Lott warns against 'specific' resolution
Others say Bush must make case for military action
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Even as several lawmakers said President Bush has further to go in making the case for U.S. military action against Iraq, Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott said Monday he does not want any congressional resolution on the use of force to be "overly specific."
"You don't want it just a carte blanche. But the same time, you know, the problem we're dealing with is multifaceted and in a number of places," Lott said, adding that the language will have to be "carefully crafted" and will be decided on as part of a "process" between the White House and Congress.
One point that would be included would be the fact that Iraqi's leader has consistently ignored the United Nations, he said.
"The United Nations has acted repeatedly and Saddam Hussein has made commitments to comply, which he has not done, and surely we would reference that," said Lott, a Mississippi Republican
He added that congressional approval to use force against Iraq wouldn't necessarily mean it would happen, at least not immediately.
"Just because the president gets the authority doesn't mean that, you know, the troops are fixing to go in that day, but it gives him the authority to get ready to do that if that's what's necessary," Lott said.
The GOP leader dismissed questions about whether Republicans will be seen as trying to politicize the issue by beating the war drums just before an election.
"This is not something that's new. This issue has been around for, frankly, for years. The president or vice president and others have been warning all year long that this is a problem and a growing problem," Lott said. "I don't know that military action would start before the elections, I would expect it would not, but this is such a serious matter that you cannot ignore it."
Although senators from both parties believe a resolution will ultimately pass, some say the votes are not there yet because the president still has some work to do on making a case to Congress.
"People are not convinced," said Sen. John Breaux, D-Louisana. "You got to make sure you have the votes before it's brought up. We'll be there if the information is there, but it's not there yet."
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, commended the president for getting his advisers out to begin making the case for the immediate need to oust Hussein over the weekend, but said, "it is premature for me to make a decision" on the way the United States should proceed with regard to Iraq.
Snowe said the president has "a ways to go on this debate." She said questions the administration must address include: "What has changed the tenor of the risk? Why is it more immediate? Is it more imminent?"
Lott said he feels most senators who are currently skeptical of U.S. military action against Iraq -- including those in his party -- will ultimately support a resolution allowing the use of force.
Most senators have said they will be listening closely to the president's speech to the United Nations Thursday, adding that it will have a big affect on the tenor of the congressional debate.
"Clearly this is an important speech," said Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who said he is reluctant to support a use of force resolution against Iraq.
"It will set the stage for the direction and ultimate vote on a resolution," said Craig.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said he hopes Bush will make the case that Hussein has broken U.N. agreements he signed after he lost a war.
That argument is "salient" enough, said McCain, to justify action to both the U.S. public and allies around the world.
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