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Senators Oppose U.S. Troop Buildup In Iraq


http://gdb.rferl.org/5905D6BC-3CF2-41F5-8C97-FFFD94CBA216_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/5905D6BC-3CF2-41F5-8C97-FFFD94CBA216_mw800_mh600.jpg Senator biden at a January 11 hearing on Iraq (epa) January 18, 2007 -- Senators from the Democratic Party and from U.S. President George W. Bush's Republican Party have announced agreement on a draft resolution opposing Bush's plan to increase the U.S. deployment in Iraq by 21,500 troops.

The draft resolution introduced on January 17 opposes Bush's plan to send an extra troops, but does not call for a troop withdrawal.

The resolution says that it is "not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq," and it says the United States, under an "expedited timeline," should transfer responsibility for security to Iraq's government.

"The resolution says what we and many of our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans alike, are in agreement on: That deepening America's military involvement in Iraq by escalating our troop presence is a mistake," said Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is one of the resolution's co-sponsors.

Bipartisan Support

Two Republican senators, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a long-standing critic of the war, have also said they would co-sponsor the resolution.

"I think it is dangerously irresponsible to continue to put American lives in the middle of a clearly defined, tribal-sectarian civil war," Hagel said. "It's wrong."

To be sure, the draft resolution is nonbinding. But if approved, it could add to pressure on Bush from a Congress now controlled by the opposition Democrats.

It also comes as the latest poll shows the majority of Americans do not support Bush's new plan for Iraq. An AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 people showed that some 70 percent of those questioned opposed the idea.

Bush Defends Decision

However, White House spokesman Tony Snow said the draft resolution would not affect Bush's plans, adding that, "The president has obligations as a commander in chief."

Bush defended his choice in an interview on January 16 on the Public Broadcasting Service's "Newshour with Jim Lehrer." "Things have changed, in other words, I am not putting troops into a situation where there haven't been enough changes to assure me that we can make progress," he said.

The measure is likely to come up for debate by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 24, the day after Bush gives his annual State of the Union address. It could then go to the full Senate for debate as early as that week.

(compiled from agency reports)
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