Bush Repeats Call for War Funding Bill Without Conditions

President Bush meets with opposition leaders who control Congress Wednesday over differences blocking additional funding for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Democrats want a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

President Bush says he will veto legislation passed by Democrats in the House and Senate because he says it undercuts American troops.

"They passed bills that would impose restrictions on our military commanders and set an arbitrary date for withdrawal from Iraq, giving our enemies the victory they desperately want," he said.

Both votes were close, making it highly unlikely Democrats will find the two-thirds majority needed to override the promised veto.

President Bush says Democrats are trying to score political points, so they should send him the bill quickly so he can veto it and get legislators back to working on a new bill without timetables for troop withdrawals.

Democrats say it is President Bush who is politicizing the war by accusing them of under funding troops when their legislation approves all the money he is asking for. Democrats say that when voters elected Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate last year, it was a mandate to push for a new direction in Iraq.

President Bush says he is changing course with a surge of additional U.S. troops, but that the strategy needs time to work. The Bush administration broadened its campaign for additional funding this past week with Washington appearances by both the Iraqi Ambassador and the Iraqi government spokesman.

White House officials say Wednesday's meeting with Congressional Democrats is not a negotiation because the president will never accept a timetable for troop withdrawal.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says Democrats welcome a discussion with the president on Iraq that has no preconditions. But in a written statement, Hoyer said Democrats will not rubber-stamp what he calls the president's "failing, stay-the-course strategy" in Iraq.

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