US senate backs Iraq deadline

The US senate has voted to keep a measure tying the funding for the war in Iraq to a deadline for withdrawing US troops.

US senate backs Iraq deadline

The USsenate has voted to keep a measure tying the funding for the war in Iraq to adeadline for withdrawing US troops.

Senators rejected by 48 votes to 50 a Republicanamendment that would have stripped language imposing a March 2008 deadline froman emergency funding bill for the wars in Iraqand Afghanistan.

The vote on Tuesday puts Democrats closer intheir attempt to set a deadline for a USpull-out and on course for a serious political clash with theadministration of George Bush, the US president.

'Step forward'

Harry Reid, the most senior senate Democrat, said:"Today was a significant step forward in our efforts to change course in Iraq and makes America more secure."

He said the result was a pointed message to Bushthat the time had come for a radical policy shift in Iraq, beginning with theredeployment of US troops.

He said: "With this vote, the senate is giving ourtroops the resources they need in combat - including a strategy in Iraq worthy oftheir sacrifices.

"The president must change course and this legislationgives him a chance to do that."

The proposed Republican amendment came on the second day ofa senate debate over sending an additional $122bn for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bush veto

A vote on the entire supplemental spending bill is expectedlater in the week.

Bush has promised to veto any legislation with dates forwithdrawing from Iraq,including a measure passed by the US House of Representatives last week.

The White House said in a statement that Bush was"disappointed that the senate continues down a path with a bill that hewill veto and has no chance of becoming law".

It also said: "In the two weeks since the senatedefeated a similar proposal, General [David] Petraeus reports encouraging signsare already emerging.

"The senate, which unanimously confirmed the generalfor this mission, needs to support him by providing our troops the funding theyneed - not by mandating failure."

Popular disgust

During Tuesday's debate Democrats said popular disgust withthe course of events in Iraq waswhat prompted many US voters to choose them over Bush's Republican party in theNovember 2006 election.

They said that with deadly attacks virtually a dailyfact of life in Iraq, itis time to accelerate moves to withdraw US forces.

Carl Levin, the leading Democrat on the senate ArmedServices Committee, said:

"Nothing else has been successful in convincing theIraqis that they have to take responsibility for their own country, and thatthey must make the political compromises that are necessary to end thesectarian violence and defeat the insurgency in Iraq.

"Only when the Iraqis realise that the mission of USforces in Iraq is changingand that we are going to reduce the number of US forces in Iraq, will theyrealise that we cannot save them from themselves.

"[Iraqis] need to act to meet the commitments they madeto us and to themselves."

Disruptions

The language of the billtying troop withdrawal to increased funding is nearly identical to the wordingof a bill that failed in the senate two weeks ago.

That prompted senate Republicans to accuse the Democrats ofneedlessly holding up funding to the troops to make a political point.

"We need to be speeding this funding to our troopsrather than slowing it down by returning to a debate already settled by thesenate," Republican senator Thad Cochran said as he introduced hisamendment on Monday.

Last week the US House of Representatives narrowly passedits own $124bn version of the spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,including a firm deadline for getting US troops out of Iraq by August31, 2008.

On Saturday, Bush said in his weekly radio address that ifcongress did not approve a cash infusion for Iraqand Afghanistanby April 15, the forces in both countries "will face significantdisruptions".

Source:Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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