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Bush, Democrats Trade Accusations Over Priorities


Democrats and President Bush continue to trade accusations over national spending priorities. The president again threatened to veto key appropriations measures, while the Democratic House speaker accused the president of pursuing failed policies in Iraq, and isolating himself from Americans and members of his own party. More from VOA's Dan Robinson on Capitol Hill.

For the second time in as many days, the president accused Democrats of what he calls cynical attempts to force his hand on domestic spending, and nearly $200 billion he has requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation, he launched one of his harshest attacks yet on Democrats, suggesting that they are making Americans more vulnerable to terrorist attacks by refusing to move forward on a range of fronts, including taking action on war funding:

"Politicians who deny that we are at war are either being disingenuous or naïve. Either way, it is dangerous for our country. We are at war, and we cannot win this war by wishing it away or pretending it does not exist," he said.

Democrats have refused to bring the president's war funding requests to a vote until next year, citing what they describe as his failure to significantly alter his strategy in Iraq.

The president mixed in to his Thursday address complaints about Senate Democrat's delay in bringing the nomination of his choice for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, to a vote, and another call for Congress to approve changes to warrant-free electronic surveillance against suspected terrorists.

Republicans have joined the president in labeling Democrats irresponsible because they have not been able to pass separate measures and send them to the president.

Both sides continue to accuse each other of blocking bipartisan compromise. Senate Republican whip Trent Lott spoke earlier in the week. "We are now talking about more political gamesmanship instead of sitting down and working out agreements on these appropriations bills that meet budget requirements that the president has laid down," he said.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi fired back at the president, describing him as detached from the political reality in the country, and in Congress. "We are standing [working] from a position of great confidence and great bipartisanship on these fights that we are making. The president is not attuned to the majority of the country, and the majority of the Congress," he said.

Democrats also used a rally they staged outside the U.S. Capitol to draw attention to what they view as their major accomplishments since winning control of Congress in the 2006 mid-term election.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer heaped blame on President Bush and Republicans for stalling some legislative work. "This do something, new direction Congress has been blocked far too often by a do nothing president and his Republican congressional accomplices," he said.

At the same time, Hoyer and Pelosi point to Republican votes supporting some successful Democratic legislative objectives this year as proof that President Bush's support on Capitol Hill among Republicans has declined.

In the face of presidential veto threats, House Democratic appropriations chairman David Obey changed course from an initial plan to put a fiscal 2008 defense appropriations bill into a legislative package containing two other measures on health and education, and spending for military veterans.

However, Republicans continued to object to the remaining package, while the president maintained his threat to veto any combined measures reaching his desk.