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Bush Urges Congress to Approve War Funding

U.S. President George Bush wants $178 billion more in military spending to help pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, opposition Democrats are adding domestic spending to that bill, and Mr. Bush says he will veto it if those programs are not removed.

President Bush says more money is urgently needed for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Each day, the men and women of our Armed Forces risk their lives to make sure their fellow citizens are safer," he said. "They serve with courage and honor. They've earned the respect of all Americans. And they deserve the full support of Congress. I often hear members of Congress say they oppose the war, but still support the troops. Now they have a chance to prove it."

If lawmakers do not act, President Bush says critical accounts at the Department of Defense will soon run dry. In his weekly radio address, he warns that civilian employees may face temporary layoffs next month. After July, Mr. Bush says the Pentagon will no longer be able to pay U.S. troops, including those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Lawmakers have had the president's request for additional military funding for 16 months. Opposition Democrats have attached unrelated domestic spending to the bill, taking it beyond the president's $178 billion request. Mr. Bush says he will veto the measure if it exceeds what he says are his reasonable and responsible funding levels.

In the Democratic radio address, South Carolina Congressman John Spratt says a spending blueprint for the next fiscal year restores money the president wants to cut from education and health care.

Spratt, who is chairman of the House Budget Committee, criticized the president for turning a $236 billion surplus into record deficits.

"Faced with these grim facts, what does the president's budget for next year propose? More of the same and a mountain of debt. The budget the Democrats passed this week charts a new course. It restrains spending and sticks to the rule of pay-as-you-go but supports investments in energy, education, and infrastructure," he said.

Spratt says the Democrats' $3 trillion-plan will balance the federal budget by 2012. But it assumes no additional spending for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after next year and allows many of the president's record tax cuts to expire.

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