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Bush Repeats Promise to Veto Iraq Spending


The White House is stepping-up attacks against opposition Democrats who want funding for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq tied to a timetable for a troop withdrawal. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Democrats say they will send the president that legislation in the coming days, despite his promised veto.

President Bush says he will block $124 billion of emergency war spending, because it calls for U.S. troops to start withdrawing from Iraq by October of this year.

"They know I am going to veto a bill containing these provisions, and they know my veto will be sustained," said Mr. Bush. "But instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders chose to further delay funding our troops, and they chose to make a political statement. That's their right, but it is wrong for our troops and it is wrong for our country.

President Bush says accepting a timetable for troop withdrawal would be accepting a policy that directly contradicts the judgment of military commanders. He says the Democratic proposal would undermine U.S. troops and threaten the safety of Americans at home because terrorists would use Iraq to plan further attacks.

Democrats say a timetable for withdrawal will force Iraq's government to take greater responsibility for its own security and will stop the president from continuing what they say is an open-ended commitment in Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said last week that as long as Americans follow the president's path in Iraq, the war is lost.

Vice President Dick Cheney Tuesday called the Senator's comments uninformed and misleading.

"It is cynical to declare that the war is lost, because you believe it gives you political advantage," said Mr. Cheney. "Leaders should make decisions based on the security interest of our country, not on the interest of their political party."

Shortly after the vice president's comments on Capitol Hill, Senator Reid said the Democratic spending bill is good for the troops and good for the country as it provides more funding than the president asked for.

"We do [budget] more money for Iraq and Afghanistan," he noted. "We do [budget] money for military medicine and veterans, and so I am not going to get into a name-calling match with the administration's chief attack dog."

Democrats passed their spending bills in close votes, making it highly unlikely they can find the two-thirds majority needed to override the president's veto.

Almost six months after elections that gave them power in the House and Senate, congressional Democrats say they have an obligation to fix what they see as a misguided Iraq policy.

They say the American people voted for change. But President Bush, in his brief statement on the White House lawn, said they did not vote for failure.

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