-ended commitment to Iraq, that the chief responsibility for quelling unrest there rests with Iraqi security forces and that the United States should seek a political solution.

"This resolution will demonstrate - and it will demonstrate it right away - that support is not there for the president's policy in Iraq," said Biden, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman.

Biden's committee expects to take up the resolution Wednesday, pushing any votes on the measure past Bush's State of the Union on Tuesday night.

Republican leaders promised to offer an alternative that would call for time to allow Bush's new policy to work - an attempt to provide Republicans unhappy with the war an avenue to express their views without backing the more critical proposal.

Tony Snow, Bush's press secretary, reiterated the administration's contention that a vote in opposition to Bush's policy would send a mixed message about American intentions.

"What signal does it send to the Iraqis in terms of steadfastness?" he said. "What does it say - does it make the troops feel better about their support from the United States?"



[Last modified January 18, 2007, 00:35:47]

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