Analysis: Bush Loses Support in Congress

The Associated Press
Thursday, June 28, 2007; 5:19 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's stinging recent setbacks raise fresh questions over whether he can accomplish much of anything in Congress in the remaining 1 1/2 years of his term.

The blows range from rejection of immigration overhaul to increasing erosion of Republican unity behind his Iraq policy.

The Republican solidarity that generally marked his first term and the early days of his second is fragmented. His low approval ratings, the unpopularity of the Iraq war and growing attention to the 2008 elections have proved a toxic mix for Bush.

He was unable to overcome fierce opposition from his own party as the Senate on Thursday effectively killed his plan to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants.

The week also saw further Republican rebellion on Iraq.

Breaking with the president, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., a widely respected former Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said Bush's military buildup was not working and the U.S. military presence in Iraq should be trimmed.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, agreed. And Sen. John Warner, R-Va., a senior voice on military matters, suggested more GOP defections were likely after Congress' Fourth of July break.

At the same time, Bush found himself headed for constitutional showdowns with a combative Democratic-controlled Congress.

He asserted executive privilege on Thursday in rejecting lawmakers' demands for documents and witnesses that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors. Separately, the Senate Judiciary Committee a day earlier subpoenaed White House and vice presidential records on the president's warrantless surveillance program.

Meanwhile, the administration's policies for handling and trying terrorism suspects have been challenged by recent court rulings.

And on Sunday, Bush will lose the "fast track" authority for negotiating trade agreements that all recent presidents have had. Congress is showing little inclination to renew the power for him.

"It really shows the weakness of this president, institutionally and politically, in his last two years in office," said Stephen J. Wayne, a presidential scholar at Georgetown University. "He's not just a lame duck any more. He seems more like a dead duck."

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