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Senate Sets Stage For Iraq Face-Off

While many Republicans cheered the president, others sat skeptically silent, the two lawmakers said. As one put it, when Republicans in difficult swing districts lose a tough election, lawmakers can stay with the president and his policy. But now, Democrats are targeting Republican veterans, such as Reps. C.W. Bill Young (Fla.) and Ralph Regula (Ohio), largely over their Iraq votes.

"When guys like that have a big target on their back, everyone starts to worry," said one congressman.

Democrats also put on a show of unity, joining without dissent for the first time in the Senate vote.

Before Bush can veto the bill, Democrats must produce a final version -- a potentially tricky exercise, given the wide-ranging views within the party. Antiwar Democrats in the House, who want troops withdrawn as soon as possible, are already balking at the weaker Senate language, which sets a goal rather than a firm pullout deadline of Aug. 31, 2008, as the House version does. Some Senate Democrats said they will resist the House's hard deadline.

But Congress now leaves town for a recess, with the House not returning until April 16.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a House panel that a delay in funding would force the Army to curtail training and equipment repair necessary to prepare units for deployment, which could lead forces now in Iraq and Afghanistan to have their tours lengthened.

If the funds do not arrive in time, the Army will have to cut spending on National Guard, reserve and active units at home to give priority to soldiers fighting overseas, according to Pace and senior Army officials.

Staff writers Jonathan Weisman and Ann Scott Tyson contributed to this report.


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