Senate disapproves Bush's Iraq war policy

The Democratic-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee dismissed President George W. Bush's plans to increase troop strength in Iraq on Wednesday as "not in the national interest," an unusual wartime repudiation of the commander in chief. The vote on the nonbinding resolution was 12-9, largely along party lines. "We better be damn sure we know what we're doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder," said Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, the sole Republican to join 11 Democrats in support of the measure. Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden, the panel's chairman, said the legislation is "not an attempt to embarrass the president. ... It's an attempt to save the president from making a significant mistake with regard to our policy in Iraq." The full Senate is scheduled to begin debate on the measure next week, and Biden has said he is willing to negotiate changes in hopes of attracting support from more Republicans. Democrats in the House of Representatives intend to hold a vote shortly after the Senate acts. Even Republicans opposed to the legislation expressed unease with the revised policy involving a war that has lasted almost four years, claimed the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis and helped Democrats win control of Congress in last November's elections. "I am not confident that President Bush's plan will succeed," said Sen. Richard Lugar, the committee's senior Republican.