WASHINGTON — Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback said Thursday he would not support a resolution drafted by Democrats opposing President Bush's Iraq plan, but he could back a rival proposal that contains less partisan language.
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Brownback, among the first Republican lawmakers to publicly break with the president over a troop increase in Iraq, said the resolution approved this week by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is too divisive.
"I think what we ought to be discussing now as these resolutions move forward is what we should support, not what we're opposed to, and what we can pull together on, not what we're divided on," Brownback said during a conference call with reporters.
The Senate panel on Wednesday passed a resolution that rejects Bush's plans to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq as "not in the national interest." The vote on the nonbinding measure was largely along party lines, though Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., joined Democrats in offering his support.
'We have to be united here to win over there'
Brownback, who is running for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, said he prefers a milder resolution drafted by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., that leaves open the possibility of Bush sending in a much smaller number of troops.
"I believe we've got to get to a political solution. We cannot impose a military solution," Brownback said. "I also believe we have to be united here to win over there. You can't have a war with one party supporting it and one party opposing it."
Several GOP Senators, including Susan Collins, R-Maine, Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., have backed Warner's resolution and other Republicans, like Brownback, say they might be willing to sign on as well.
Despite his opposition to the resolution, Brownback he remains against the idea of sending more troops to Iraq.
"The Iraqis need to do the patrolling in Iraq and we should be fighting terrorists and not becoming targets for terrorists," Brownback said. "I think sending more troops delays some of those requirements that we need to have."
Asked if he would vote against funding an increase in troops, Brownback said, "I'm not at that point."
He has called on the Bush administration to step up diplomatic efforts to quell the violence in Iraq. Ultimately, Brownback said he expects to see a "three-state, one country solution" for Iraq, where the nation is divided into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions, with Baghdad as a federal city.
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