WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday he hoped that intensive work on drafting a resolution for the U.N. Security Council could begin by the end of this week.
He was optimistic about a vote by the Security Council within a few weeks.
The measure should give the Iraqi president "a matter of weeks" to comply with long-standing U.N. resolutions on his weapons program, Powell said.
He met with council members last week to win support for a tough resolution and planned to return to New York on Monday to resume the effort.
The Bush administration also insisted Sunday that the U.S. military can simultaneously fight terrorism and confront Iraq, as White House officials said Congress and the United Nations must act quickly to show resolve against Saddam Hussein.
Members of Congress, however, were split on whether it was wise to act within four weeks on an undefined resolution about Iraq, as Powell called for. There were signs of a possible stalemate before the midterm congressional elections in November.
"We don't know what this administration wants to do," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said on ABC's This Week. He said President Bush had yet to ask for a resolution on Iraq. But Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said: "Obviously, it is up to the Congress to offer resolutions, not to the administration."
Several leading lawmakers made clear they will consider such resolutions on their own timetable.
Daschle was noncommittal on whether Congress could pass such a resolution before Election Day, saying only that it was possible. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said it would help Bush if Congress acted before its planned mid-October recess.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said he agreed with that timetable, but added that the resolution should not necessarily authorize force against Iraq.
He said on CBS' Face the Nation that he preferred "something that could get 100-to-nothing vote, something that says to the United Nations, look, we are really serious about this and we're all behind the effort to try to seek a consensus on dealing with Saddam Hussein."
Powell and Rice declined to answer other specific questions about what should be in the resolution. But both said that new resolutions would not permit any negotiations with Saddam.
"The time for Iraq to respond was years ago," Powell said.
Some lawmakers, including Daschle, D-S.D., have questioned whether war with Iraq would undermine the hunt for Al Qaeda terrorists behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We fully believe that the United States is capable of conducing the war on terrorism and dealing with other threats," Rice said on ABC. "We don't believe there are limits on what we can do in the war on terrorism and dealing with a major threat of weapons of mass destruction."
But Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., said on Fox News Sunday that Saddam is "not one of the primary threats to the United States."
Pointing to the arrests of five men who allegedly belonged to a terror cell near Buffalo, N.Y., Graham said, "What worries me is that I think the war on terrorism has bogged down."
"Why were those five people arrested in Buffalo? Primarily because we had evidence that they had been at an Al Qaeda training camp in 2001," said Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "Those camps, in my judgment, are the real threat to the United States security, and that's what I think our priority ought to be, in terms of protecting the people America, is taking them out."
Graham also said Bush should warn Iran, just as he has warned Iraq, against helping terrorists.
He echoed administration fears that Iran is tied to the terror group Hezbollah -- "the A Team of international terrorism," Graham said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.