The Senate voted 98-0 Thursday to show unified support for President Bush and troops in the Persian Gulf - but only after a day of behind-doors partisan bickering.
The vote came less than a week after the Senate voted by just a five-vote margin to authorize war."They (Democrats) didn't include the president in expressing the gratitude of Congress," complained Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, earlier in the day as the Senate tried to work out wording privately on a resolution that all could support.
Some Democrats had pushed for a resolution that would express support for the troops but not the president.
Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, was anxious to avoid reopening debate on whether the nation should be at war and said, "We want to do this in a way to convey the unity we feel." But Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said, "They (Democrats) don't want to say anything good about Bush."
The Senate finally agreed on a compromise that "commends and supports" Bush - but only in his role as commander in chief - and "unequivocally supports" the members of the armed services who it said are acting with "excellence, dedicated patriotism and exemplary bravery."
The behind-the-scenes partisan bickering drew harsh reaction from Utah's two senators.
"It's pathetic," Hatch said. "It's pathetic to allow partisan politics to enter in now when everyone knows we need total solidarity and we need to have the American people behind what's happening. I'm frankly offended.
"I think it's time to get rid of the partisan politics and do what's best for our young men and women, saving as many lives as we can and pulling together."
Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, said, "Certainly the bickering that went on today has no place whatsoever in a time of war. Partisan bickering should go out. So I'm very pleased that it's been resolved."
Hatch earlier in the day had also complained that some Senate members who had voted against the president on Saturday "want to have it both ways" by supporting the president now that the war has begun and appears to be going well.
But those who had voted against the president said it was simply time to unite behind Bush. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., said, "Together we stand in support of our men and women on the front line."
As the House prepared to debate a similar resolution on Friday, all members from Utah also expressed strong support of the president and the war.