President George W. Bush met privately with House Republicans on Friday and agreed to an alternative resolution to set “benchmarks” for progress in his plan to send more troops to Iraq, party officials said.
Conferring with lawmakers from his party, which lost control of the House of Representatives last November, Bush was confronted with their plan to hold him accountable for the revised strategy, which has been widely criticized by Democrats and some Republicans.
“He deferred to the leadership,” Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia said after a closed-door, question-and-answer session with Bush, who has denounced other congressional efforts to oppose his plan to send 21,500 more troops into Iraq.
“He said, ‘I have faith in the leaders to craft a proposal, because I know in their hearts they want this country to succeed,”‘ said Cantor, House Republican chief deputy whip.
Bush has opposed earlier proposed congressional resolutions against an increase in troops, but facing broad resistance in Congress he appeared willing to go along with this one, the officials said.
During the hour-long meeting, they said Bush faced plenty of questions and concerns from those gathered for a two-day meeting on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
He reiterated his belief the United States needed to stay on the offensive, despite public uneasiness with the war.
During a brief part of the session open to reporters, Bush said, “Most people understand the consequences of failure.
“If failure is not an option, then it’s up to the president to come up with a plan that is more likely to succeed.”
While many of the president’s lines drew applause, lawmakers sat in silence after he said that.
The White House has charged that proposed bipartisan Senate resolutions opposing Bush’s plan could undermine the war effort.
The House Republican resolution, which may be offered as early as next week, calls for the creation of military, political and social “benchmarks” to monitor the success of an increase in U.S. troops, and hold Bush and Iraqi government accountable.
It also calls for creation of a bipartisan congressional panel to monitor implementation of the benchmarks.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic leader of the House, opposes the proposal.
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