U.S. Senate turns back Iraq pullout plan

Democrats aggressively challenged U.S. President George W. Bush's Iraq policy Thursday, gaining House committee approval for a troop withdrawal deadline of Sept. 1, 2008, but suffering defeat in the Senate on a less sweeping plan to end U.S. participation in the war.

Democrats aggressively challenged U.S. President George W. Bush's Iraq policy Thursday, gainingHouse committee approval for a troop withdrawal deadline of Sept. 1, 2008, but suffering defeat in the Senate on a less sweeping plan to end U.S. participation in the war.

Anti-war Democrats prevailed on a near-party-line vote of 36-28 in the House Appropriations Committee, brushing aside a week-old veto threat from the Bush administration and overcoming unyieldingopposition from Republicans.

"I want this war to end. I don't want to go to any more funerals," said New York Representative Jose Serrano, one of several liberal Democrats who have pledged their support for the legislation despite preferring a faster end to the war.

"Nobody wants our troops out of Iraq more than I do," countered Republican Representative C.W. Bill Young of Florida, who sought unsuccessfully to scuttle the timeline for a troop withdrawal. "But we can't afford to turn over Iraq to al-Qaeda."

After weeks of skirmishing in the Senate, Republicans easily turned back Democratic legislation requiring a troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days. The measure set no fixed deadline for completion of the redeployment, but set a goal of March 31, 2008.

The vote was 50-48 against the measure, 12 short of the 60 needed for passage.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky led the opposition to the measure.

"This is a dangerous piece of legislation. It is constitutionally dubious and it would authorize a scattered band of United States senators to tie the hand" of the commander in chief, he said.

Senate Democrats promptly said they would try again to force a change in Bush's policy beginning next week, when they begin work on legislation toprovide money for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.