Bush seeks fast action on wartime funding bill he can support
The president has threatened to veto the supplemental if it sets deadlines for troop withdrawal.
President Bush on Tuesday demanded swift action from Congress on a war supplemental bill he can support, challenging Democrats even as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said a veto would delay money for U.S. troops and demonstrate the president's refusal to work with Congress.
Bush, speaking at a Rose Garden news conference, said failure to pass an acceptable bill by mid-May could result in extended tours for frontline soldiers.
"The bottom line is this: Congress's failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines, and others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to," Bush said.
The president has threatened to veto the supplemental if it sets deadlines for troop withdrawals and includes funding for unrelated issues. Bush acknowledged, though, that Congress was "exercising its legitimate authority," saying "I just disagree with their decisions."
The Democrats, though, sought to put the onus to Bush. "Democrats will send President Bush a bill that gives our troops the resources they need and a strategy in Iraq worthy of their sacrifices," Reid said in a statement.
Hoyer said, "It is increasingly clear that, when it comes to the war in Iraq, President Bush is out of touch with the views of the American people, who are demanding a charge in direction and a policy that is designed to succeed." It is not clear when Bush will receive the supplemental. A House-Senate compromise must be worked out after the House returns from recess April 16. Republican leaders continued to say they can sustain a Bush veto, with 154 House Republicans signing a letter to Bush last week making the pledge.
"Our letter makes it clear that Democrats will have a serious decision to make when they return from their break: Fully-fund American troops without strings and unrelated spending attached, or continue a futile political exercise at the troops' expense," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after Bush's speech.
On other issues, Bush said he will seek a united front to oppose the Democratic budget. "We'll work together, most importantly, on budget, to make sure this budget gets balanced without raising taxes," Bush said.