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Senate panel rejects Bush's troop surge in Iraq

The senate committee that oversees US foreign relations on Wednesday voted in favour of a resolution rejecting US President George W Bush's troop surge in Iraq.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2007 09:39 IST

The senate committee that oversees US foreign relations on Wednesday voted in favour of a resolution rejecting US President George W Bush's troop surge in Iraq, saying it is not in the interest of the US.

The non-binding resolution was passed by a 12-9 margin and will go to the full senate next week. One Republican, senator Chuck Hagel, joined the majority Democrats in supporting the resolution.

The vote came less than 24 hours after Bush urged Congress to give his revised strategy that includes sending an additional 21,500 soldiers to Iraq. Democrats strongly oppose the plan that has also left many of Bush's Republicans divided.

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden, said the resolution was aimed at saving Bush from a "significant mistake".

"Our resolution of disapproval is not - I emphasise not - an attempt to embarrass the president, it is not an attempt to demonstrate isolation," Biden said.

Bush does not need congressional approval to move forward with his plans. The additional troop deployments have already begun.

"The president has made his decision," Vice President Dick Cheney said in a Wednesday interview with CNN. "The fact of the matter is we need to get the job done."

Senator Chuck Hagel has been the most vocal of Republicans critical of the Bush administration's lack of planning in Iraq and joined Democrats in opposing the troop increases. Hagel called on all senators to put politics aside and take a genuine position on the conflict.

"If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes," Hagel said. "This is a tough business. But we owe it to those men and women that we continue to send in that grinder."

Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who has generally been in line with Bush on foreign policy issues, said he did not support sending more soldiers into Iraq but refused to endorse the Democrats' resolution.

"It is unclear to me how passing a non-binding resolution that the president has already said he will ignore will contribute to any improvement or modification of our Iraq policy," Lugar said.

"The president is deeply invested in this plan and the deployments opposed by the resolution have already begun," he added.