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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Democrats Resist Sending More Troops to Baghdad

WASHINGTON -- Emboldened by U.S. President George W. Bush's deeply unpopular proposal to send more troops to Iraq, congressional Democrats are shedding their wariness about tackling the war and embracing positions once primarily held by the party's most liberal fringe.

Less than two weeks after taking power, party leaders who had promised just an increase in oversight hearings on the war are now talking openly about cutting off funds for additional military operations.

Centrist Democrats are lining up beside longtime antiwar liberals, promising to do everything in their power to stop the president's plans to deploy an additional 21,500 troops to Baghdad and the restive Anbar province.

And the war's most passionate opponents in the House, whose last meeting before the midterm election was relegated to a basement room, met last week in one of the grandest rooms on Capitol Hill and drew scores of supporters, television cameras and journalists.

"Ours is now the mainstream position," said Representative Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat who two years ago saw her resolution calling for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq crushed on the House floor. Today, the congressional Out of Iraq Caucus co-founded by Representative Maxine Waters has more than 80 members.

Congressional Democrats, suddenly united in their desire to pass resolutions against the escalation, still face challenges in deciding how far to go in what could become a historic showdown between two branches of government over the course of a war. And any move to cut funding may quickly reveal fissures in the Democratic caucus.

The threat to cut off funds for more troops drew a rebuke Saturday from Bush, who challenged war critics to offer their own plan for Iraq.

The Democrats' rapid embrace of what were once minority positions capped an extraordinary week on Capitol Hill as Congress stirred after years of standing by a wartime president.