President Bush, House Reach Deal on Iraq Resolution
House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) announced the agreement after a White House breakfast with Congressional leaders. He said the House International Relations Committee would debate the resolution this week.
In a compromise with Democrats, Mr. Bush agreed to certify to Congress that the U.S. had exhausted all diplomatic means before any military strike or within 48 hours of an attack. The president must pledge that diplomatic means alone “will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” and “is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions,” according to a copy of the resolution released to the press.
The text also clarifies that the authorization for action applies specifically to Iraq, omitting language from the White House version that allowed for military force to restore peace and security in the region.
Gephardt said he was bringing the text to his party members, and was confident that the resolution would pass the House, perhaps as early as next week.
“I’ve said for a long time that Iraq is a problem. It presents a problem after Sept. 11 that it did not before, and we should deal with it diplomatically if we can, militarily if we must, and I think this resolution does that,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who sparred with the White House last week over what he called Mr. Bush’s politicizing of the war on terrorism, also attended the breakfast, but said he did not negotiate resolution language. At the appearance announcing the House agreement, Daschle predicted that there would “continue to be the source of a good deal of discussion over the coming hours.”
In the Senate, a plan drafted by Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar and Delaware Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden appeared to be gaining support. That resolution would put tighter limits on the use of force.
Dashcle said he still expected language to emerge that “indicates our support for the United Nations’ effort and our support for the administration’s effort in dealing with Iraq.”
Several hours later, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said he was disappointed with Daschle’s position, but predicted that the president will get the support he needs.
“I believe the Congress in a broad bipartisan vote will give this president the authority to act in appropriate ways,” Lott said.