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US Congressional Democrats Say Bush Rushing Towards War - 2002-09-19

There is anger among Democratic party lawmakers on Capitol Hill over what they call a dangerous rush by the Bush administration toward military action against Iraq. A small but vocal anti-war movement among legislators is adding to the debate on how to deal with Iraq. As the text of President Bush's proposed language for a Congressional resolution on Iraq arrived on Capitol Hill, about 20 Democratic lawmakers used a press conference to vent their frustration.

Ohio democrat Dennis Kucinich is one of a group of House legislators calling for a wider debate and warning of the consequences of what they call "rubber stamping" use of force.

"There is no connection proven between Iraq and 9-11, there is no connection proven between Iraq and al-Qaida or Iraq and the anthrax attacks on this country. No one has shown Iraq has usable weapons of mass destruction, the ability to deliver those weapons and the intention to do so. We all want inspections, and we believe there is still a chance to work this out without going to war," Mr. Kuchinich said.

Mr. Kucinich was joined by Texas democrats Sheila Jackson Lee and Lloyd Doggett.

"Any resolution that does not allow full diplomacy to go forward is wrong-headed and mis-directed," Ms. Lee said.

Mr. Doggett said, "There are many people, including those assembled (in Congress) this morning, who seem to think that Congress is only a speed bump, along the speedway to start this war."

Congresswoman Jackson-Lee called for a special session of Congress to debate Iraq.

In recent days, democratic leaders in the House and Senate have moved closer to supporting the administration's call for an early Congressional vote on action against Iraq.

On the republican side, Senate minority leader Trent Lott, says he expects a vote as early as the first week of October, and makes clear what he thinks the result should be.

"It's time to stop waffling and delaying. The United Nations is going to have to get reaction to their resolutions, they have to get compliance. We [in Congress] are going to have to be prepared to back up our very strong words, in both parties, over a lot of years, with action," Mr. Lott said.

Senate democratic majority leader Tom Daschle, who has also said Congress should vote before adjourning in October, said, "We don't want to be a rubber stamp, but we do want to be helpful, and we want to be supportive. So, we'll look at what the administration is proposing and make our own determination as to whether it is something we can support as well."

With congressional elections in November, everyone in Congress is publicly warning against using Iraq for political purposes. But most acknowledge it will be nearly impossible to avoid doing so.