WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress lined up behind President Bush's decision to mount a ground war to liberate Kuwait, but differences emerged over what should become of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the occupation of his country.
"The president has commenced the ground war. Our troops are under fire. I give my full support to them and the president," said Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J.
"I think all of us wanted the air attack to continue" until it reached its "maximum effect," said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th, who heads the Democratic Caucus. "It would appear . . . that has been accomplished."
With the apparent early successes of the allied invasion, Maryland lawmakers and their colleagues were looking past the liberation of Kuwait toward the future of Mr. Hussein.
Maryland lawmakers said the Iraqi leader should be a defendant in a war crimes trial. But some also argued he should be removed from power.
"I think we should continue with the economic and arms embargo until he's out of power," said Representative Constance A. Morella, R-Md.-8th.
"I would have put him out a long time ago. I'd [have] nuked him," said Representative Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md.-2nd. "If Saddam survives, then there are going to be a lot of people very angry," particularly relatives of troops killed in the Persian Gulf.
But Representative Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, cautioned against an overthrow of Mr. Hussein. "I do not think it's the time to begin expanding the objectives of the United States," he said.
"I don't think that should be one of our objectives, per se," agreed Representative Tom McMillen, D-Md.-4th. He did, however, back a war crimes trial for the Iraqi leader.
Mr. Hoyer said he thought Mr. Hussein "should be removed by his own people." If the Iraqi president remained in control, Mr. Hoyer said, "I think it's going to make it difficult for the stability of the region."
"I think they're going to have to go into Iraq" in order to "humiliate" the Iraqi leader, said Representative Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-Md.-1st. "I think the international community is going to have to occupy that country."
But House Speaker Tom Foley, D-Wash., backed away from such a move.
"I don't think our goal is to occupy Iraq," he said in a television interview.
But some Democrats disagreed. Mr. McMillen said the "U.S. may occupy some parts of Iraq," which could be used as "leverage" for the Iraqi people to change their government.