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Democrats Vow New Effort on Iraq


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.



And I'm Melissa Block.

Today, Senate Democrats rejected the plans being put forward for a drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq. The top American commander there, General David Petraeus, has proposed withdrawing up to 30,000 servicemen and women by next summer. But even before President Bush speaks to the nation tomorrow about this approach, Democratic leaders are dismissing it as unacceptable.

We'll talk with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama about Iraq in a couple of minutes.

First, here is NPR's Brian Naylor, who's covering today's statements from congressional leaders.

BRIAN NAYLOR: Democrats in Congress will try, once again, next week, to force President Bush to change course in Iraq. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he anticipates the president will announce tomorrow night that he is keeping in Iraq the troops in place before the surge began. Reid calls that unacceptable.


Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Nevada; Senate Majority Leader): It's time to change. It's a president's war. At this stage, it appears clearly it's also the Republican senators' war. And I hope that they will drop that legacy next week.

NAYLOR: Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan says if the president announces he is withdrawing just the 30,000 troops sent to Iraq as part of the surge, that's only an illusion of change.

Senator CARL LEVIN (Democrat, Michigan): And an effort to take the wind out of the sails of those of us who want to truly change course in Iraq.

NAYLOR: Levin wants a new mission in Iraq along with the withdrawal of troops perhaps with a nonbinding deadline. He hopes to win over some moderate Republicans. But other Republicans say the testimony this week of General David Petraeus strengthens their position.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM (Republican, South Carolina): I believe that the votes to withdraw politically in Iraq have diminished, and that the testimony involving people like myself and those on the fence are going to be less likely to play politics with troop withdrawals.

NAYLOR: Democrats may offer as many as six measures, hoping to draw enough Republicans to force a change.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.