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More Congressional Democrats Plan to Vote Against Iraq Funding

The number of congressional Democrats who plan to vote against President Bush's $87 billion funding request for Iraq and Afghanistan continues to grow.

Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts is the latest Democrat to say he will oppose the package.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Mr. Kennedy delivered a blistering attack on administration policy in Iraq, describing a woeful lack of security in the country, and insufficient Iraqi involvement and international support for the reconstruction effort. "Until the administration genuinely changes course, I cannot in good conscience vote to fund a failed policy that endangers our troops in the field and our strategic objectives in the world, instead of protecting them," he said.

Senator Kennedy joins a growing number of Democrats who have announced they will vote against the package. They include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senators John Edwards of North Carolina and John Kerry of Massachusetts, who are both running for their party's nomination for president next year.

Still, the Republican-led House and Senate are expected to pass the measure by the end of the week.

The most contentious part of the package is the $18 to $20 billion to be used to rebuild Iraq.

The administration has been waging an intense lobbying campaign to dampen support for making that money a loan, rather than a grant.

Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, says he is dropping his support for the loan idea, after Mr. Bush persuaded him at a White House meeting this week that lending the money would send the wrong signal to potential donors, who will meet at an international conference on Iraq next week in Madrid:

"The president is emphatic in his view that we will have a better chance to get more donors, if we make a grant instead of a loan, that we will have a better chance to have other countries to forgive debt," said Senator Specter.

House and Senate leaders hope to send Mr. Bush the legislation for signing before the donors conference opens next Thursday.