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Bush Calls on Lawmakers to Pass Military Funding Bill


President Bush wants Congress to approve the annual military budget before it leaves on August recess. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Mr. Bush says it is too soon to judge the success of his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Iraq.

President Bush says there have been frustrating setbacks and important successes in Iraq. After a meeting with military organizations supporting the war, the president again called on Congress and the American people to give more time to his strategy for sending more troops.

"Our nation deserves a serious debate about Iraq, because the outcome of this conflict will have enormous consequences for our country," the president said. "Failure in Iraq would allow terrorists to operate from a safe haven with access to the world's third-largest oil reserves."

The president says failure would increase the probability that U.S. troops would have to return to Iraq at some later date to fight a more dangerous enemy. Failure in Iraq would send what Mr. Bush calls an unmistakable message to enemies that America can be bullied into retreat.

"America's involvement in Iraq does not have to end this way. A free and stable Iraq is still in reach. It has the potential to transform the Middle East and bring us closer to the day when radical regimes are replaced by peaceful allies," he said.

The president wants more time to show that his strategy is working. A public opinion poll this week by CBS News and the New York Times says 74 percent of Americans believe the war is going badly.

A poll by Newsweek magazine last week says nearly two thirds of Americans believe the President's policy of sending more troops to Iraq is a failure. Despite that and the growing discontent within the president's own political party, White House officials appear confident that they have at least until September to change opinions about the war.

That is when the administration next reports to Congress on the progress of that fight.

President Bush wants legislators to approve the annual military budget before their August recess, saying even those who oppose the war should back a pay raise for soldiers fighting it.

"It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field, and give them everything they need to succeed," the president said.

Opposition Democrats this week staged an all-night debate on the war but failed to come up with enough votes to pass a resolution calling on the president to get combat forces out of Iraq by April of next year.

President Bush says politicizing the conflict in Iraq threatens the larger needs of the military.

"It's a comprehensive spending request that Congress has failed to act on," Mr. Bush said. "Instead, the Democratic leaders chose to have a political debate on a precipitous withdrawal of our troops from Iraq."

The president says withdrawing troops is a military not a political decision.

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