Democrats may revise 2002 bill allowing Bush to call war

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democrats may promote a new revised bill authorizing the use of force in Iraq -- to replace the 2002 bill that allowed the Bush administration to proceed with the war, a top Democrat said Friday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer -- No. 2 in the House behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- said that is one step Democrats might pursue to change conditions in Iraq.

"Frankly, it is time for the president to accept that we are no longer involved in a nation-building exercise. We are involved in conflict resolution," Hoyer said during a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

After a series of congressional hearings on the war, "We will then explore appropriate ways to affect the policy and strategy being pursued in Iraq," Hoyer said.

Some ways include spending bills for military and diplomatic activities in Iraq "and possibly a revised authorization for the use of military force in Iraq that more accurately reflects the mission of our troops on the ground," he said.

Democrats want to shift responsibility to Iraqis, begin "the phased redeployment of our forces within the next six months," and implement "an aggressive diplomatic strategy," he said.

Among the ways "to affect the policy and strategy being pursued in Iraq" were spending bills for military and diplomatic activities in Iraq, he said.

Next week, the Senate is expected to pass a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, and the House will likely follow suit, Hoyer said.

"Beyond this resolution, though, our goal in the House is to conduct the kind of oversight of the president's policy that has been sorely missing during the nearly four years of this war. Democrats intend to hold this administration accountable," the Maryland Democrat said.

"I believe the administration's Iraq policy is the most incompetent implementation of American foreign policy in my lifetime."

Hoyer was also critical of other nations, saying they were ignoring their obligations.

Of the $13.5 billion pledged by various nations for Iraq at a donors' conference in 2003, only $3.5 billion "has made its way to Iraq," he said.

He noted the Iraq Study Group's call for the United States and Iraq to get Arab leaders involved. "We also should ask these countries to invest some small percentage of their hundreds of billions of dollars made in oil profits to help bolster security and reconstruction efforts," Hoyer said.

He called for a new international conference. "I would propose that this conference be carried out under U.N. auspices, with robust involvement from various Iraqi factions, neighboring countries, key Middle East nations, the European Union and others, with the hope of brokering deals on securing Iraq's borders, disbanding militias, finalizing the constitution, establishing divisions of power and oil resources, and other issues."

He said he agrees with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that Iraq "is the whole world's problem.

"While the world can and should critically evaluate the administration's flawed execution of this war, we cannot ignore the central argument that our action was, in part, a consequence of the international community's failure to act multilaterally," Hoyer said, citing Saddam Hussein's flouting of U.N. resolutions. "The U.N. only talked in the face of international violations, even though history demonstrates that vacillation only emboldens those who seek to rule through force and terror."

"The international community must embrace its responsibility in Iraq," he added.