By Noam N. Levey and James Gerstenzang, Times Staff Writers
April 20, 2007
WASHINGTON — In another sign of Republican unease with the president's Iraq policies, a third GOP senator expressed support Thursday for pulling U.S. forces out of Iraq under certain conditions.
Sen. Olympia J. Snowe announced she would sponsor a bill to require American commanders to plan a withdrawal within 120 days of the bill's enactment, unless the Iraqi government meets a series of benchmarks.
"The Iraq government needs to understand that our commitment is not infinite," said Snowe, a moderate from Maine who frequently departs from the party line.
President Bush has insisted that Congress not impose any limits on his conduct of the four-year-old war. But Snowe has taken issue with that view.
"It is our business as well," she said Thursday.
Snowe is not backing a Senate Democratic plan approved last month that would require the president to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days and would set a nonbinding goal of complete withdrawal by March.
But that plan did draw the support of two GOP senators, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon H. Smith of Oregon.
The Senate proposal and a House version approved last month — which both include benchmarks for the Iraqi government — are being merged into one proposal.
Democratic leaders said they expected to have the compromise measure ready for a vote next week.
Bush, who has promised to veto the measure and has spoken out forcefully against it, took his campaign on the road Thursday at a town hall event in House Minority Leader John A. Boehner's western Ohio district.