Washington: The US Senate on 27 March endorsed a 31 March, 2008, target date for withdrawing American combat troops from Iraq, moving Congress a step closer to a showdown with President George W. Bush over the war.
By a vote of 50-48, the Senate defeated an amendment that would have stricken the withdrawal language from a $121.6 billion bill that mostly would fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A final vote on the bill is expected later this week.
Bush has promised to veto any legislation with dates for withdrawing from Iraq, including a measure passed by the US House of Representatives on Friday.
“This war is not worth the spilling of another drop of American blood,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in pleading for the troop withdrawal plan included in the money bill.
The Senate vote came four days after the House passed its version of a war-spending bill that would set a mandatory 1 September, 2008, deadline for withdrawing all US combat troops from Iraq.
Under the Senate bill, which is still being debated, the United States would begin a phased withdrawal of troops this year with the goal, not the requirement, that it be completed by 31 March, 2008.
Tuesday’s vote in the Senate marked progress for Democrats, who failed recently to pass a similar, non-binding resolution calling for a troop withdrawal.