Senate nearing Iraq resolution

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   A resolution authorizing the use of force by the United States against Iraq could be nearing approval in the Senate, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Frist.
   Frist spoke of the resolution's movement in the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives during conference call on Wednesday. He felt momentum was growing for passage of the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.
   "It is not a partisan issue in any way," said Frist. "I do believe we have some agreement, broadly, in the next 24 to 48 hours, and there will be broad support on both sides of the aisle in giving him the appropriate tools to combat the regime of Saddam Hussein."
   President Bush appeared with leaders from the U.S. House of Representatives in the rose garden Wednesday morning touting a compromise reached on the resolution. Frist said he had not seen the resolution's wording in the House of Representatives as of Wednesday afternoon.
   The full U.S. Senate had not addressed the Iraq resolution issue completely, said Frist.
   "Until Sen. (Tom) Daschle (D-S.D.) begins to work with the President, we are not likely to have that settled," he said.
   In his address, the President said the Iraqi regime, "... has stockpiled biological and chemical weapons. It is rebuilding the facilities used to make those weapons."
   Frist said Iraq's stockpile of biological weapons included anthrax and botulism as well as chemical weapons. He further stated he believes Hussein would use biological weapons as "weapons of mass destruction" in any military action.
   "Hussein has personally used chemical weapons on his own people and killed thousands in so doing," said Frist.
   Given the potential of biological and chemical attacks, Frist said it was critical the nation have vaccines available to respond in addition to having adequate supplies of child vaccines.
   He pointed to a report released by the Government Accounting Office that reported only four manufacturers that produce vaccines for children -- only two of which were American companies.
   The Centers for Disease Control issued a plan and guidelines involving smallpox vaccinations for U.S. citizens.
   Smallpox was declared globally eradicated in 1980. However, the virus has returned to the national spotlight as a potential use in bioterrorism.
   The CDC reports that risks are involved in receiving the smallpox vaccine.
   For example, one person in 10,000 who receives the vaccine will have serious side effects that require a doctor's care, according to the Centers. If the vaccine were to be given to everyone in the United States, the Centers estimated that 350 to 500 people would die from the vaccine -- approximately one or two deaths for each million doses of smallpox vaccine administered.
   Frist said the government had yet to put forth a policy on what happens if a smallpox outbreak occurs.
   "All American families should be allowed to make an informed choice on whether to receive the smallpox vaccine," said Frist. "We must educate them now about the risks of the vaccine."