The U.S. Republican-controlled Senate has given an endorsement to President Bush's Iraq policy, soundly defeating Democratic proposals to withdraw troops from Iraq.
Vice President Dick Cheney criticized the Democratic proposals, telling CNN television, it is "absolutely the worst possible thing we could do at this point."
One democratic proposal called for a phased redeployment of troops to begin this year, while the other set July, 2007 as the deadline for complete withdrawal.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, rejected Republican arguments that a withdrawal is irresponsible. He said the United States should not have an open-ended commitment in Iraq and said troops should be redeployed to respond to other global challenges.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist argued that the objective of building a democratic Iraq is possible -- and being achieved.
Senators voted 60 to 39 Thursday against a phased redeployment, and 86 to 13 against a complete departure.
Democrat Carl Levin proposed the measure for a phased redeployment. John Kerry, who ran against President Bush in the 2004 presidential election, introduced the proposal for the full withdrawal.
The measures were put forward as amendments to a defense authorization bill.
After the Iraq votes were finished, the Senate unanimously passed the underlying bill authorizing nearly 518 billion dollars in defense programs for the fiscal year beginning in October.