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Democrats making gains on new war resolution

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic-led Senate is moving closer to rewriting the measure that paved the way for President Bush to invade Iraq nearly four years ago, two top Democratic lawmakers said yesterday.

The move would not repeal the Senate's 2002 vote authorizing the war. It would limit the mission of US troops to focus on counterterrorism efforts such as protecting Iraq's borders, said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"It will not be combat in the middle of Baghdad. It will be a transition to a more limited mission of supporting the Baghdad army training and logistics," the Michigan Democrat told CBS's "Face the Nation."

He added that the measure, expected to come up this week, would be binding.

Democrats, who took over both houses of Congress in January, have been searching for a way to express their displeasure with Bush's plan to increase US troops in Iraq. They have largely rejected the idea of withholding funds for the war.

A previous bid to pass a nonbinding resolution rebuking the troop build-up stalled, but Levin and Senator Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat, said this new effort is gaining greater support among nearly all Democrats.

"We are coming to a very broad consensus, and that consensus . . . is this: that we ought to change the mission," Schumer, vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Conference, told ABC's "This Week."

The new measure is unlikely to win over many supporters of the war. It is also unclear whether the House would follow the Senate's lead.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, who has supported the Iraq invasion, told CBS that the resolution made no sense and said Bush's plan should be given time to work.

Senator Lindsey O. Graham, a South Carolina Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said every resolution against the US effort in Iraq damaged the mission's chance of success.

"This is our last best chance . . . it's not more of the same," he told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Democrats also may attach conditions to any measures that fund US troops. They are considering requiring that rotations into Iraq be limited to a year and mandating that soldiers be adequately equipped and trained. Some also want to call for troops to be withdrawn from Iraq in six months.

"All of these Democratic resolutions -- none of them think through what happens if we leave Iraq in six months or a year," Graham added.