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Bush Cautions Against Cutting Funds for Iraq Troops


President Bush is cautioning members of Congress against taking any legislative action that could harm U.S. troops in Iraq. VOA's Dan Robinson reports, the statement in a White House news conference came as lawmakers in the House of Representatives held a second day of debate on a Democratic-sponsored non-binding resolution disapproving of the president's troop buildup in Iraq.

The president was asked about the debate in the House on the Democratic-crafted resolution.

He says he recognizes that all members of Congress are patriotic, and the fact that many Republicans were disappointed in the decision he made to send additional troops to Iraq.

But he says the debate on the resolution, which appears headed for passage on Friday, should not lead to efforts to restrict funds or resources for U.S. troops:

"My hope, however, is that this non-binding resolution doesn't try to turn into a binding policy that prevents our troops from doing that which I have asked them to do," said Mr. Bush.

While he suggests the debate could make some people wonder about U.S. commitment to Iraq, the president also addressed a key argument by Republican House leaders that one cannot support U.S. troops without supporting their mission:

"I think you can be against my decision and support the troops, absolutely," he said. "But the proof will be whether or not you provide them the money necessary to do the mission."

Democrats maintain they will not take actions that will harm U.S. troops in the field.

A clearer picture is emerging of how much support majority Democrats can expect from Republicans.

On one hand, the president's strongest supporters, such as Congresswoman Deborah Pryce, continue to describe Iraq as the central front in the global war on terrorism and urge patience:

"A new plan is being implemented, a new plan with political, economic and military components. Reinforcements are on their way even as we speak," she said.

At the same time, at least 24 Republicans skeptical about the troop surge may vote for the resolution.

Republican Phil English says he has concerns about strains on the U.S. military, and the commitment of the Iraqi government.

"Unfortunately, sectarian violence in Iraq between Sunni and Shia Muslims is increasing, and the failure of Iraqis to reach political settlements and support a unified government greatly contributes to the increased violence," he said.

Republican Ron Paul responds to suggestions from those in his own party that a decision not to support the troop surge means a lack of support for the troops.

"The biggest red herring in this debate is the constant innuendo that those who don't support expanding the war somehow opposing the troops," said Mr. Paul.

The House debate on Iraq is being watched closely in the Senate, where the Democratic majority leader Harry Reid announced he will seek a debate in that chamber on the House Iraq resolution, likely near the end of the month.

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