The new language was an effort to forge a quick agreement on a war resolution that Congress will begin debating next week and will probably approve within the next two weeks.
"There are a number of issues that remain ones that are unresolved, as far as we're concerned," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said after he and his fellow Democrats had reviewed the draft.
Tempers were still raw on Capitol Hill from Daschle's angry speech Wednesday in which he accused Bush and his administration of politicizing the debates on Iraq and the proposed Homeland Security Department by questioning Democrats' commitment to national security.
Bush appeared to go out of his way yesterday, in public and in private, to calm tempers.
"The security of our country is the commitment of both political parties," he said after a meeting with House Republicans and Democrats, most of whom support giving Bush broad authority to act against Saddam Hussein. Further debate, Bush vowed, "will be conducted with all civility" and "in a manner that will make Americans proud."
In private, aides to key Democrats were blunt in their assessments of the new White House proposal. They said many Democrats do not regard it as a serious effort to give the United Nations and its weapons inspectors time to work before resorting to an invasion and thus would not garner broad support in Congress.
Republicans, though, all but declared the proposal their final offer to Democrats, suggesting that they were not open to modifications.
"There would be no sentiment for any further changes at this point," Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, said after members of his party had looked over the modified Bush proposal.
Bush said yesterday that Hussein's regime "has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations." On Wednesday he said, "The danger is that al-Qaida becomes an extension of Saddam's madness and his hatred and his capacity to extend weapons of mass destruction around the world."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that there is "very reliable reporting of senior level contacts going back a decade" between Iraq and al-Qaida "and of possible chemical and biological agent training."
The United States, Rumsfeld said, has evidence that senior al-Qaida operatives - though not Osama bin Laden - have been in Baghdad "in recent periods."
Administration officials also pressed their case for urgency at the United Nations. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told Congress that the United States has reached an agreement with Britain on language for a U.N. resolution demanding that Iraq comply with previous resolutions it has ignored or face consequences.
Democrats in the House and Senate - many of whom are deeply opposed to unilateral action against Hussein - are struggling to blend their disparate views on Iraq into one alternative resolution that would give their party a chance to vote yes for use of force.
But the administration's more limited proposal gave Republicans grounds to suggest that Democrats were being unreasonable in holding out.
"I think we have reached a point where there is good language, and we should go forward with it," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican.