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US Senate Rejects Measure to Cut Off Funds for Iraq War


The U.S. Senate has rejected a measure that would end funding for U.S. combat operations in Iraq by April 1 of next year. The White House praised the vote, but some Senate Democrats say support is building for the effort to limit funding for the unpopular war. VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.

In a procedural vote, the Senate voted 67-29 to reject the measure to cut off funds for the Iraq war by April 1, 2008.

The measure was sponsored by Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin.

"Redeploying our troops from Iraq will create a more effective integrated strategy to defeat expanding terrorist networks, whether they be in Afghanistan, Somalia, Algeria, Morocco or even here at home," he said. "It is time to end a war that is draining our resources, straining our military and undermining our national security."

The measure divided the Senate's majority Democrats. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, said he opposes any effort to cut funding to U.S. troops.

At the White House, spokesman Tony Snow praised the Senate for voting down the measure.

"We need to send a message that we are engaged and the goal is success in Iraq," said Snow.

But supporters of the bill said their effort is gaining support. In fact, two senators who are seeking the Democratic nomination for president next year who previously were reluctant to limit funding backed the legislation on Wednesday. They are Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

Anti-war advocates said the vote gives them hope that eventually they will prevail.

"We will have a change in mission in Iraq, away from policing a civil war and to the much more narrow focus of counterterrorism, which is what the American people demand, and we will keep at it and at it and at it until we succeed," said Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.

In other action, the Senate narrowly rejected a proposal by the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Senator John Warner of Virginia, which would have cut some U.S. aid to Iraq if the Iraqi government failed to meet certain political and security benchmarks.

At the urging of the White House, Warner included a provision to allow the president to waive the restriction. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the measure too weak.

The Senate did approve a nonbinding resolution expressing the need to approve funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of the month.

The votes come as lawmakers are seeking a compromise on a bill to fund the wars through September 30 and send it President Bush before a week-long congressional recess at the end of the month.

The House of Representatives passed a measure last week that would fund the wars in two 60-day installments - legislation President Bush says he opposes.

The president has already vetoed one war funding bill on grounds it also included a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Reid wants to avoid another presidential veto and is working with Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on a compromise funding measure that the House can approve and the president will sign.

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