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Senator Lieberman Sees Battle In Congress Over Bush Iraq Plan January 9, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News, White House.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose pro-war views have sparked sharp criticism from liberals, sees an acrimonious fight ahead in Congress over President George W. Bush’s expected call for up to 20,000 more U.S. troops in Iraq.

“This will be a battle,” Lieberman, I-Conn., said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s going to be a momentous debate up here. And I believe it will determine in many ways how safe our future is and what our prospects are in the larger war against the Islamist terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.”

Lieberman’s remarks came on the eve of President Bush’s long-awaited address outlining a revised war strategy. During the nationally televised address scheduled for Wednesday night, Bush is expected to call for more U.S. forces to quell sectarian bloodshed in Iraq.

A sharp debate over Bush’s new plan is expected on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned that the Democratic-controlled Congress won’t hand Bush a blank check for the war and might even cut funding for any troop buildup.

Some Democrats, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., one of Bush’s fiercest anti-war critics, are urging Congress to take a strong stand against sending extra troops. Kennedy is pushing a bill to deny Bush the billions of dollars in funding needed for a troop buildup unless Congress first approves.

Kennedy’s bill is expected to spark broader debate on Capitol Hill over steps lawmakers should take to curb Bush’s war strategy.

Congressional Democrats, however, are divided over whether they should try to deny funding for Bush’s expected troop buildup. Republicans say the new forces are needed to quell growing bloodshed in Iraq.

The president enjoys broad war-making powers under the Constitution. Congress has power over spending. Democratic leaders, though, have rejected withholding funding for troops already in combat.

“The Congress has the power of the purse and what we are saying is before the president sends additional American troops into the civil war, the president has to come back to the Congress and get the authority for that deployment,” Kennedy said Tuesday on NBC’s “Today” show.

Lieberman, a Democrat turned independent who was assailed for his pro-war views during his fall re-election race, said he will take a hard line in advocating for sending more troops to Iraq.

“I believe, on the merits, we have never had enough troops there,” Lieberman said. He added that his views were reinforced in talks with military officials and soldiers during a recent trip to Iraq.

Lieberman, however, said he considered it within bounds for lawmakers to go after funding for the war to try to alter Bush’s war policies.

“Senators have a right to do that,” Lieberman said. “Again, I think it would be wrong both on the merits and even in terms of the wisest conduct of the war to cut off a president, as commander in chief when he’s attempting to do something that he and a lot of others believe can help us succeed.”

Lieberman sent a letter Monday urging Bush to send additional troops to help end the violence in Iraq.

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