President Bush wants opposition legislators to approve his choice for the nation's next top law enforcement official. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Democrats say the president is not spending enough to care for military veterans.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a Tuesday vote for the president's choice to be America's next Attorney General, retired federal judge Michael Mukasey.
But some Democrats on that committee say they will vote against him because of concern about his testimony regarding an interrogation technique that could be considered torture.
That technique, known as waterboarding, simulates drowning. Mukasey told the committee that he personally considers waterboarding repugnant but could not say whether it constitutes torture because he has not been briefed on classified information as he is still a private citizen.
In his weekly radio address, President Bush says Mukasey does not want interrogators in the field to take an uninformed opinion he has given at a confirmation hearing as meaning that they could be in legal jeopardy.
"Congressional leaders should not make Judge Mukasey's confirmation dependent on his willingness to make a public judgment about a classified program he has not been briefed on," he said. "If the Senate Judiciary Committee were to block Judge Mukasey on these grounds, it would set a new standard for confirmation that could not be met by any responsible nominee for Attorney General. And that would guarantee that America would have no confirmed Attorney General during this time of war."
The president is urging the Judiciary Committee to approve Mukasey as he says the Attorney General has critical responsibilities for protecting the nation from terrorist attack.
In the Democratic radio address, Senator Patty Murray says the president need not remind Americans that the nation is still at war.
"In fact, if it were up to us, we would already be bringing an end to the war that this president started," she said.
Murray says the president is wrong to threaten to veto spending on veterans benefits because the Democratic bill exceeds his budget request.
"The priorities that we fund are ones that he has neglected for far too long," she added. "It is wrong to ignore these needs and neglect our veterans. Our troops have sacrificed so much. They deserve better than to have a president block this bill to make a political point."
Murray says Democrats will send a bill to the president in the coming week that provides for thousands of new Veterans' Administration case workers, better prosthetics for troops who have lost limbs in battle, and increased spending on treatment of post-traumatic stress.