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Opposition US Lawmakers Warn of Repercussions of Iraq War

Members of Congress continue to react to President Bush's State of the Union address. Democrats are linking the president's comments on Iraq with the economic problems Americans face, saying a conflict would have widespread repercussions.

President Bush's warnings to Iraq, in his State of the Union address and Wednesday in Michigan, brought opponents of war in the House of Representatives back to the microphones.

Last year, 133 House lawmakers, all but seven of them Democrats, voted against the resolution giving the president authorization to take military action against Iraq. Congress approved the resolution overwhelmingly.

However, many urged the president to return to Congress for a new vote on war if the U.N. inspection process failed.

That proposal is now being reintroduced in the Senate by Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, and still has support among House Democrats, such as Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas.

"I want to ask the president, will he return to the United States Congress, persuant to the Constitution, and ask us to re-debate the question of war," she said, "and allow us to have the information he has, on behalf of the American people, and debate this persuant to the Constitution of the United States?

In a separate news conference, Congressman Jay Inslee, of the state of Washington, said the president did not make a clear and convincing case for military action.

"The president failed to demonstrate an imminent threat to America's security interests from Iraq," he said. "The president failed to demonstrate any planning for an attack on the United States, or our allies by Iraq. The president failed to demonstrate a connection between Saddam Hussein or Iraq, and the attacks on our country of September 11 [2001]. The president has failed to demonstrate the type of threat to our nation that warrants us sending our sons and daughters into the streets of Baghdad in that battle."

African-American and Hispanic lawmakers expressed concern that people they represent will end up paying the human and economic costs of war. "Our sons and daughters, disproportionately, would be placed in harm's way during any war in Iraq," said Elijah Cummings of Maryland. "And our people would suffer the most from the consequences of war, here at home."

Ciro Rodriguez of Texas said, "We are patriotic. We support our troops. But we must also work for peace Mr. president. War should be our last resort."

Speaking in Michigan, President Bush said any U.S. action in Iraq would not take place at the expense of domestic priorities, including homeland security, and defended his proposals on education and health care. But he spoke just as strongly about the need to dis-arm Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein.

"He is a danger not only to countries in the region, but as I explained last night, because of al-Qaida connections, because of his history, he's a danger to the American people. And we've got to deal with him. We've got to deal with him before it is too late," he said.

Also on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell briefed House members on Iraq.

After that briefing, House Republican leader Tom DeLay quoted Mr. Powell as saying he would be presenting even more extensive information to the United Nations on February 5.