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A House Divided Among California's Democrats

Iraq: Issue of Bush's bid for a military strike is not splitting the state's congressional contingent neatly along the usual North-South lines.


"Is use of force the first option or the last option?" Feinstein said on the Senate floor Wednesday. "In my view, it should be the last. In my view, working with the international community, doing all we can to disarm Iraq before jumping to military force, remains an option."

Tauscher, a moderate Democrat who comes from a district with a heavy presence of defense industries, also is calling for Congress to take more time to consider the matter. She has joined Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), a leader of the House's antiwar faction, in circulating a letter calling for the vote on Iraq to be postponed until after the elections because she believes the debate is too politicized.

"It is not in the best interests of our nation, nor is it in the best interests of either party, for us to challenge each other's patriotism or our devotion to duty," she said.

Lurking between the committed hawks and doves of the caucus are many like Tauscher who are unsure about how they will vote on the issue--in part because they do not know the exact wording of the resolution that will come before them.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) said he would rather not authorize the use of force until a rigorous effort had been made to return weapon inspectors to Iraq. But if forced to vote on the Bush resolution as introduced, Sherman said he "leans yes."

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