Four years ago, Congress passed legislation authorizing US President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq. Now Senate Democrats want to take it back.
Key lawmakers, backed by party leaders, are drafting legislation that would effectively revoke the broad authority granted to the president in the days former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was in power, and leave US troops with a limited mission as they prepare to withdraw.
Officials said on Thursday the precise wording of the measure remains unsettled. One version would restrict US troops in Iraq to fighting al-Qaeda, training Iraqi army and police forces, maintaining Iraq's territorial integrity and otherwise proceeding with the withdrawal of combat forces.
Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to present the proposal to fellow Democrats next week, and he is expected to try to add the measure to anti-terrorism legislation scheduled to be debated later this month. Officials who described the strategy spoke only on condition of anonymity, noting that rank-and-file senators had not yet been briefed on the details.
Republicans recently thwarted two Democratic attempts to pass a nonbinding measure through the Senate that was critical of Bush's decision to deploy an additional 21,500 combat troops.
After failing on his second attempt last Saturday, Reid said he would turn his attention to passing binding legislation.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, declined to discuss the deliberations, saying only: "No final decisions have been made on how to proceed."
Any attempt to limit Bush's powers as commander in chief would likely face strong opposition from Republican allies of the administration in the Senate. Additionally, unlike earlier, nonbinding measures, the legislation now under consideration could also face a veto threat.
Still, it marks a quickening of the challenge Democrats are mounting to Bush's war policies following midterm elections in which war-weary voters swept Republicans from power in both the House and Senate.
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