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US Senate Iraq Resolution Under Debate

U.S. Senators remain deeply divided over a proposed resolution expressing opposition to President Bush's plan to send additional American troops to Iraq. VOA's Michael Bowman reports, the non-binding resolution was approved last week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but has not been voted on by the full chamber.

Ever since President Bush announced a plan to send an additional 20,000 troops to Iraq, administration officials have been pleading with Congress to give the plan a chance.

That view was echoed by the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar of Indiana, who said that America needs to show unity at a critical juncture in the war in Iraq.

"I do not believe that it is helpful right now to show there is disarray," said Lugar. "I do not fault the resolutions as being chaotic, but I would say that they are an attempt to vent current emotions. They are not helpful to General Petraeus, to the troops, to the Iraqis."

Mr. Lugar was speaking on ABC's This Week program.

Friday, the Senate voted unanimously to confirm General David Petraeus as the next coalition commander in Iraq. The general says he believes the troop surge can succeed in quelling rampant violence in Baghdad and al-Anbar province, and argued against any resolution opposing the plan.

But General Petraeus' words have fallen on many deaf ears in the Senate, including some members of President Bush's Republican party. It is widely believed that, if put to a vote, a resolution stating opposition to the troop increase would pass the Senate.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Joseph Biden of Delaware, disputed any notion that the resolution would boost the morale of terrorists in Iraq or elsewhere.

"It is not the American people or the U.S. Congress that is emboldening the enemy. It is the failed policy of this president [Bush]: going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely, going to war without enough troops, going to war without enough equipment, and, now, lastly, sending 17.500 people in the middle of a city of six 6.5 million people with bulls-eyes on their back [who would be targets for attack], with no plan," said Biden.

The proposed resolution, 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 augment U.S. troop strength in the country.

Many who oppose the measure nonetheless are expressing impatience with Iraq's government. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky spoke on CBS' Face the Nation program.

"This is the last chance for the Iraqis to step up and do their part. This effort to quiet Baghdad is absolutely essential," added McConnell. "If you do not have a relatively calm capital city, there is no chance that the government can function properly. I think a resolution in the Senate that sets up some benchmarks, some milestones the Iraqi government has to meet is the best way to go."

President Bush has said that, regardless of what transpires in Congress, he will go forward with the troop increase.