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US Senate Democrats Draft Plan to Revise Military's Iraq Mission

Democratic Party leaders in the U.S. Senate are working on legislation that would effectively revoke the 2002 resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

Senate Democratic aides say the proposal, which is not expected to be adopted, would limit the U.S. military's mission to training Iraqi troops and police forces, securing the country's borders and combating terrorist forces. Regular combat forces would be withdrawn by next year.

The proposal, drafted by Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Joseph Biden, who chairs the Foreign Relations panel is set to be presented to other Democratic senators next week.

If accepted, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would likely attach the proposal to an anti-terrorism bill. If passed by the Senate, which is not likely, the revised authorization would also have to be passed by the House and would be subject to a veto by President Bush.

Democrats and the independents aligned with them hold a slim 51 to 49 majority in the Senate, but hold a more comfortable majority in the House of Representatives.

The 2002 resolution gave President Bush authorization to take military action against Iraq, because of its alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. In a speech last week, Biden said the original resolution is now irrelevant because the WMD program did not exist, and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is "no longer there."

The bill is the latest effort by Senate Democrats to challenge President Bush on his Iraq policy. A vote on a non-binding resolution criticizing Mr. Bush's plan to deploy an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq failed in the Senate, but was passed in the House last week.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the House of Representatives are considering a proposal by lawmaker Jack Murtha that would link funding of the U.S. military mission in Iraq to strict conditions on troop readiness and training standards.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.