Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More Republican senators disagree with Bush's Iraq plan

More senators disagree with Bush's Iraq plan
By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Opposition to President George W. Bush's plan to increase troop strength in Iraq broadened on Capitol Hill on Monday as a new bipartisan group of four senators announced their disagreement with the strategy.

The senators, including conservative Virginia Republican John Warner, unveiled a proposal that they hoped would be embraced by lawmakers who disliked some of the wording of another bipartisan resolution that was introduced last week, opposing the boost in troops.

The new proposal declares the Senate "disagrees with the plan to augment our forces by 21,500 and urges the president instead to consider all options and alternatives."

But it dropped words used in the first proposal that some senators found objectionable, such as "escalation" to describe the jump in troops, said Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, a co-sponsor of the new resolution. Both proposals are non-binding.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was expected to vote on Wednesday on the first of the two resolutions, drafted by Chairman Joseph Biden and three other senators. The Wednesday vote will come a day after Bush makes his annual State of the Union address to Congress, defending his policy on Iraq and other subjects.

A spokeswoman for Biden, a Delaware Democrat, said he was open to working with anyone on the language of resolutions disagreeing with Bush's troop increase.

"What's striking is that the bottom line of both resolutions is the same: bipartisan opposition to the president's plan to send more American troops to Iraq to fight a civil war," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander.

Warner, the former chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said U.S. troops should be kept out of Iraq's sectarian violence.

"The purpose of this resolution is ... to express the genuine -- and I repeat, the genuine -- concerns of a number of senators from both parties about the president's plan," Warner said at a news conference with co-sponsors Collins; Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson; and Minnesota Republican Norm Coleman.

Warner's proposal did not please senators who support Bush's policy.

"Unfortunately this new Iraq resolution, no matter how well-intentioned, has the same effect as the Biden resolution," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican. The new proposal declared Bush's strategy "a failure before it has a chance to be implemented," Graham said in a statement.

In the House of Representatives, Republicans asked the majority Democrats on Monday to join them in setting up a bipartisan committee to oversee Bush's plans for Iraq. Bush should be required to report to the committee every month, said House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio.