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US Congressional Democrats Look Ahead to Votes on Iraq Resolutions


Members of the U.S. Congress have been discussing resolutions expected to be debated as early as next week that will put lawmakers on record regarding President Bush's military strategy in Iraq. VOA's Dan Robinson reports on this and other developments on Capitol Hill.

Democratic leaders say they expect the resolutions, which will be non-binding, to attract support from many minority Republicans who, while wanting to support the president, have also expressed misgivings.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday the House will allow the Senate, narrowly controlled by Democrats, to take up the resolution first.

That would occur after President Bush delivers his State of the Union Address on January 23.

Given the controversial nature of the issue and likely length of the debate there, as well as upcoming congressional breaks, the resolution may not make it to the House until the end of January, or possibly early February.

House Republicans are considering their strategy, with key Republican leaders continuing to stand behind the president's 20,000 troop surge.

But since the president's speech last week, some Republicans have criticized the troop surge, although not in terms as strong as key Senate Republicans.

At the White House, spokesman Tony Snow cautioned lawmakers about what he called the message they might be sending U.S. troops by voting, even symbolically, against the president's plan. "Does this send a signal that the U.S. is divided on the key element of success in Iraq? And I will let members of Congress express themselves because I am sure they are going to say no we are committed to success and they can elucidate on that point," he said.

On Wednesday, members of the Out-of-Iraq Caucus, comprising the most outspoken anti-war House Democrats, will introduce their own legislation.

Their measure would force the president to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq within six months, and repeal the 2002 resolution authorizing military action in Iraq.

On Capitol Hill Tuesday, active duty U.S. servicemen appeared with Vietnam war veterans and anti-war groups to urge Congress to cut off funding for military action in Iraq. "We are here to dispel the myth that this war is winnable and that if we leave, Iraq will crumble. That is based on the assumption that what we are doing over there is good, and that the Iraqis can't govern themselves, and those are fundamentally false assumptions," said Liam Madden, a Marine Corps sergeant who served in Iraq's al-Anbar province from 2004 to 2005.

The news conference was arranged to formally present an Appeal for Redress, involving a petition signed so far by more than 1,000 active members of the military. "I am not here wearing a uniform, I am here as a citizen and I want the Congress to understand that as a citizen soldier that I have the right to [appeal] and speak out against an unjust war," said Jabbar Magruder, a sergeant in the California Army National Guard.

"I am demanding that Congress stop funding this war, stop giving money to kill people in Iraq, bring our troops home now, take care of them when they get [here], and do good by our men and women in uniform, by our citizens here in the U.S. and by the world community," said Kelly Dougherty, an eight-year National Guard veteran, who served a year in Iraq and is now executive director of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War.

The campaign also has the support of Vietnam veterans groups, who were represented by David Klein. "The movement in the military is growing, just like the movement in the military grew against the Vietnam War 30 years ago. So we are seeing a repeat of history," Klein said.

The Appeal for Redress, which has a website explaining legal rights available to active servicemen and women, provides a way for them to communicate their views to members of Congress.

So far, supporters say about 60 percent of those who have added their names to the appeal are Iraq war veterans.