The US Senate has rejected a plan proposed by the Democratic majority to withdraw American combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.
The measure failed Thursday on a vote of 50-to-48, falling 12 short of the 60 votes needed to pass. The White House had threatened to veto any measure that includes a deadline for withdrawing US troops from Iraq.
Earlier, a key committee in the US House of Representatives approved a 124 billion-dollar funding bill that would set a deadline for withdrawing US troops from Iraq.
The House Appropriations Committee voted 36-to-28 Thursday to send the bill to the House floor. Included in the measure is a provision calling for US troops to leave Iraq by September 2008.
The Democratic panel chairman David Obey of Wisconsin said the legislation sends a message to politicians in Iraq. He said it places pressure on Iraqis to take responsibility for their own country.
Democrats are split between liberals who are demanding a timetable for ending US involvement in Iraq, and more conservative members who think lawmakers should not try to manage the course of war.