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US Senate Republicans Say They Will Not Block Iraq Bill

Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate say they will not try to block passage of an Iraq war-spending bill, even if it includes a troop withdrawal deadline.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says his party's goal is to pass the bill quickly, because he knows President Bush will veto it. He predicts Democrats will then be forced to redraft the bill without conditions.

The U.S. Senate is debating a $122 billion bill this week to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would set a non-binding goal of March 31, 2008, for the removal of most U.S. combat troops from Iraq. The measure also calls for a gradual redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq, beginning in four months.

The debate in the Senate comes as the House of Representatives passed a war-funding bill Friday that would require all U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of August 2008.

The Senate is likely to vote on its own version of the bill sometime this week. Then the two versions would need to be reconciled. President Bush has vowed to veto any bill that would restrict his management of the war. Neither the House nor the Senate is expected to have the votes needed to override the president's veto.

The vote in the House passed with broad support by Democrats and only two Republicans voting for it.

The Democrats won a majority in both houses of Congress in elections last November, but their majority is narrower in the Senate.