- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President
Bush turns his attention on Friday to the United Nations after the Senate
joined the House in strong votes authorizing a possible U.S. attack on
- The Republican-led House and Democratic-led Senate by
wide margins approved the resolution that Bush wanted to reinforce his
demand that the U.N. Security Council threaten the use of force, if necessary,
to enforce its requirements that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein abandon
programs for biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
- "The Congress has spoken clearly to the international
community and the United Nations Security Council," Bush said in a
statement issued after the early-hours vote.
- "Saddam Hussein and his outlaw regime pose a grave
threat to the region, the world, and the United States. Inaction is not
an option, disarmament is a must," Bush said.
- The House earlier Thursday passed the resolution 296-133
after three days of debate.
- Under intense pressure from the White House, which wanted
a big bipartisan majority in Congress to strengthen its hand in its confrontation
with Iraq, the Democratic-led Senate passed the war powers resolution,
- The Senate vote that capped a week of debate came after
lawmakers explained the votes they intended to cast that could lead to
- Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat,
helped give Bush the sizable win he sought by announcing he would support
the resolution despite earlier reservations.
- DEMOCRATS SPLIT
- Democrats were split, with 29 voting for the resolution
and 21 against it. Also voting against it were Republican Lincoln Chafee
of Rhode Island and independent James Jeffords of Vermont.
- "For me, the deciding factor is my belief that a
united Congress will help the president unite the world. And by uniting
the world, we can increase the world's chances of succeeding in this effort,
and reduce both the risks and the costs that America may have to bear,"
- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden,
a Delaware Democrat who initially criticized the war powers resolution
as too broad, said he decided to back it "because we should support
compelling Iraq to make good on its obligations to the United Nations."
- Biden also said "a strong vote in Congress increases
the prospect for a tough new U.N. resolution on weapons inspections, which
in turn decreases the prospects of war."
- But a number of Democrats said the resolution set a dangerous
precedent for unilateral pre-emptive strikes, that Bush had not made a
case that Iraq posed an imminent threat, and that conflict in Iraq would
detract from efforts to root out terrorist groups they said posed a greater
- Iraq pledged to give up weapons of mass destruction following
the 1991 Gulf War. But the Bush administration accuses Saddam of developing
those weapons in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions -- a charge
- COUNCIL NEGOTIATIONS
- While Iraq has agreed to allow arms inspectors to return
after a four-year absence, the 15-nation U.N. Security Council is locked
in negotiations on how intrusive it wants U.N. inspections to be.
- Bush insists the Security Council resolve to use force
if Baghdad does not comply with inspections, with a threat now endorsed
by Congress that Washington would lead an attack if the United Nations
- The council is expected to hold an open debate on Iraq
next week, perhaps even before a resolution on possible military action
is formally introduced, council members said Thursday.
- While Cameroon's U.N. ambassador, Martin Belinga-Eboutou,
this month's council president, is consulting the body's membership on
a date, most members interviewed expect the meeting next week, possibly
by Wednesday, with some 100 speakers addressing the council.
- France, which is leading criticism of a U.S.-drafted
measure that was circulated informally, stands to benefit from a public
meeting, where ambassadors may speak against any unilateral American military
strike and in favor of giving weapons inspectors an opportunity to do their
- The U.S. draft would rewrite the ground rules for inspections
and allow any U.N. member to decide, without further council consultation,
when Iraq has violated any terms of the new resolution and then launch
a military strike.
- France wants two resolutions, which Russia and China
back to varying degrees. The first would say that the council had to meet
immediately after a report by U.N. arms inspectors of "any serious
failure by Iraq to comply with its obligations" and "consider
any measure to ensure full compliance."
- Another resolution would be needed to authorize a military
strike, if necessary.