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Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Senate keeps call for Iraq pullout in spending bill, defies veto threat
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defying a veto threat from President Bush, the Senate Tuesday voted 50-48 to keep a call for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in a $124 billion war spending bill.

The down-to-the wire vote keeps language requiring U.S. combat troops to begin withdrawing from Iraqi within a year and complete that pullout in another year. A reduced American contingent would stay to focus on training Iraqi troops and police and battling al Qaeda terrorists.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the bill's demand for a U.S. withdrawal would effectively set a "surrender date" in the 4-year-old war.

"Setting a date for withdrawal is like sending a memo to our enemies that tells them to rest, refit and replan until the day we leave," he said. "It's a memo to our friends, too, telling them we plan to walk away and leave them on their own, regardless of what we leave behind."

But Sen. Dick Durbin, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, said the call for a pullout is a step toward bringing "the worst foreign policy mistake of our time" to an end.

"Now it's time for us to make it clear to the Iraqis it is their country. It is their war. It is their future," he said. Bush has threatened to veto any bill that contains a call for a U.S.
withdrawal from Iraq or what he considered extraneous pork-barrel spending.

When the spending bill, containing a different deadline, passed the House of Representatives on Friday, he denounced it as "political theater."
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