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Softened Iran Resolution Passes Senate

After 24 hours of wrangling over legislative language, the Senate adopted a resolution that urges the Bush administration to designate a militant Iranian group as a "foreign terrorist organization."

The vote was 76-22, but Republican supporters had to drop two key paragraphs from the non-binding legislation to win over most Democrats. The deleted sections would have called for the United States to use "all instruments of United States national power inside Iraq" including diplomatic and military means, to support American policy in containing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has been a major supplier of arms to Iraqi insurgents.

The softening of the resolution still didn't please a hardened group of 19 Democrats who do not trust the Bush administration or Republicans in setting new policies on Iran. Two Republican senators, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Richard Lugar of Indiana, also voted against the resolution.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), the leading voice in opposition to the resolution, said the Senate was essentially labeling a formal arm of the Iranian military as a terrorist organization because the IRGC is part of the Tehran government. Most State Department designated terrorist organizations are not officially part of foreign governments.

Webb said the resolution was "a de facto authorization for use of military force against Iran."

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), said there was no military purpose in the resolution, which he cosponsored. "Our intention is to increase the economic pressure," Lieberman said.

Democratic presidential candidates were divided on the question. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York voted for the resolution, while Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut voted against the measure. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), missed the vote.

Separately, the Senate adopted another resolution, 75-23, which would encourage Iraq to adopt a federalism approach to organizing the country along ethnic boundaries.

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