11 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Democrats took the first step toward a wartime repudiation of President Bush on Wednesday, convening a Senate committee to endorse legislation declaring that the deployment of additional troops to Iraq is "not in the national interest."
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., the panel's chairman, said the legislation is "not an attempt to embarrass the president. ... It's an attempt to save the president from making a significant mistake with regard to our policy in Iraq."
Less than one month after Democrats took control of Congress, there was little doubt they had the votes to prevail. They hold 11 seats on the committee, to 10 for Republicans.
The full Senate is scheduled to begin debate on the measure next week, although Biden has said he is willing to negotiate changes in hopes of attracting support from more Republicans.
Even Republicans opposed to the measure expressed unease with the revised policy involving a war that has lasted nearly four years, claimed the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. troops and helped Democrats win control of Congress in last fall's elections.
"I am not confident that President Bush's plan will succeed," said Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, senior Republican on the committee.
But he also said he would vote against the measure. "It is unclear to me how passing a nonbinding resolution that the president has already said he will ignore will contribute to any improvement or modification of our Iraq policy."
"The president is deeply invested in this plan, and the deployments ... have already begun," Lugar added.