Senators Agree on Iraq War ResolutionWed Jan 17, 2007 18:43
Senators Agree on Iraq War Resolution
By Anne Flaherty
The Associated Press
Wednesday 17 January 2007
A group of senators including a Republican war critic announced agreement Wednesday on a resolution opposing President Bush's 21,500 troop build up in Iraq, setting their marker for a major clash between the White House and Congress over the unpopular war.
The non-binding resolution, which was also gaining interest from a second key Republican, would symbolically put the Senate on record as saying the U.S. commitment in Iraq "can only be sustained" with popular support among the American public and in Congress.
"I will do everything I can to stop the president's policy as he outlined it Wednesday night," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican and potential 2008 presidential candidate, who joined Democrats at a press conference on the resolution.
"I think it is dangerously irresponsible," Hagel said.
Even as skeptical Republicans were summoned to private meetings with Bush and national security adviser Stephen Hadley at the White House, Bush's aides made clear that the Capitol Hill challenge would be met aggressively by the administration.
Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said resolutions passed by Congress will not affect Bush's decision-making.
"The president has obligations as a commander in chief," he said. "And he will go ahead and execute them."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., a chief author of the Senate resolution, said it says "we do not support increased troops, deeper military involvement" and calls for shifting the mission of U.S. troops from combat to training, counterterrorism and protecting Iraq's territorial integrity.
He said it also calls for "the greater engagement of other countries in the region in the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq."
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, told reporters that she is considering supporting the resolution and said she believed it heads in the right direction.
"I want to make sure it's something I can support," said Snowe, who has adamantly opposed to the increase in troops.
The Senate leadership is expected by Thursday to propose the resolution, with debate planned around the same time that Bush delivers his State of the Union speech next Tuesday.
Hagel's agreement to help Democrats champion the resolution amounts to a setback to the administration and to Bush, who has argued vehemently that some 21,500 additional U.S. troops are needed to help the Iraqi government calm sectarian violence in Baghdad and Anbar province.
Bush announced on Jan. 10 that he planned to increase the 130,000 U.S. forces in Iraq with an additional 21,5000 troops.
The resolutions in Congress seemed likely to be largely symbolic and they would not affect the Pentagon's war budget or challenge the president's authority over U.S. forces. Such votes, however, could be a shot across the bow to Bush.
The resolutions also would help Democrats measure GOP support for more aggressive legislative tactics, such as cutting off funds for the war.
Such a vote puts many Republicans in an uncomfortable position. They will have to decide whether to stay loyal to an unpopular GOP president and risk angering voters disillusioned by the war or buck the party line.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said Wednesday she thinks there should be a cap on U.S. troops in Iraq and said she wants "to condition American aid to the Iraqis on their meeting political benchmarks."
"I am opposed to this escalation," she said on NBC's "Today" program. "The Bush administration has frankly failed to put any leverage on this government," said Clinton, considered a likely 2008 Democratic presidential front-runner, although she has not yet entered the race.
Bush has been trying to sell his revised war plan to the public in a series of television interviews. He told PBS's Jim Lehrer in an interview broadcast Tuesday that keeping his old policies in place would lead to "a slow failure," but withdrawing from Iraq, as some Democrats and other critics suggest, would result in an "expedited failure."
"I am frustrated with the progress," Bush said. "A year ago, I felt pretty good about the situation. I felt like we were achieving our objective, which is a country that can govern, sustain and defend itself. No question, 2006 was a lousy year for Iraq."
Several GOP members of Congress have offered only lukewarm endorsements of Bush's plan.
Republican Rep. Chris Shays - who scraped by in the November elections while his GOP Connecticut colleagues Rob Simmons and Nancy Johnson lost their seats - said his vote would depend on what Democrats come up with. He said he supports the troop push if there are guarantees offered by the Iraqis that they will reach a political settlement.
Lining up behind Bush in the Senate are Republican stalwarts and a few members who have long backed sending more troops to Iraq, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Acknowledging their party is divided on Iraq, Republican leaders are trying to stave off a showdown in Congress by casting Democratic efforts as a political ploy to embarrass the president.
The White House cautioned lawmakers about the consequences of voting against a buildup.
"The one thing the president has said is, whatever you do, make sure you support the troops," press secretary Tony Snow said at the White House. "And the question people who support this resolution will have to ask is, how does this support the troops?"
Suicide Car Bomb Kills 17 in Baghdad
A suicide car bomb struck a market in the Shiite district of Sadr City, and police said 17 people died Wednesday, a day after a blast targeting university students killed 70 in what appeared to be a renewed campaign of Sunni insurgent violence against Shiites.
Secret Court to Govern Wiretapping Plan
The Justice Department, easing a Bush administration policy, said Wednesday it has decided to give an independent body authority to monitor the government's controversial domestic spying program.
Climate Resets Doomsday Clock
Experts assessing the dangers posed to civilization have added climate change to the prospect of nuclear annihilation as the greatest threats to humankind. As a result, the group has moved the minute hand on its famous Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight.
Bush Won't Budge on Greenhouse Emission Limits
President Bush will outline a policy on global warming next week in his State of the Union speech but has not dropped his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. White House spokesman Tony Snow said media reports suggesting that Bush would agree to mandatory emissions caps in an effort to combat global warming are "wrong."
Carl Pope | Big Change, Not Big Oil
"The disastrous effects of the energy policy written for Big Oil by Big Oil came home to roost last year. While American families had to cope with skyrocketing energy costs, oil companies raked in record profits - due in no small measure to the generous giveaways engineered by the president and his friends in Congress," writes Carl Pope.
John Parrington | Stem Cell Research Is Not an Ethical Question
"Stem cell research is among the most exciting but also most controversial areas of science today," says John Parrington. "It was in the news again last week because of proposals by British scientists to make stem cells from embryos created by implanting the genes from a human cell into the egg of a rabbit, cow or goat. This has not stopped the religious right in countries like the US severely restricting their use in publicly funded research."
New Orleans Feels Pain of Mental Health Crisis
Sixteen months after Hurricane Katrina tore this city apart, a hidden sort of damage is emerging. Local officials see it in reports of suicides, strokes and stress-related deaths. They see it in the police calls for fights and domestic violence. They see it in the long waiting lists for psychiatric care that they have no way to provide. These days, life in the Big Easy isn't easy at all.
Layoffs at Philadelphia Paper Prompt Uproar Over Diversity
Recent layoffs at the embattled Philadelphia Inquirer have resulted in a round of finger-pointing over their disproportionate impact on diversity in the newsroom.
Boxer-Rice Exchange Resonates for Women
A "leap backward" for feminism, the White House spokesman calls it. Nothing of the sort, feminists reply. Mean-spirited, say some. Perfectly appropriate, say others. However one interprets Senator Barbara Boxer's remark last week to Condoleezza Rice that the secretary of state, single and childless, doesn't have a "personal price" to pay in Iraq, the brief exchange still has people debating.
Video Interview | Ehren Watada's Parents Speak Out
Truthout's Geoffrey Millard interviews Lieutenant Ehren Watada's parents on the eve of his court-martial. They spoke about their son and his courage as he faces the fight of his life.
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Wednesday 17 January 2007
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