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Bush Criticizes Congress for Attorneys Controversy, Iraq Spending Bill


President Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to discuss two major disagreements between his Republican administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress. One is about a congressional demand for testimony under oath from White House aides in connection with the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. The other deals with a bill approved by the House of Representatives that establishes a timetable for removing troops from Iraq. VOA's Marissa Melton reports from Washington.

Mr. Bush expressed support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Some lawmakers this week called for the resignation of the nation's top legal official for his role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Mr. Bush said he regrets that the issue has become what he called "a public spectacle." He urged members of Congress to drop their demand that Gonzales and other top Bush aides testify under oath. He called on Democrats in Congress to put partisan politics aside and agree to interview the White House officials in private.

"Members of Congress now face a choice: whether they will waste time and provoke an unnecessary confrontation, or whether they will join us in working to do the people's business," said Mr. Bush.

The president has the right to fire U.S. attorneys, but critics say the firings were politically motivated and that senior Justice Department officials misled members of Congress about the reasons for the dismissals.

Mr. Bush also criticized a vote in the House of Representatives Friday for approving an Iraq spending bill that sets a timetable for bringing all U.S. combat troops home from Iraq. The bill includes $124 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus more than $20 billion for domestic programs.

Mr. Bush says a timetable would weaken the U.S. effort in Iraq, and he repeated his promise to veto the bill if it passes the Senate.

"By choosing to make a political statement and passing a bill they know will never become law, the Democrats in Congress have only delayed the delivery of the vital funds and resources our troops need," he added.

He said Congress needs to send him an Iraq funding bill that provides funds without restrictions and unnecessary spending measures.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are defending the bill. New Hampshire Representative Paul Hodes said on U.S. radio Saturday that the measure would bring about necessary change.

"With our vote this week, we're helping our troops, protecting our veterans, and fighting to end the waste, fraud and abuse," he said. "After four years of a failed policy, Democrats are insisting on a new direction in Iraq and a real plan that holds the Iraqi people accountable for their own country."

The Senate may vote as early as next week on its own version of the war funding bill and a timetable for withdrawing troops. The House and Senate bills would then need to be reconciled. But neither version is believed to have enough votes to override a presidential veto.