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State GOP delegation backs Bush on Iraq

By Ben Evans
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — After initially raising concerns, Alabama’s Republican-dominated congressional delegation is lining up squarely behind a White House plan to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq.

With votes looming in Congress on bipartisan resolutions opposing the increase, all five Alabama Republicans in the House and both of the state’s GOP senators said they will support President Bush.

“If the troops are there and don’t have the manpower to accomplish their purpose, I don’t see how you can argue against it,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus, a Republican from Vestavia Hills.

The White House was scrambling last week to limit GOP defections as bipartisan support appeared to be growing around nonbinding resolutions signaling Congress’ disapproval of the new troop plan.

Senate Democrats, backed by Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine — and possibly others — unveiled legislation Wednesday that criticized Bush’s decision.

“It is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq, particularly by escalating the United States military force presence in Iraq,” the resolution reads.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Richard Shelby of Tuscaloosa, who voiced strong skepticism about the troop increase when the strategy was announced, said he would not support the resolution.

In a statement, Shelby said the Bush plan “addresses both the political and military operations necessary to follow through on our obligation to bring about stability in Iraq.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Mobile, said the plan offers “a realistic chance of success.”

The opposing resolution, Sessions said, would be “detrimental to our national security interests because it fosters division in a time of war.”

Democrats mixed

Rep. Artur Davis, a Democrat from Birmingham, is the only Alabama lawmaker calling for a gradual withdrawal, saying American soldiers are caught up in sectarian fighting and that political, not military, solutions are required.

Huntsville Democrat Bud Cramer said Friday he is still weighing Bush’s proposal.

“I am taking a wait-and-see approach, and withholding my judgment ... until after the administration is able to adequately describe the difference the additional troops will provide,” he said in an e-mail.

Other Republicans said Bush, as commander in chief, and his military commanders should be given leeway to conduct the war as they see fit.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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