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More in GOP Want Iraq Military Limits

The goal, they say, is to end the U.S.-led daily patrols in the streets of Baghdad and restrict troops to fighting al-Qaida terrorists and training Iraq security forces.

"If you do that you've greatly reduced the loss of life, which is what matters most," said Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del.

The idea of forcing such a change gained prominence last December when the Iraq Study Group concluded Bush should do more to hand over the combat mission to Iraqi forces.

The bipartisan commission envisioned an ambitious and new diplomatic push, with U.S. troops remaining in the region primarily to supply and train the Iraqi army and to target terrorist cells.

Since then, some 40 Republicans and 31 Democrats have signed on to legislation by Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., that urges Bush to embrace the commission's recommendations.

A much smaller, though growing number of Republicans supports requiring that Bush submit to Congress a detailed, new military strategy to change the mission of U.S. troops.

In the past week, Castle and English agreed to co-sponsor the legislation by Democratic Reps. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii and John Tanner of Tennessee.

Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., have proposed similar legislation.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a co-sponsor of Salazar's legislation on the Iraq Study Group, wants to go further: binding legislation that would order Bush to restrict the mission of U.S. troops to counterterrorism, training Iraqis and protecting U.S. assets.

The goal, she says, is to "set the stage for a significant but responsible withdrawal of American combat troops over the next year."

For most of these lawmakers, their decision to embrace change is colored by politics.

Collins is seen by Democratic challengers as particularly vulnerable in the 2008 elections because of the overwhelmingly anti-war sentiment among Maine voters.

English faces an anti-war, anti-incumbent sentiment among Pennsylvania voters, who in 2006 ousted four GOP House members and Republican Sen. Rick Santorum.

Wilson's fellow Republican from New Mexico, Sen. Pete Domenici, recently broke with Bush on Iraq and embraced Salazar's proposal.

Castle was among a dozen lawmakers challenged in an ad campaign in May featuring three retired generals saying politicians cannot expect to win re-election if they support Bush's Iraq policy.


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