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US House of Representatives Debate on Iraq to Extend Through Friday


Debate in the U.S. House of Representatives on President Bush's additional troop deployment for Iraq will extend through a fourth day, to allow all lawmakers in that chamber of Congress a chance to speak. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill.

As the debate stretched through its third day, lawmakers touched upon every aspect of U.S. policy in Iraq, as well as such issues as the Bush administration's approach on Iran, and the global war on terrorism.

E-mails and letters sent to Congress from U.S. troops in Iraq, along with military reservists and veterans also made their way into statements on the House floor.

John Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, read an e-mail from an active duty soldier.

"We have to let our generals be generals and wage this war as only they are trained to do and have hope that the announced troop buildup will be the final key that is needed by the Iraqis to build a secure and united country," he read.

Democrats continue to make the case that sending 21,500 additional troops to Iraq will not stop sectarian violence there, nor ensure Iraqi government commitment in the long-run.

Here is Virginia Democratic Congressman Rick Boucher.

"The troop increase will not bring long-term stability, it will not halt the sectarian strife which has plunged Iraq into a civil war, it will do nothing to speed the day when U.S. forces can hand over the mission to Iraqis and come home," said Rick Boucher.

However, Republicans such as Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia insist that failure in Iraq would have wider repercussions.

"Success in Iraq is vital, and leaving Iraq prematurely would be disastrous for our nation's security and the stability of the Middle East," she said.

In making their arguments, Democrats have frequently referred to strains on the U.S. military from deployments in Iraq.

While disapproving of the president's troop surge plan, the Democratic resolution pledges ongoing support for U.S. troops.

In the Senate, Democratic majority leader Harry Reid angered Republican leaders by announcing he will force a Saturday session of the Senate to force it to vote on the House resolution disapproving of the president's troop buildup.

"We demand an up or down vote on the resolution that the House is debating as we speak," he said.

Republicans continue to say that the chamber hold a debate on a separate resolution opposing any cutoff of funding for U.S. troops.

"We are going to insist on having a vote for funding the troops," said Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell.

Earlier, Republican Arlen Specter vented his frustration with the Senate's inability to move forward.

"The Senate is in real danger of becoming irrelevant," he said. "I don't think we ought to be dominant over the House of Representatives, but I think we ought to at least be equal, and what we have here is that we are close to anarchy. We have been debating the debate all week."

With a week-long congressional recess looming, conclusion of the House debate late Friday or early Saturday would set up consideration by the Senate, and if Senator Reid's plan proceeds, a possible weekend-long debate in that chamber.

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