Washington A liberal Democrat and potential White House contender is proposing censuring President Bush for authorizing domestic eavesdropping, saying the White House misled Americans about its legality.
"The president has broken the law and, in some way, he must be held accountable," Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., told The Associated Press in an interview.
A censure resolution, which simply would scold the president, has been used just once in U.S. history - against Andrew Jackson in 1834.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., called the proposal "a crazy political move" that would weaken the U.S. during wartime.
The five-page resolution to be introduced today contends that Bush violated the law when, on his own, he set up the eavesdropping program within the National Security Agency in the months following 9-11.
Bush claims that his authority as commander in chief as well as a September 2001 congressional authorization to use force in the fight against terrorism gave him the power to authorize the surveillance.
The White House had no immediate response on Sunday.
"Congress has to reassert our system of government, and the cleanest and the most efficient way to do that is to censure the president," Feingold said.
The Wisconsin Democrat, considered a presidential contender for 2008, said he had not discussed censure with other senators but that, based on criticism leveled at Bush by both Democrats and Republicans, the resolution makes sense.
A longtime critic of the administration, Feingold was the first senator to urge a withdrawal timetable for U.S. troops in Iraq and was the only senator to vote in 2001 against the USA Patriot Act.
Jackson was censured by the Senate in 1834 after he removed the nation's money from a private bank in defiance of the Whig Party, which controlled the Senate.