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WASHINGTON - Sen. Norm Coleman said Friday that he will try to block $1 billion in future Iraq reconstruction funds after a government report this week showed that the Iraqi government will have a $79 billion budget surplus this year.

The Minnesota Republican, who has generally supported the Bush administration's war policies, said that Iraqis have made "great progress" in developing their oil infrastructure and that it is now time for Iraq to foot the bill for its own reconstruction.

"With the Iraqis sitting on a massive budget surplus, we need to return American tax dollars to the U.S. Treasury," he said. "The United States should not be an ATM for the Iraqi government."

Coleman faces a reelection challenge from DFL hopeful Al Franken, who once supported the war but turned against it and has been trying to portray Coleman as a "rubber stamp" for the Bush administration.

Coleman continues to oppose efforts by congressional Democrats to set a firm withdrawal date for U.S. troops or to cut off funding for the war. Franken generally supports those measures.

"For years now, Al Franken has been calling for better oversight over the reconstruction of Iraq," said Franken spokesman Andy Barr, faulting Coleman for opposing a number of Democratic proposals on oversight of defense and reconstruction contracts.

The two campaigns have also clashed on Coleman's role as chairman and ranking Republican on the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which Franken argues did nothing to probe well-publicized abuses by Iraq reconstruction contractors.

Coleman campaign spokesman Luke Friedrich accused Franken of distorting Coleman's record, saying Coleman has supported "aggressive oversight" through the office of the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

A recent report from the office revealed that billions in U.S. reconstruction funding remains unspent.

Coleman and Franken are now both firmly on the record calling for Iraqis to step up and fund more of their own reconstruction for schools, roads, water systems and other infrastructure damaged in the war. A Franken ad addressed the issue in June. As early as January, Coleman called for Iraq to "take over" at least part of its rebuilding with oil revenues.

Coleman said he will introduce legislation when Congress convenes next month rescinding more than $1 billion in reconstruction funds slated to be spent in fiscal 2009, which begins Oct. 1.

The money is part of a $162 billion war spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. Coleman said his measure would not disturb funding for military operations.

Kevin Diaz • 202-408-2753