ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf, Luis Martinez and Jon Garcia Report: The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is calling for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to be replaced with a less sectarian leader that can bring about political reconciliation.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., who just returned home from a trip to Iraq, announced he has "crossed the Rubicon," and urged the Iraqi Parliament to hold a no-confidence vote on the Iraqi Prime Minister.
Levin said he saw first-hand that political reconciliation under Maliki's government is not possible because the Iraqi Prime Minister is too beholden to sectarian and religious interests.
The White House reacted to Levin's comments Monday, expressing confidence in the Maliki government.
"Iraqi leaders are meeting now to reach a political accommodation among the various parties," said National Security Council spokesperson Gordon Johndroe. "We believe that Prime Minister Maliki and the Presidency Council will be able to get this important work done, work that is being done on the local level where we see bottom-up reconciliation taking hold."
Earlier Monday, Levin released a joint statement with Sen. John Warner, R-Va., who also went on the Iraq trip, questioning whether the Iraqi government is up to the task of utilizing the "breathing room" created by the President's troop surge plan.
"While we believe that the 'surge' is having measurable results, and has provided a degree of 'breathing space' for Iraqi politicians to make the political compromises which are essential for a political solution in Iraq, we are not optimistic about the prospects for those compromises," read the joint statement. While both Senators have been critical of the troop surge plan in Iraq, they said they saw signs it may be working.
"We have seen indications that the surge of additional brigades to Baghdad and its immediate vicinity and the revitalized counter-insurgency strategy being employed have produced tangible results in making several areas of the capital more secure," Levin and Warner said.
Levin said the progress may lead to a troop reduction later this year to pre-surge levels and even further reductions by the middle of next year.
Levin and Warner note improvement by Iraqi security forces, but not enough improvement for the Iraqi military to act independently. The senators say they heard reports in Iraq of bureaucratic issues within the U.S. government which prohibited Iraqi forces from receiving badly needed equipment.