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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Senate Uniting Against Troop Plan

WASHINGTON -- Democratic and Republican opponents of President Bush's troop-buildup plan joined forces Wednesday night behind the nonbinding resolution with the broadest bipartisan backing: a measure from Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, announced the shift, hoping to unite a large majority of the Senate and thwart efforts by the White House and Republican leaders to derail any congressional resolution of disapproval of Bush's decision to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq by 21,500.

Although the original Democratic language was popular within the party, it had little appeal among Republicans. Warner's proposal drew support from both sides, and it was retooled last night to maximize both Democratic and Republican votes.

The revised resolution would express the Senate's opposition to the troop increase but would vow to protect funding for the troops. The resolution does not include the Democratic language saying the Bush plan is against the national interest, but it also drops an earlier provision by Warner suggesting Senate support for some additional troops.

"It's been a hard work in progress," Warner said of the revised resolution, which will require the support of at least 60 senators to prevent a filibuster.

After reviewing the Warner revisions, Reid decided the new text would take the place of the original resolution of the Democratic Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and Armed Services Committee Chairman, Carl M. Levin, as well as Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. He said the Senate would begin debating the resolution next week, provided that Democrats and Republicans could agree on a way to overcome some procedural hurdles.

House Democratic leaders reached the same decision, ordering committees to draft a resolution next week patterned on Warner's language. But Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went further, publicly hinting that she would push binding legislation that would begin bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq.

"I believe that you'll see initiatives on the floor to this effect: that we have this year in which we should be able to drastically reduce the number of troops," she said in an interview broadcast on National Public Radio on Wednesday.

In both the House and the Senate, Democratic leaders decided to get the largest possible vote, even if it means embracing weaker language than the original Democratic resolution.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino responded to the announcement by saying: "The president wants to win in Iraq -- he's proposed a comprehensive plan to do so, and he's asked Congress to give the plan a chance to work. ... These resolutions send mixed signals to our troops and our enemy."

Although Bush would not be obliged to follow Congress's direction in the event that both chambers ultimately pass the Warner resolution, the White House has lobbied hard to prevent such a measure from passing. If the current drive succeeds, it will be the first formal, bipartisan affront to the administration's Iraq policy since the war began.