President Bush Vetoes War-Funding Bill
By William Branigin and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 1, 2007; 6:10 PM
President Bush today vetoed a $124 billion emergency
war-funding bill that contains a timetable for the
withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, setting up a
confrontation with the Democratic-controlled Congress
over his Iraq war policy.
Acting on the fourth anniversary of his so-called
"Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the aircraft
carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, Bush carried out his veto
threat shortly after returning to the White House from
a visit to Florida, where he delivered a speech at the
U.S. Central Command.
The bill, a supplemental appropriation for the wars in
Iraq and Afghanistan this year, arrived at the White
House around 4 p.m. EDT, and Bush made a statement to
the nation at 6:10 p.m. to explain his veto -- only
the second of his presidency.
Shortly after 3 p.m., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid
(D-Nev.) formally sent the bill on its way, making a
final appeal to Bush to drop his objections and sign
"This legislation respects the wishes of the American
people to end the Iraq war," Pelosi said in a Capitol
Hill ceremony with Reid seated beside her. "I urge the
president to sign the Global War on Terror
Supplemental so that we can refocus on fighting
Reid said Bush has "put our troops in the middle of a
civil war" and that "a change of course is needed."
Noting that April was the deadliest month for U.S.
forces in Iraq so far this year and one of the
deadliest in the four-year war, he said the bill
"redeploys our troops out of an intractable civil war"
and ensures that U.S. forces are "combat ready."
He added, "A veto means denying our troops the
resources and the strategy that they need."
Bush had warned congressional Democrats for weeks that
he would reject a bill that includes a timetable for
the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and billions
of dollars in spending on items unrelated to the war.
But the bill passed the Democratic-controlled House
and Senate last week, and Democrats said it reflects
the desire of most Americans to end an unpopular war.
The White House announced that Bush will meet with
congressional leaders from both parties tomorrow
afternoon in an effort to resolve differences over the
war-funding bill. So far, Bush has given no indication
that he intends to compromise on his demand for a
"clean bill" with no withdrawal timetable.
In Congress today, meanwhile, Republican leaders
adopted a strikingly different tone behind the public
partisan jockeying, saying some agreement will have to
be reached with Democrats and reached quickly. Senate
Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said neither party
can go into talks with absolute demands for what can
and cannot be in the next bill.
"It's time to stop laying down these guidelines,
saying it's got to be this, it's got to be that," Lott
He suggested Republicans will have to accept some of
the non-military spending that they have been deriding
for weeks as "pork." And Bush will have to accept
benchmarks for the Iraqi government that are tied to
consequences, should they not be achieved. He
suggested those consequences could be linked to
non-military reconstruction aid, taking up a proposal
floated last week by House Minority Whip Roy Blunt
(R-Mo.). Blunt reiterated his support for benchmarks,
saying any punishment for not meeting them should be a
focal point of negotiations in the coming days.
"Some kind of compromise has to be worked out between
the administration and the Democrats," said Sen.
George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio). "That's how it's done.
Everybody holds their nose, and maybe a couple of
times vomits, but you get it done."
In a speech today at the U.S. Central Command in
Tampa, Fla., Bush made no reference to the bill, but
he defended his stewardship of the war on terrorism
and asserted that his troop-surge strategy in Iraq is
showing signs of success.
Addressing a "coalition conference" attended by about
160 representatives of various countries allied with
the United States, Bush said "there is only one
effective response" against al-Qaeda and other
terrorist enemies: "we must go on the offense, stay on
the offense and take the fight to them."
He also listed what he described as a string of
intelligence successes by the United States and its
allies that have "helped thwart many attacks." And he
repeated justifications from previous speeches for
invading Iraq in March 2003 and ordering about 30,000
reinforcements into the country earlier this year to
quell rampant sectarian violence in Baghdad and
insurgent activity in western Iraq.
Pulling back from Baghdad would have "risked turning
Iraq into a cauldron of chaos," Bush said. "Our enemy
-- the enemies of freedom -- love chaos. Out of that
chaos they could find new safe havens."
While the Baghdad security plan is in its "early"
stages, he said, "we are seeing some signs that give
us hope." He cited the capture of "a number of key
terrorist leaders," the disruption of a car-bomb
network and "a decline in sectarian violence in some
areas of the capital."
Congressional Democrats, however, say Bush's views are
increasingly divorced from reality in Iraq.
"If the president wonders why the American people have
lost patience, it is because the news out of Iraq
grows worse by the day," said Reid, who has accused
Bush of being "in denial" about the war.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), chairman of the House
Democratic Caucus, said in a statement that in the
four years since Bush made his speech on the deck of
the Abraham Lincoln, "America has lost thousands of
young lives and spent hundreds of billions of dollars.
Now the president wants more -- more troops, more
time, more money -- the status quo plus."
Saying that Bush squarely bears "the blame for our
misadventure in Iraq," Emanuel declared, "The
President who thought the war ended four years ago has
not earned and will not receive from this Congress
another blank check for staying the course in Iraq."
In a news briefing on board Air Force One en route to
Florida, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino bristled
when asked about Bush's veto of a bill that Democrats
are sending him on the fourth anniversary of a speech
in which he prematurely declared an end to major
"Even though the Democrats won't say so on the record,
it is a trumped-up political stunt that is the height
of cynicism, and it's very disturbing to think that
they possibly held up this money for the troops and
the troops' families and the resources they need to
try some PR stunt on this day," Perino said.
The speech four years ago "has been widely
misconstrued, and I encourage people to go back and
read it," she said. "The president did say we had a
long and difficult road ahead of us. We're moving from
a dictatorship to democracy."
Asked if Bush regrets the "mission accomplished
speech," Perino said, "Look, I've never heard him
describe it that way, absolutely not. Let me just
remind everybody . . . the President never said
'mission accomplished.' I realize that the banner said
'mission accomplished.' That was specific to the
mission of that ship. They were supposed to be
deployed for six months. They were deployed well
beyond that. I think they'd gone to both Iraq and
Afghanistan. And that's what that banner was referring
After arriving on the carrier deck wearing a flight
suit and carrying a helmet, Bush stood below a huge
banner saying "Mission Accomplished" and addressed the
crew. "My fellow Americans, major combat operations in
Iraq have ended," he announced. "In the battle of
Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."