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Senators introduce resolution opposing more troops for Iraq

WASHINGTON—Four leading senators—two Democrats and two Republicans—introduced a resolution Wednesday that says President Bush's plan to add 21,500 American troops in Iraq isn't in the United States' national interests.

The resolution, effectively a vote of no confidence in Bush's plan, also calls for more regional and international pressure on Iraqi politicians to make compromises and end rampant killings.

The resolution, sponsored by Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del.; Carl Levin, D-Mich.; Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.; and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is the leading tool that congressional opponents of Bush's war plan are using to persuade him to change course. Democrats consider it their best chance to attract broad backing from members of both parties.

Other Democrats are floating tougher plans.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., announced Wednesday that she'd support the resolution but also planned to propose a cap on U.S. troop deployments in Iraq at Jan. 1 levels and a funding cut for Iraqi forces unless Iraq's government takes steps to end the violence.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., introduced a plan that would require a new congressional authorization for the war. Dodd argued that the 2002 authorization was obsolete because the reasons given for the war then are obsolete, as weapons of mass destruction never were found and dictator Saddam Hussein is now dead.

The no-confidence resolution wouldn't have the force of law, but Biden argued that it was important nonetheless.

"I believe that when a president goes way off course on something as important as Iraq, the single most effective way to get him to change course is to demonstrate that his policy has waning or no support from both parties," Biden said.

Hagel called Iraq "one of the most challenging issues that has ever faced our country," and said a national debate was needed to find agreement on a new strategy.

"No one wants to see this country humiliated, defeated or lose its purpose," said Hagel, a Vietnam veteran and possible Republican presidential contender in 2008 who has been a longtime critic of the war.

The resolution doesn't assign blame for the war and doesn't venture into some of the thorny specifics of how to proceed.

For example, it doesn't address the timing of a U.S. withdrawal. Instead, it says the United States should turn over responsibility for security to the Iraqis "under an appropriately expedited timeline."

It calls for regional and international support for a peace process for Iraq, but doesn't specify which nations should be involved. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has rejected talks with Iran and Syria.

Biden said he would present the resolution to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he chairs, on Thursday for debate. The committee probably will vote on it after the president's State of the Union speech next Tuesday night. The House of Representatives plans to let the Senate go first, then consider a similar resolution.

Rep. Adam Putnam of Florida, a member of the House Republican leadership, criticized the Democrats' tactics.

"House Democrats continue to be divided over the war in Iraq. Now in the majority, they wish to wait on the Senate before coming forward with a resolution opposing the president's plan, which allows them to debate amongst themselves over which course of cut-and-run they support," he said in a statement.

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said he opposed Bush's troop increase and might support the no-confidence resolution if some of the language were changed. Coleman was among a group of Republican senators who met Wednesday at the White House with national security adviser Stephen Hadley.

"A lot of us talked. He took notes," Coleman said. "The bottom line is that I went in there with a lot of concerns. I left with a lot of concerns. ... There was very little mind changing that went on."

Separately, Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters of California announced a bill that calls for withdrawing all American forces in six months, more money for Iraqi forces and a ban on permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.

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(Margaret Talev contributed to this report.)

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(c) 2007, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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