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WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn said Tuesday an exit of U.S. troops from Iraq could lead to genocide and a Middle East dominated by Iran.

"The American people should not respond just to the urge to get out of Iraq, but respond to the well thought out consequences of what happens next,” said Coburn, R-Muskogee. "And what happens next is a disaster not only for the people of Iraq, for the people of the Middle East, but also for the national security of this country and our ability to carry out a foreign policy.”

On the Senate floor, Coburn said Republicans supportive of the president's decision to add troops in Iraq were not trying to block debate on the issue. He said some senators simply want to be able to vote on a resolution to express support for troops.

But Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said, "The best way to support our troops is not to send more in harm's way.”

Senate impasse

The comments came as Senate leaders were at an impasse on ground rules to debate Iraq.

Republicans on Monday effectively blocked debate on a resolution to express disapproval of adding more than 20,000 troops to the U.S. force in Iraq, as President Bush as proposed.

Republicans have offered to allow debate on a resolution about the troop surge if the Senate also could debate a resolution expressing support for the troops. Both of the resolutions are nonbinding. But senators have been arguing for days over how to proceed.

House Democratic leaders announced they would debate Bush's proposal to add troops next week. House rules make it much easier to debate legislation from the majority party.

But the Democrats' slim majority in the Senate restricts their moves in a body that often must function with unanimous agreements or 60-vote majorities, rather than a simple majority of 51.


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