U.S. Senate sealed in partisan showdown

Nov. 2, 2005 at 7:29 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Partisan politics created high drama when U.S. Democrats unexpectedly called for a closed-door Senate session to jump-start an inquiry into the war in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and other senior Republicans said Democratic leader, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., had blindsided them by invoking a seldom-used rule and that the maneuver had seriously damaged relations in the Senate, where partisan tension was already high.

Democrats demanded that Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., move forward on a promised investigation into how Bush administration officials handled pre-war intelligence about Iraq's suspected weapons programs.

Reid said he had no alternative because Senate Republicans had repeatedly ignored Democratic calls to finish up the inquiry, The New York Times said.

The Senate reopened after about two hours, and Frist said the body had agreed to a six-senator bipartisan task force that will report by Nov. 14 on "the intelligence committee's progress of the phase two review of the prewar intelligence and its schedule for completion."

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