Senate Democrats are confident they can pass legislation to give troops more rest between Iraq deployments, a measure aimed at pressing the Bush administration to change its war policy.
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the proposal by Democratic Sen. Jim Webb a dangerous "backdoor way" to draw down additional forces. Gates said he would recommend a veto.
Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat, responded that shorter breaks were creating an undue strain on US troops and their families.
"They deserve the same amount of time back home as they stay in the field," Reed said.