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President Bush Vetoes War-Funding Bill

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/01/AR2007050100968.html?referrer=email President Bush Vetoes War-Funding Bill By William Branigin
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2007

      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
      combat operations.

      "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."
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