Determined to send an unambiguous and bipartisan message of disapproval for the troop buildup, Democrats moved Monday night to block Republicans from proposing any alternative, including one that would have guaranteed funding for U.S. forces in Iraq.
The approach reflects the dilemma facing Democrats on the war, which figured prominently in their rise to power. There is broad support for the Democratic-written resolution opposing Bush's plan to add 21,500 troops. But many rank-and-file members - particularly moderate newcomers who rode to Congress on a wave of public discontent about Iraq - are wary of casting any vote that could be construed as ending funding for the mission.
House Republicans assailed Democrats Tuesday for barring them from offering their own Iraq resolution, accusing them of stifling votes on a vital issue.
Rep. David Dreier of California, the senior Rules Committee Republican, said the constraints rendered the 36-hour debate that opened Tuesday morning "really little more than a joke."
Democratic leaders had said earlier that Republicans would have a chance to offer their own measure, but quickly reversed course, and the leadership-controlled Rules Committee voted Monday night to deny the minority the option.
"It became clear to us that the only way we could give to the American people a very clear indication of where the Congress stood as it related to the president's proposal was this process," Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said.
Democrats want no debate,
Democrats want power,
Democrats don't listen to differing views,
Democrats tell you what to think.
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