Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Iraq must make progress to keep US troops: senators

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of senators pushed a resolution on Tuesday calling on President George W. Bush to tell Iraqi leaders they must meet their own deadlines to form a government as a condition for keeping U.S. forces there.

The Senate was expected to vote on the measure in coming days as it considered a $106.5 billion emergency spending bill for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and relief for the hurricane-battered U.S. Gulf Coast.

Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said the amendment "would put the Senate on record as urging the president, for the first time, to specifically link the continued presence of American forces to the Iraqis meeting their own self-imposed deadline."

Levin, top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, sponsored the measure with Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican who chairs the Armed Services Committee, opposed the measure, saying it "could be misinterpreted" and slow Iraq's political momentum of the last few days.

Iraqi leaders finally broke a four-month deadlock, agreeing to form a coalition government and choosing Shi'ite leader Jawad al-Maliki as the new prime minister-designate.

Under their own deadline, Iraqi leaders now have 30 days to form a government and four months to amend their constitution to make it a more unifying document.

Republicans, led by the White House, have resisted imposing any kind of timetable to start the withdrawal of the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, saying that would only fuel violence.

I think we shouldn't impose any deadlines or date on the military or on the executive branch for conducting operations in that part of the world that we feel are important to our national security interests," said Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican steering the emergency spending bill.

Collins disagreed that the amendment set a timetable for withdrawal, saying instead it called on Iraqis to meet their own deadlines.

Collins' spokeswoman said it was too early to gauge Republican support for the amendment to be considered later this week or next, but the Maine senator was "hopeful" it would pass.

With Bush's approval rating in polls slumped at the lowest of his presidency largely because of the Iraq war, Republicans are becoming increasingly anxious about their prospects in congressional elections in November.

Along with the resolution, the senators have an amendment calling on Bush to notify the Senate when the Iraqis have been told U.S. troops' presence was linked to their meeting deadlines to form a government, and requiring periodic reports.


Oh gee, Did something wake up the US Senate. Poor thing, Oh there now don't worry your little head, just go back to sleep, mommy will tuck you back in.


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