- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2007

White House press secretary Tony Snow said a nonbinding House resolution rejecting a surge of American forces into Iraq was premature, even as Democratic senators announced legislation that would revoke authorization for the war Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday called the “worst foreign-policy mistake in American history.”

“Well, for one thing, the strategy has barely had a chance to begin working,” Mr. Snow told CNN’s “Late Edition,” when asked about a House vote on Friday that voiced disapproval at sending 21,500 additional Americans to Iraq.

“The president has made the case to members of the House and Senate: Hey, you guys have been supporting General David Petraeus,” he said of the new U.S. commander in Iraq. “The Senate confirmation vote was 81 to nothing. Why not give him the reinforcements he says are necessary to get the job done?”

Appearing later on the same program, Mr. Reid told host Wolf Blitzer, “This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign-policy mistake in the history of this country.” When Mr. Blitzer asked if he understood Mr. Reid correctly, the Nevada Democrat replied, “That’s what I said.”

“I was a little amazed,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said during his own “Late Edition,” appearance in response to Mr. Reid. “I’m sure he’s not complaining that we haven’t been attacked again since 9/11 here at home.”

On Saturday, Senate Democrats were unable to gather the 60 votes necessary to pass their own nonbinding resolution opposing the troop surge, although 56 senators — including seven Republicans — voted to break a filibuster on the resolution.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. said he is building support for a resolution that would overturn the 2002 vote giving Mr. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.

“I’ve been working with some of my colleagues to try to convince them that that’s the way to go, to repeal and restate the president’s authority,” the Delaware Democrat, who is running for his party’s 2008 presidential nomination, told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Mr. Biden, the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee chairman, supported the 2002 resolution.

However, the ranking Republican on Mr. Biden’s committee said he doesn’t think such a resolution has the support to pass. “I don’t believe that it does, and I think the president would veto it, and the veto would be upheld,” Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Democrat, said during his own “Face the Nation” appearance.

Sen. Carl Levin, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, said he supports Mr. Biden’s proposal.

“I think probably the best approach would be to modify the authorization to the president to go to war in Iraq,” the Michigan Democrat told “Fox News Sunday.”

“We, I think, will be looking at a modification of that authorization in order to limit the mission of American troops to a support mission instead of a combat mission, and that is very different from cutting off funds.”

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, another Democrat seeking his party’s 2008 presidential nomination, said he also supports the Biden proposal.

“Now that they’ve identified where the votes may be … is a resolution that takes away the authorization for the war, that has clear benchmarks on withdrawal, but also has some very strong diplomatic initiatives,” Mr. Richardson told CNN’s “Late Edition.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Snow said failure in Iraq would embolden both al Qaeda and Iranian forces seeking to strengthen their influence within the country. “What it does is it weakens us economically and strategically,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We can’t afford that, and that’s why the president is committed to succeeding in Iraq.”

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