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Senate Democrats Vow More Action On Iraq


Leading Democrats in the U.S. Senate say they will continue to look for ways to pressure the Bush administration to change course in Iraq. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House, Bush administration officials are urging lawmakers to think long and hard before taking action.

Debate on Capitol Hill has centered in recent days on a symbolic resolution expressing disapproval with President Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq.

The measure passed the House easily, but supporters in the Senate fell four votes short of the 60 needed to bring the resolution to a vote. It had full support from Senate Democrats, but only seven Republicans broke party ranks to vote "yes."

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says his party is not giving up.

"Seventy percent of the American people do not like what is happening with that war," said Harry Reid. "And as a result of that, there will be a lot of talk about this and there will be votes taken in the next several months as should be."

In a recorded interview aired on CNN's Late Edition, Reid talked about the road ahead. He said all serious ideas for legislative action will be considered, using unusually strong language to describe the president's Iraq policy.

"This war is a serious situation," he said. "It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country. So we should take everything seriously. We find ourselves in a very deep hole, and we need to find a way to dig out of it."

Appearing live on the same program, White House spokesman Tony Snow took issue with the Senate majority leader's characterization.

"Yes, the war is tough," said Tony Snow. "But the solution is not to get out. It is to provide the kinds of resources and reinforcements our forces need to get the job done, and, at the same time, say to the Iraqis: 'You guys got to step up!' [have to do your part]"

Snow urged Congress to think carefully before taking action.

"And what I would say to members of Congress is calm down," he said. "Take a look at what is going on and ask yourself a simple question: If you support the troops, would you deny them the reinforcements they think are necessary to complete the mission?'"

Some Democrats in Congress want to modify the 2002 resolution that authorized the president to go to war.

Among those advocating a change in the war authorization is Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin. He spoke on the Fox News Sunday program.

"We authorized him [President Bush] going to Iraq," said Carl Levin. "And we can modify that authorization, so it is not this unlimited authority of the president to use our troops in combat in the middle of Baghdad."

Levin said he would like to see a much more limited mission, one that sees American troops in a support role, instead of taking the lead in combat.

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