Senate Leaders Continue Squabbling Over Iraq

Little Progress Made on Nonbinding Resolutions Against White House Plan to Add 21,500 Troops

Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 7, 2007; Page A11

Senate leaders squabbled yesterday over how to consider resolutions opposing President Bush's plan for more troops in Iraq, but the quarrel did not stop lawmakers from launching an informal debate on the chamber floor over the war.

"The only people who believe there is a workable military solution for the conflict in Iraq is the Bush administration," said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who advocates requiring Bush to complete the removal of American troops from Iraq within a year.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Democrats disingenuous for declaring support for U.S. troops while denouncing their commander in chief's strategy. Troops serving in Iraq "won't buy it," McCain said. "A vote of no confidence is a vote of no confidence."

Senate leaders made little progress yesterday toward agreeing on the terms of votes on a series of nonbinding resolutions, each of which addresses Bush's decision to deploy an additional 21,500 troops.

"This is all a game to divert attention from the fact that we have before us now an issue that the American people want us to address," Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor, nodding across the aisle to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

"What we're asking by any standard is reasonable," answered McConnell. "It is not too late to have the debate this week."

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) disagreed, declaring last night that the Iraq debate was over and that Democrats would move on today to other legislation.

Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders scheduled a war debate to begin next Tuesday, culminating with a vote aimed at repudiating Bush's plan.

House Democrats had intended to work with the resolution offered by Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), which Senate Democrats have rallied behind. Instead, after assessing the morass on the other side of the Capitol, they are now considering a more narrow statement of objection to Bush's proposal.

In the three days of debate, Each House member will be given five minutes to state his or her views, Democrats said. That is a considerable amount in the House, where speeches typically run one minute.

"We're going to do what's been missing -- a serious debate on the war," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), a member of the House leadership.

Durbin, saying that the "plug had been pulled" on the nonbinding resolution, urged his Senate colleagues to look ahead to other Iraq-related showdowns as future vehicles for opposing Bush's war proposals.

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