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Bush Presses Congress to Pass Defense Funding, Confirm Attorney General Nominee

President Bush wants the opposition-led Congress to pass his request for military spending and approve his choice for attorney general, the nation's top law enforcement official. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, some Democrats say they will vote against the nominee because of concerns about interrogation techniques that might constitute torture.

President Bush says Congress should move quickly to approve an additional $46 billion worth of funding for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as other national security needs.

"The supplemental is critical for our troops, and Congress should not go home for the holidays while our men and women in uniform are waiting for the funds they need," he said.

In a speech at a conservative policy research group, the president said he knows some people accuse him of trying to scare Americans by talking about terrorism. But he says his opponents can not win the war by wishing it away.

Mr. Bush says part of that fight requires a strong attorney general, and he is frustrated that his nominee for that post has not been approved after more than 40 days.

Some Democrats say they will vote against Judge Michael Mukasey because of testimony concerning an interrogation technique that simulates drowning and is known as waterboarding.

Mukasey says the practice is "repugnant" but he said he does not know whether it violates U.S. laws against torture.

President Bush says the retired federal judge has not been briefed on interrogation techniques because he is currently a private citizen and the material is classified.

"It is wrong for Congressional leaders to make Judge Mukasey's confirmation dependent on his willingness to go on the record about the details of a classified program he has not been briefed on," he said.

Mr. Bush says that would set a new standard for confirmation that could not be met by any responsible nominee and would leave the nation without an attorney general, at a time of war.

"Many of us felt that the United States, which would roundly and universally condemn the waterboarding of an American held by any other country, many of us had felt that the attorney general nominee should do the same thing," said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

White House officials say they are confident Mukasey can win confirmation if the vote is put to the full Senate. But he must first clear the Judiciary Committee, which has scheduled a vote for Tuesday.