As Congress continued debate Friday on whether to go to war with Iraq, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told the Senate that use of force is the only remaining alternative.
Meanwhile, Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, was among undecided House members who met with President Bush Friday to hear his views directly before making up their minds. And Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, was among those working against the president's position.That all came as leaders predicted the president may win a narrow victory in a House vote expected on Saturday but had only a 50-50 chance in the Senate - where Republican leader Bob Dole reserved the right to filibuster to prevent a so-far unscheduled vote.
In the Senate, Hatch said Thursday, "We must consider the only remaining alternative - the use of force. . . .
"If we support the president, the possibility exists that Saddam Hussein will finally understand that we mean business, that he must either withdraw or face war. Under those conditions, he might finally back down in order to avoid suicide.
"If we want peace, we must support the resolution to endorse the president's authority to use force," said Hatch, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
But Democratic leaders want to give economic sanctions more time to work. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, said, "There has been no clear rationale, no convincing explanation for shifting American policy from one of sanctions to one of war."
Owens told the Deseret News he agrees that economic sanctions should be given more time to work and Congress should not empower Bush to attack yet - and will vote against giving him that power. "War should be the last resort after everything else has failed. We should give sanctions more time," he said.
Against such arguments, Hatch told the Senate, "After six months, sanctions have had their day in court. But it's time to recognize the fact that economic sanctions alone will not force Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait. They can impoverish Iraq, but they cannot break Hussein's will."
Hatch added, "A man who accepted the loss of over 1 million troops in a decade of war with Iran will not cave in as a result of higher consumer prices."
Hatch said that waiting could increase casualties by giving Iraq more time to fortify defenses, could give Iraq time to weaken the United Nations coalition against him, give smugglers time to circumvent blockades to Iraq and possibly give Iran time to connect pipelines to Iraq to sell oil on its behalf.
"Those who urge us to wait a year or more portray this conflict as a kind of waiting game," Hatch said. "They foolishly believe that things can only get worse for Hussein and better for us. But that's not the case."
While Hatch urged support for the president, others outlined reasons to oppose him.
Newly elected Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., gave his first speech in the Senate saying, "I'm the son of a Jewish immigrant from the Soviet Union, and if I believed that Saddam Hussein was a Hitler and that we must go to war to stop him, . . . I could accept the loss of one of my children, ages 25, 21 and 18."
But, he said, "I could not accept the loss of life of any of our children in the Persian Gulf right now, and that tells me in my gut I do not believe it is time to go to war."
Mitchell said in the Senate, "Just this morning I heard it said that there may be `only' a few thousand American casualties. . . . The truly haunting question, which no one will ever be able to answer, will be: Did they die unnecessarily? For if we go to war now, no one will ever know if sanctions would have worked, if given a full and fair chance."
President Bush had breakfast Friday with Orton and other undecided members to win their support. However, after the meeting, Orton said he was still struggling about which way to vote.
"I'm still undecided. This really is the hardest vote imaginable. There are such good reasons to support either side," Orton said.
He said he asked Bush if there is any evidence to indicate whether waiting would hurt the United States militarily. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney answered that diplomatic sources have suggested that a delay might weaken the alliance against Iraq.
Orton also asked the president about the postwar scenario. "He (Bush) said, `We have a problem after that action, but we have a greater problem if we don't take action.' "
Owens said the House will likely vote on three different resolutions on Saturday.
"The first vote will likely be on a resolution that simply says the president must come to Congress for approval before he takes any offensive action in Iraq. It should pass easily," said Owens, a member of the House Foreign Affairs committee.
The next vote will likely come on a resolution co-sponsored by House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., which calls for economic sanctions to continue and does not at this time authorize offensive use of force. "I think it will fail, but the vote may be close," Owens said, even though he supports it.
That same resolution is given a 50-50 chance of passing in the Senate by leaders.
The final possible House vote will be on a resolution authorizing force. "It will probably pass," Owens said. "We might have to come back next week to reconcile differences with the Senate."
Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, was not in Washington for the beginning of the debate on Thursday but was flying in for sessions on Friday. Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, refused to respond to Deseret News inquiries about his stance on the Persian Gulf.