Senate readies Iraq draft

By RICHARD TOMKINS and SHARON OTTERMAN, United Press International  |  Oct. 1, 2002 at 7:37 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Senate lawmakers said they would have a final draft by Wednesday morning of a resolution that would authorize the president to use military force against Iraq to compel its disarmament.

The draft will be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before moving to the Senate floor Wednesday evening or Thursday. It will attempt to reconcile a number of different versions of the resolution currently circulating through Congress, congressional aides said.

The original resolution submitted by President George W. Bush asked Congress to grant broad authority to use military action against Iraq to enforce a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions and act in the interest of regional stability. A more limited proposal, written by the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had the support Tuesday of Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and may be offered as an alternative, staffers said.

Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Joe Biden, D-Del., drafted the key points of this proposal. Unlike the most recent White House plan, the committee version would require that any use of force in the region would have to be approved by the U.N. Security Council and be limited to removing weapons of mass destruction from Iraq.

"Senator Biden and Senator Lugar want to support the president in gaining the broadest possible mandate for narrower purposes than the White House originally asked for," said Lynne Weil, the committee's press secretary.

Bush said Tuesday that agreement was "within reach," but added that restrictive language currently being floated in the Senate would be unwanted.

"I don't want to get a resolution that ties my hands, a resolution that is weaker than that passed by Congress in 1998," Bush said before a White House meeting with a bipartisan congressional delegation. "Congress in 1998 passed a fairly strong resolution that recognized Saddam Hussein was a threat. He was a threat in 1998, and he is more of a threat four years later.

"My question is, 'what's changed?' Why are we trying to weaken a resolution..."

White House officials said that -- by limiting the objectives of military intervention only to removing weapons of mass destruction, the alternative resolution was too narrow in scope.

"It's too narrowly focused ... It doesn't say anything about urging Saddam Hussein to cease his support for terrorism, stop repression of his people, cease threatening his neighbors. None of that language is in this," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

"The administration has some real concerns about it. The language as it is currently written is a pullback from existing United Nations Security Council resolutions.

"It is much more limited and narrow than what had previously been accepted by many people."

A senior administration official said Tuesday that the Lugar-Biden proposal, if adopted, would ignore previous resolutions that include authorization of the United States to enforce no-fly zones over Iraq to protect its minorities.

Those actions, he said, could then be called into question.

Bush Tuesday afternoon was meeting again with a bipartisan delegation from the House on an Iraq resolution and was expected to meet early Wednesday with Senate leaders.

"We'll work with the members (of Congress)" on gaining a resolution, Bush said. "I'm confident we can get something done. And we'll be speaking with one voice here in the country, and that is going to be important for the United Nations to hear that voice and it will be important for the world to hear that voice ..."

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