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House blocks Democrats' resolution on Iraq war

WASHINGTON -- Democrats tried unsuccessfully yesterday to force the House to take up a measure condemning Republicans for ''their refusal to conduct oversight" of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy and to order investigations into it.

The House voted, 220 to 191, to set aside a resolution offered by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California.

''I think it brings shame to the House for this Congress to be engaged in a coverup when it comes to revealing what's happening in Iraq," Pelosi said.

A smattering of Republicans on the House floor yelled objections in response. None took the floor to address Pelosi's charges, and Representative Phil Gingrey, Republican of Georgia, who was presiding over the chamber at the time, ruled her effort out of order on procedural grounds.

Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois, dismissed Pelosi's effort. ''The minority leader is a few days late and plenty of politics short," he said. ''She's trying to grab cheap headlines after she saw the Senate Democratic leader attempt to."

Pelosi's effort to shine a spotlight on the Iraq war was made two days after her counterpart in the Senate, Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, forced that chamber into an unusual closed session for more than two hours to discuss Iraq and prewar intelligence.

Republicans decried the effort as a political stunt and accused Democrats of trying to change the subject from the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

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