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Bush Promises to Veto War Spending Bill


President Bush says he will veto an emergency spending bill for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, because opposition Democrats have included timetables for a troop withdrawal. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush says spending bills passed by Democrats in the House and Senate would undercut U.S. troops in the field.

"Each of the Democrats' bills would substitute the judgment of politicians in Washington for that of our generals on the ground. Each bill would impose restrictive conditions on our military commanders," said Mr. Bush. "Each bill would also set an arbitrary deadline for surrender and withdrawal in Iraq, and I believe that would have disastrous consequences for our safety here at home."

In his weekly radio address, the president again vowed to veto those bills, which must now be brought together as a single piece of legislation by negotiators in the House and Senate.

President Bush says a timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq would embolden the enemy. A public opinion poll by Newsweek magazine says a majority of Americans favor setting a deadline for such a withdrawal.

Roughly 57 percent of those surveyed support getting U.S. troops out of Iraq by March of next year. The poll had more bad news for the president with nearly two-thirds of Americans disapproving of his handling of the war.

Both the president and Congress are under pressure to get a war spending bill passed soon. The Defense Department says it needs additional funding for Afghanistan and Iraq by April 15.

President Bush says Americans will hold congressional Democrats responsible for failing to fund troops, because they have sent him a bill they know he will veto.

Retired Marine Andrew Horn gave the Democratic radio address. He says the only person who can keep funds from reaching troops is the president.

"If the president vetoes this bill because he doesn't want to formally demonstrate progress in Iraq, nowhere in our history would there be a more blatant example of a commander-in-chief undermining the troops under his care," he said. "There is absolutely no excuse for the president to withhold funding. And if he does exercise a veto, Congress must side with the troops and over-ride it."

Both spending bills were passed in close votes, making it highly unlikely Democrats could find the two-thirds majority needed to override the president's promised veto.

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