Two top Republicans cast aside President Bush's pleas for patience on Iraq Friday and proposed legislation demanding a new strategy by mid-October to restrict the mission of U.S. troops.
The proposal, by veteran GOP Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Richard Lugar of Indiana, came as the Pentagon conceded that a decreasing number of Iraqi battalions are able to operate on their own.
"American military and diplomatic strategy in Iraq must adjust to the reality that sectarian factionalism is not likely to abate anytime soon and probably cannot be controlled from the top," the Warner-Lugar proposal states.
A congressional panel moved toward seeking contempt charges against former White House counsel Harriet Miers on Thursday after she refused to appear -- under orders from President George W. Bush -- at a hearing on the firing of federal prosecutors.
The White House promptly accused the Democratic-led Congress of looking for a fight and failing to understand separation of federal powers.
"The committee is rejecting accommodation because they prefer just the kind of political spectacle," said spokesman Tony Fratto.
A woman accused of running a Washington prostitution ring placed five phone calls to David Vitter while he was a House member, including two while roll call votes were under way, according to telephone and congressional records.
Vitter, a Louisiana Republican now in the Senate, acknowledged Monday that his number was on the woman's call list and apologized for a "very serious sin." The married father of four has remained in seclusion since, missing Senate votes and other activities Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Iraqi government is achieving only spotty military and political progress, the Bush administration conceded Thursday in an assessment that war critics quickly seized on as confirmation of their dire warnings.
Within hours, the House voted to withdraw U.S. troops by spring.
The House measure passed 223-201 in the Democratic-controlled chamber despite a veto threat from President Bush, who has ruled out any change in war policy before September.
Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt reveled in Sen. David Vitter's admission of a "very serious sin" involving an escort service and said Wednesday he's got leads on embarrassing sexual activities involving other members of Congress.
Vitter, R-La., issued the public statement Monday after Flynt's magazine contacted him and said phone records linked him to a Washington, D.C., service that federal prosecutors say was a prostitution ring.
Flynt said he was indignant over what he called hypocrisy represented by Vitter, 46, a social conservative.
The US Congress on Thursday was to launch a fresh attempt to wrest control of the Iraq war from President George W. Bush while the White House was to report mixed progress in the conflict.
The House of Representatives was to debate and likely vote on a bill demanding the withdrawal of most combat troops from Iraq by April 1 next year, while the Senate plowed through its own emotional debate over the war.
As it struggled to contain a Republican rebellion over Iraq, President George W. Bush's administration prepared to deliver a key interim report on its war strategy to Congress.
Republicans used to reserve their vitriol for Democrats who opposed President George W. Bush's failed war in Iraq.
No more. Now it's the GOP calling other members of their party names because they have joined the majority of citizens in this country in opposing what many see as an illegal and immoral war.
"Wimps," said House Republican leader John Boehner, referring to his Republican Senate colleagues who have backed away from Bush's war.
Several Republican senators told President Bush's top national security aide privately Wednesday that they did not want Bush to wait until September to change course in Iraq.
The meeting that lawmakers had with national security adviser Stephen Hadley came as GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel announced they would back Democratic legislation ordering combat to end next spring.
Senate Democrats moved Tuesday to cut off funding for Vice President Dick Cheney's office in a continuing battle over whether he must comply with national security disclosure rules.
A Senate appropriations panel chaired by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., refused to fund $4.8 million in the vice president's budget until Cheney's office complies with parts of an executive order governing its handling of classified information.
Disgraced Louisiana Republican Conservative Senator David Vitter not only liked high-priced call girls in Washington, DC, but frequented a pricey brothel in his hometown of New Orleans and had a "Tuesdays and Thursdays" fling with another prostitute in the 1990s.
But Republican officials in Louisiana helped cover up Vitter's dalliances with prostitutes, saying "it's very sleazy, and it's illegal. But, OK, it doesn't apply to senators. They're an elite group."