Another senior Republican breaks with Bush on Iraq
By Susan Cornwell 44 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's Iraq
war policy continued to hemorrhage support in the U.S.
Senate as another senior Republican called on Thursday
for a new strategy that would start to bring troops
A day after Bush appealed to Americans to be more
patient with the unpopular war, six-term New Mexico
Sen. Pete Domenici, who is up for re-election next
year, urged a new course.
"I am unwilling to continue our current strategy,"
Domenici, who serves on the Senate's defense
appropriations subcommittee, said in a statement.
"I do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or
a reduction in funding for our troops. But I do
support a new strategy that will move our troops out
of combat operations and on the path to coming home,"
Domenici joined the ranks of influential Republican
lawmakers who recently have broken with Bush over the
4-year-old conflict in Iraq, declaring themselves
unable to keep backing a war that has no end in sight
after the deaths of 3,590 U.S. troops.
"I have carefully studied the Iraq situation and
believe we cannot continue asking our troops to
sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is
not making measurable progress to move its country
forward," Domenici said.
Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared last
week that Bush's strategy was not working and troops
should start leaving. Ohio Sen. George Voinovich,
another Republican, urged "gradual military
Bush has shown no public sign of changing course. On
Wednesday, he asked the country for "more patience,
more courage and more sacrifice" in Iraq during an
Independence Day address at a National Guard air base.
The White House has played down the Republican
defections while anti-war forces have new hope for a
coalition in the Senate that would force a change in
U.S. war strategy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat
who voted to authorize the war in 2002 but then soured
on the conflict, said on Thursday that senators like
Domenici, Lugar and Voinovich now had to back their
criticism with votes for withdrawal.
Reid said they would have a chance beginning with a
defense policy bill that will be brought to the Senate
floor next week.
Domenici said he backed a bipartisan Senate proposal
that may be debated as part of the defense policy bill
and would create the conditions for a possible
drawdown of U.S. troops by March.
The plan by Sens. Ken Salazar, a Colorado Democrat,
and Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, embraces
recommendations made last December by the Iraq Study
Republican leaders have urged lawmakers to wait until
September, when the top U.S. commander in Iraq makes
his progress report, before pushing for change in Iraq
policy. But Domenici said he could see now that things
were not improving.