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US Legislators Debate Resolution Opposing Troop Surge in Iraq


Leading Democrats in Congress say they will push ahead with a resolution opposing President Bush's plans to boost U.S. troop strength in Iraq. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where administration officials and some Republican members of Congress say such a vote would send the wrong message to America's military - and to anti-democratic forces in Iraq.

The U.S. Congress, now led by opposition Democrats, could vote on an Iraq resolution as early as this week.

The proposed non-binding measure, which has both Democratic and Republican sponsors, would not prohibit further U.S. troop deployments to Iraq, nor would it affect funding for the war effort. But it would constitute a clear rebuke of President Bush's handling of Iraq, including his plan to increase U.S. troop levels by some 20,000 in coming months.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program.

"Deepening military involvement now is not the answer," said Carl Levin. "It is a political solution that is needed in Iraq. There is no way to end this violence without it."

In fact, according to Levin, sending more U.S. troops takes the pressure off Iraq's government and sectarian leaders to find a way to quell the bloodshed on their own.

The Michigan Democratic senator acknowledged that the proposed Iraq resolution would not force President Bush to change course on Iraq, but said it is an important first step to bringing about a new policy.

"We have to put a majority of the Congress in a position where they can vote against the president's policy, because that is the way in which we will begin to turn this ship around that is leading us in the wrong direction in Iraq," he said.

With Congress in the hands of an opposing political party, President Bush has limited influence when it comes to legislative action. Nevertheless, administration officials are pleading for patience, urging Congress not to prejudge the president's revised plan for Iraq.

That message was echoed by Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana on CNN's Late Edition program.

"The American people want our soldiers to come home, but they want us to win and come home," said Mike Pence. "And our commander-in-chief has no laid out a strategy, a new way forward, putting Iraqis in the lead, and I think it deserves a chance."

Some Republican senators have threatened to filibuster any Iraq resolution to prevent a vote from being taken. Voicing support for a troop surge in Iraq is John McCain of Arizona, who spoke on NBC's Meet The Press program.

"Americans are frustrated, they are angry, and they are fed up," said Senator McCain. "And what we need to do is show them a path to success. And also, I think we need to make them more aware of the consequences of failure, which would be chaos in the region. And sooner or later I think Americans [U.S. military forces] might have to return."

McCain acknowledged that he is unsure whether sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq will be sufficient to restore order in Baghdad and Iraq's troubled Anbar province. But he said that a resolution opposing a troop surge would be, in effect, a vote of no-confidence for America's armed forces, and something that would not go unnoticed by insurgents in Iraq.

Iraqi officials, meanwhile, are insisting they are committed to stopping sectarian strife. Appearing on Late Edition, Iraq's ambassador to the United States, Samir Sumaidaie, said a precipitous U.S. troop withdrawal would embolden terrorists as well as some regional powers who have designs for the country. He did not elaborate.