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Gallegly Praises Bipartisan Support for Mideast Policy

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Following a congressional briefing on the Middle East crisis by President Bush, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) said he was encouraged by the bipartisan support expressed for the Administration’s policy, even though no timetable was cited for resolving the conflict.

“The President thanked the members of Congress for ending partisanship at the water’s edge,” Gallegly said after the one-hour session with about 150 lawmakers. “We are united.”

Gallegly, who has been critical at times of the House’s Democratic majority, said he was heartened that Democrats such as House Speaker Thomas S. Foley of Washington and Sen. Howard M. Metzenbaum of Ohio applauded Bush’s tough stance toward Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

“In a time of true crisis, there is a unity in the House that you seldom see,” said Gallegly, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “It’s very refreshing and it gives you a great deal of confidence in our form of government.”

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Bush and top aides spoke to the foreign affairs panel, its Senate counterpart, the House and Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, and legislative leaders. The members returned to the capital from their summer break for the briefing.

Despite the overall supportive tone, some lawmakers expressed concerns about the need for other industrial nations to share more of the costly burden of protecting Saudi Arabia and forcing Iraq to retreat from Kuwait. The Pentagon on Tuesday revised its cost estimate of the U. S. Gulf buildup from $1.2 billion to $2.5 billion by the end of September.

At the same time, the U. S. commitment remains open-ended. “There was no speculation on a timetable for resolution,” Gallegly said.

The two-term Republican said his constituents have expressed virtually unanimous support for Bush’s policy. The only exceptions, he said, were a few callers who have suggested that the United States “take a more aggressive military posture than some of us are ready to.”

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