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Reid Still Unsure of Next Step on Iraq

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged Thursday that his party has not yet coalesced around a single approach to addressing the Iraq War, but said he remains committed to resuming the weeks long fight over the issue following completion of the 9/11 bill next week.

While maintaining that “Democrats are united” on Iraq, Reid conceded that his party remains split on how to proceed, with Members still backing various proposals ranging from a plan to use Congress’ control of spending to end the war to a plan to rewrite the 2002 war authorization to restrict President Bush’s authority. “Democrats haven’t put our arms around [a plan] yet on how to move” on Iraq, Reid said.

For the first time, Reid also hinted at his own frustration with the fact that supporters of a new authorization have been making a highly public push for their proposal without first ensuring support from the Caucus.

“Frankly, a lot of the talk over the last week has been by people talking on their own, not for the Caucus,” Reid said in an apparent reference to public statements by presidential hopeful Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the two primary proponents of the plan.

Nevertheless, Reid indicated that he will look to bring the issue back to the fore following the 9/11 debate, and that discussions with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on how to structure the debate likely will continue over the next week. Reid said those talks have included GOP demands that the chamber consider a resolution proposed by presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) supporting President Bush’s “surge” plan, a resolution authored by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) expressing opposition to defunding troops in Iraq, and a compromise resolution backed by Sen. John Warner (R-Va.).

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