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Liberal Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold said Sunday he wants Congress to censure President Bush for his management of the Iraq war and his “assault” against the Constitution.
But Feingold’s own party leader in the Senate showed little interest in the idea. An attempt in 2006 by Feingold to censure Bush over the warrantless spying program attracted only three co-sponsors.
Feingold, a prominent war critic, said he soon plans to offer two censure resolutions — measures that would amount to a formal condemnation of the Republican president.
The first would seek to reprimand Bush for, as Feingold described it, getting the nation into war without adequate military preparation and for issuing misleading public statements. The resolution also would cite Vice President Dick Cheney and perhaps other administration officials.
The second measure would seek to censure Bush for what the Democrat called a continuous assault against the rule of law through such efforts as the warrantless surveillance program against suspected terrorists, Feingold said. It would also ask for a reprimand of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and maybe others.
“This is an opportunity for people to say, let’s at least reflect on the record that something terrible has happened here,” said Feingold, D-Wis. “This administration has weakened America in a way that is frightful.”
At the White House, spokesman Trey Bohn said, “We realize that Senator Feingold does not care much for the president’s policies.”
Bohn said Bush wants to work with Feingold and other Democrats on such matters as supporting U.S. troops, improving energy choices and securing health care and tax cuts for families. “Perhaps after calls for censure and more investigations, Congress may turn to such things,” Bohn said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Feingold’s proposals showed the nation’s frustration. But Reid said he would not go along with them and said the Senate needs to focus on finishing spending bills on defense and homeland security.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Reid said. “The president already has the mark of the American people — he’s the worst president we ever had. I don’t think we need a censure resolution in the Senate to prove that.”
As for the Senate’s top Republican, “I think it’s safe to say Russ Feingold is not a fan of George Bush. I think that’s the best way to sum that up,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Feingold spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Reid appeared on “Face the Nation” on CBS, while McConnell was on “Late Edition” on CNN.