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Democrats face critical vote on Iraq war

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070524/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq Democrats face critical vote on Iraq war By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 28 minutes
    Message 1 of 1 , May 24 6:22 AM
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070524/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq

      Democrats face critical vote on Iraq war

      By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 28
      minutes ago

      WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential contenders on
      Capitol Hill will cast critical votes on the
      Iraq war this week, when lawmakers decide on a $120
      billion bill to keep military operations afloat
      through September. The House planned to vote Thursday
      with the Senate to follow suit by week's end.

      The legislation does not set the deadline for U.S.
      troop withdrawals many Democrats wanted. Unable to
      achieve the two-thirds majority needed to override one
      presidential veto because of such a deadline — or the
      threat of another — Democratic leaders announced
      Tuesday they would proceed to provide money for the
      war anyway because they wanted to support the troops.

      "I believe as long as we have troops in the front
      line, we're going to have to protect them," said Sen.
      Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), D-Del. "We're
      going to have to fund them."

      Biden was alone among the potential Democratic
      candidates in immediately pledging his support for the
      bill.

      Two front-runners, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New
      York and Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) of
      Illinois, declined to say how they intended to vote on
      the measure.

      Both have voted against binding timetables for troop
      withdrawals in the past, before public sentiment
      against the war hardened or they became presidential
      contenders. Last week, the two voted to advance
      legislation that would have cut off money for U.S.
      combat operations by March 31, 2008, cutoff.

      Challengers Sen. Christopher Dodd (news, bio, voting
      record) of Connecticut and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of
      Ohio said they would oppose the measure because in
      their view it issued a blank check to President Bush
      on the Iraq war.

      "Half-measures and equivocations are not going to
      change our course in Iraq," Dodd said in a statement.
      "If we are serious about ending the war, Congress must
      stand up to this president's failed policy now — with
      clarity and conviction."

      The hefty spending bill has become a lightning rod for
      political attacks on Bush and his handling of the
      deeply unpopular war, which has killed more than 3,400
      U.S. troops and cost more than $300 billion. But it
      also has exposed a sharp divide among Democrats on how
      far Congress should go to end the war.

      Democratic candidates are vying for the anti-war vote,
      but at the same time do not want to appear as though
      they are turning their backs on the military.

      The bill includes about $100 billion for military and
      diplomatic efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as
      $8 billion in domestic projects such as farm aid and
      hurricane relief and $9 billion in military-related
      spending such as improved health care for service
      members.

      While the measure does not include a timetable on the
      war, it does threaten to withhold U.S. aid dollars for
      Iraq if Baghdad fails to make progress on political
      and security reforms. The president, however, could
      waive that restriction.

      Biden said that while he would vote for the measure,
      he disagreed with the approach because it could hamper
      the Iraqi government's ability to take on more
      responsibility.

      The legislation resulted after weeks of negotiations
      with the White House, which agreed to accept $17
      billion in funding not requested by Bush as long as
      there were not restrictions on the military campaign.

      Democratic leaders planned multiple votes in the House
      on Thursday to ensure the measure would ultimately
      pass because of disagreements among members on
      elements of the bill. One vote was to be on war
      funding, while another would be to approve the extra
      money for domestic and military-related projects.

      While liberal Democrats were expected to vote against
      the war funds measure, GOP members were expected to
      make up for the losses. On the added spending,
      Democrats likely were to be unified in their support
      for the measure, overcoming GOP objections.
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