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Iraq Transition

Schneider: The public wants action on Iraq -- now

Story Highlights

• Polls say a majority wants Congress to oppose a troop buildup
• Poll says approval rating for president and Congress equally low -- 32 percent
• Public frustrated that Senate has not debated the Iraq war, according to poll
By Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans are getting frustrated over the Iraq war -- and not just with the Bush administration.

Nearly a third of Americans said in a CBS News poll that Iraq is the most important problem facing the country. No other issue was in double digits.

That's the main reason why President Bush's job approval remains low -- 32 percent. Congress isn't doing any better. Its approval rating was just as low, at 32 percent.

The CBS poll was conducted February 8-11 and had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3 percentage points.

The public is as frustrated with Congress as it is with Bush for failing to start bringing the war in Iraq to a close.

What does the public want Congress to do -- vote against a troop increase? Yes.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll last month, respondents by a margin of nearly two to one -- 64 percent to 32 percent -- said they wanted Congress to oppose sending more troops to Iraq.

And in a USA Today/Gallup poll, 57 percent favored limiting the number of U.S. troops serving in Iraq, and 63 percent wanted Congress to set a timetable for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of next year.

The margin of error for both of the CNN and USA Today/Gallup polls was plus-or-minus 3 percentage points. The USA Today/Gallup poll was conduced February 9-11.

The public's increasing frustration with the war helps explain why the leading Democratic presidential candidates are putting forth proposals meant to hasten the war's end. (Watch Democratic candidates take positions Iraq)

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has proposed legislation that would cap the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has called for a timetable for a withdrawal. And former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards is calling on Congress to "block funding for an escalation of the war.''

While only 8 percent in the CBS News poll want Congress to block all funding for the war, an additional 45 percent want Congress to block funding for an increase in troops.

The House of Representatives is debating a nonbinding resolution. The Senate can't even do that. (Watch the House speaker say the resolution will change the war's course Video)

According to the USA Today/Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans -- 63 percent -- said they were bothered by the Senate's failure to hold a debate. Those who were bothered blamed Republicans more than Democrats by better than two to one (51 percent to 19 percent).

The people elected a Democratic Congress to stand up to Bush on the war. The people are waiting, and they're getting frustrated.


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Polls say a majority of Americans want Congress to limit the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.

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