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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Congress Seeks to Limit Bush's Mandate on Iraq

WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers are close to giving U.S. President George W. Bush the congressional authorization he wants to attack Saddam Hussein, saying they will limit the mandate to Iraq to satisfy Democrats who are uneasy about Bush's request to restore security to the whole region.

On Sunday's television talk shows, Democrats also said Bush needs to more aggressively explain his plans in order to win domestic and international support for any action.

The administration has proposed a resolution that would authorize the president "to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to ... defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region."

"It's much too broad; there's no limit at all on presidential powers," said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "There need to be some changes. ... It's not even limited to Iraq," Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said on "Fox News Sunday."

Bush wants the United Nations Security Council to enforce bans on weapons of mass destruction against Iraq. The United States believes Iraq is stockpiling deadly chemical and biological weapons, and is rebuilding its nuclear weapons program.

Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said keeping "region" in the resolution would set too broad a precedent.

The administration is amenable to change, and "I predict that won't be the language," Biden, a Delaware Democrat, told CNN's "Late Edition.

Some Republicans sympathized with the need to contain the language. "These are very, very important definitions, because it will guide the president and this nation probably into war," Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said on ABC's "This Week."

Even those comfortable with the proposed language said they would accommodate change to speed it through. The White House wants the legislation to pass before Congress recesses before elections on Nov. 5.

"We can correct that, I don't think that's fatal to the heart of the resolution," said Illinois Representative Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

Hagel and Senator John Kyl predicted the resolution would easily be passed before the November elections, but Biden said Bush needed to work harder to explain his plans.

Biden and Levin also urged Bush to work closely with the UN Security Council, saying it would bolster domestic backing for any war.

"There is a degree of confidence that increases in direct proportion to the notion that we are not going to be going alone with this," Biden said.

Levin said Saddam was more likely to fold before joint action than if he were threatened by the United States alone. "I want him to look down the barrel of a gun with the world behind it."