WASHINGTON -- A group of liberal House Democrats, who had gone to court to try to prevent President Bush from unilaterally committing troops to the Persian Gulf, is trying now to gather bipartisan congressional support for a cease-fire.
Representative Ronald V. Dellums, D-Calif., and more than 80 House Democrats hope to support, through legislation or a congressional letter, what they consider to be the
thrust of a joint statement issued Tuesday night by the United States and the Soviet Union calling for Iraq to make an "unequivocal commitment" to leave Kuwait and pledging a U.S.-Soviet effort to seek a comprehensive Mideast peace.
"We want to encourage this; we think it's a very positive measure," said Robert Brauer, an aide to Mr. Dellums.
Representative Kweisi Mfume, D-Md.-7th, one of the House members involved in the effort, said he believes the U.S.-Soviet statement
"provides a fig leaf for Mr. Hussein" to leave Kuwait.
Bush administration officials warned yesterday against "misinterpretation" of the statement and stressed that U.S. policy still mandated a "massive withdrawal" of Iraqi forces from Kuwait to end the gulf war. The administration has also refused to link a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict to that withdrawal.
But a draft of the House measure puts Congress behind the statement and urges Mr. Hussein to "accept the terms and conditions of this initiative, which would result in the cessation of hostilities and would bring peace to the region."
The House Democrats involved in the effort are the same ones who had filed a lawsuit in November in U.S. District Court seeking an injunction to bar the president from using force to oust Iraq from Kuwait without authorization from Congress.
But U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene ruled in December that it was too early for him to make a decision because Congress had not made clear where it stood and the president had not yet made clear that he would attack.