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Iraq War Resolution Likely to Pass

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Iraq war resolution likely to pass

Daschle backs president on Iraq; Bush prepares to make case against Saddam

Oct. 6 — As President Bush prepares to speak to the nation Monday night on why the United States should be prepared to fight a war with Iraq, there were new signs that Congress is ready to pass a war powers resolution. NBC's Joe Johns reports.

MSNBC STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 — As President Bush prepared over the weekend to announce his case against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Congressional leaders said Sunday that a resolution authorizing war against Iraq is expected to pass with little dissent and will strengthen the United States’ hand at the United Nations. Bush’s Monday night address will take place on the one-year anniversary of the start of bombing in Afghanistan.

SENATE MAJORITY Leader Tom Daschle, who has counseled caution in unilateral moves against Saddam, said he will vote for the resolution but only after trying to make it more to his liking.

“I don’t know that we have any other choice” but war if Saddam doesn’t destroy any weapons of mass destruction he might have, Daschle told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We’ve got to support this effort,” Daschle said of a resolution the president is seeking that would authorize pre-emptive military force against Iraq.

The conciliatory statements did come with a caveat, however: Daschle insisted that any resolution limit the rationale for war to the concern over weapons of mass destruction.

Our “biggest concern,” he said, is to define the purpose in using force, and the United States must “tie it as directly as we can” to U.N. resolutions on weapons of mass destruction.

Bush requested a strong resolution that would have given him a virtual free hand to deal with Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons arsenals and its nuclear arms research program by removing Saddam.

Last week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers went to the White House and endorsed a somewhat narrower version. It would give Bush broad authority to use force to enforce relevant U.N. resolutions, with or without the cooperation of the United Nations.

VOTE EXPECTED THIS WEEK

A House vote is expected Wednesday or Thursday, according to Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill. Daschle said Senate passage should come by next week. Congress is getting ready to break for midterm elections.

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., indicated he might be amenable to amending the House version to increase Senate support. “I think the resolution is fine the way it is,” he said on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “But if we could, you know, allay those fears in some way, certainly you’ve always got to be trying to reach out and get the broadest possible support in the Senate.”

Daschle predicted the Senate vote would be along the lines of 75 in favor, to 25 against, the war resolution.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, told CBS “Face the Nation” that he would not vote for the resolution and that senators should be debating whether to go to war against Iraq, not just the resolution. “The president hasn’t made the case. ... A war ought to be the last resort, not the first resort,” Kennedy said.

MAKING A CASE

Bush warned in his radio address Saturday that “delay, indecision and inaction ... could lead to massive and sudden horror” for the United States. Aides said Sunday his Cincinnati speech will answer lingering questions about why disarming Iraq is necessary, even by force if required.

The speech is meant to deliver in one cohesive 20-minute package Bush’s arguments for confronting Saddam without delay, White House officials said. Bush probably will discuss his ideas for a postwar, post-Saddam Iraq.

“He will frame the debate in a new and different way than he has in the past,” said White House communications director Dan Bartlett. Other officials would not rule out that Bush would discuss new facts or intelligence about the threat posed by Iraq, but they said that was not the purpose of the address.

“I’d like to hear him put Iraq in the context of all of the challenges and commitments” facing the United States today, including the war in Afghanistan, and “how are we going to sequence all of these,” said Sen. Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In an apparent effort to answer Democratic concerns that he has no plans for rebuilding Iraq after possible military action, Bush also began talking about a post-Saddam era.

“Should force be required to bring Saddam to account, the United States will work with other nations to help the Iraqi people rebuild and form a just government,” he said.

MAINTAINING IRAQ’S BORDERS

U.S. officials said Bush wanted to ensure the borders of Iraq remained the same, a signal that Washington does not want to see the country divided among its ethnic groups, including the Kurds in the north.

On Monday, Bush would try to answer “legitimate questions” about protecting the United States from Saddam, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. But Fleischer stopped short of saying the president’s speech would outline new policy or provide new information to justify a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.

Bush urged lawmakers to support the use-of-force resolution and send a clear message to Saddam: “His only choice is to fully comply with the demands of the world, and the time for that choice is limited.”

Some Democrats would prefer the president deal first with the threat posed by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network, blamed by Washington for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States that killed more than 3,000 people.

IRAQ ON PALACES

One long-standing issue with Iraq has been access by U.N. inspectors to its palaces.

On Sunday, Iraq’s U.N. ambassador said that Iraq could “accommodate” a U.N. request for unfettered access to those sites.

Mohammed Aldouri told ABC News that the issue of searching the presidential sites wouldn’t be a “huge problem” between Iraq and the U.N. inspectors.

But he drew the line at having armed guards escort the inspection teams, arguing that there’s no need for the inspectors to have a security force.

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