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Bush veto puts pressure on Democrats

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May 2, 2007

050107bush3_0.jpgPresident Bush’s veto of an Iraq war spending bill that set timelines for U.S. troop withdrawals puts new pressure on Democrats in Congress to craft a compromise even as their caucus grows more fractious on the topic.

The party’s most liberal members, especially in the House, say they will vote against money for continuing the war if there’s no binding language on troop drawdowns. Bush and almost all congressional Republicans continue to insist on a spending bill with no strings attached on troop movements.

Bush on Tuesday rejected legislation pushed by Democratic leaders that would require the first U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later.

“This is a prescription for chaos and confusion and we must not impose it on our troops,” Bush said in a nationally broadcast statement from the White House. “It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing.”

The standoff gives Republicans leverage, because even with the liberals’ votes, Democrats don’t have enough support to override Bush’s veto. It will force Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to seek more Republican help in drafting a new bill that Bush might accept, her allies and opponents say.

“I think the Democrats are in a box,” Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re pretty resolute on our side. We are not going to tie this funding to any type of withdrawal deadline or any type of redeployment deadline.”

Some Democrats believe the GOP solidarity will crack over time, noting that polls show heavy public support for a withdrawal plan.

Lawmakers in both parties agree that a workable compromise is a huge challenge in the coming days or weeks. Because Democrats control the House and Senate, the pressure is mainly on them to craft a bill that Bush will sign, and thus avoid accusations that they failed to finance troops in a time of war.

Many Democrats say a new spending bill must include so-called benchmarks for progress in Iraq that, if not met, would trigger movements of U.S. troops out of the country or perhaps to non-urban areas that see little sectarian violence. A new spending bill “has got to be tied to redeployment,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., the House’s fourth-ranking Democratic leader.

Emanuel conceded, however, that Democrats have yet to figure out where they will find the votes.

The situation frustrates Democrats, who won control of the House and Senate in an election that largely focused on Iraq.

Moreover, Democrats showed impressive solidarity in passing the bill that Bush vetoed Tuesday, losing only 14 House Democrats while holding 216. Top Democrats say they have no hope of replicating that showing once they begin making even modest concessions in response to Bush’s veto.

That makes them dependent on Republican help to some degree — perhaps a lot. As long as most GOP lawmakers stick with the president, “the question is how much policy and change we can push in Iraq,” Emanuel said.

In his veto statement Tuesday, Bush again rejected the notion of an “artificial deadline” for troop withdrawals. But he added, “I’m confident that with good will on both sides we can agree on a bill that gets our troops the money and flexibility they need, as soon as possible.”

Pelosi, who was to join Republican and Democratic leaders from both houses in a meeting with Bush on Wednesday, told reporters after Bush’s remarks: “The president wants a blank check. The Congress is not going to give it to him.”

Democrats will work with the White House, she said, “but there is great distance between us right now.”

Numerous possible compromises are being floated on Capitol Hill, all involving some combination of benchmarks. Some would require Bush to certify monthly that the Iraqi government is fully cooperating with U.S. efforts in several areas, such as giving troops the authority to pursue extremists. Others would require an Iraqi-run program to disarm militias and a plan to distribute oil revenues fairly.

The key impasse in Congress is whether to require redeployments of U.S. troops if the benchmarks are not met. Many Democrats insist on it, and many Republicans vow not to budge.

“Our members will not accept restraints on the military,” House Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri told reporters Tuesday. He suggested tying benchmarks to continued U.S. nonmilitary aid to Iraq, an idea that many Democrats consider too weak.

Under another proposal being floated, unmet benchmarks would cause some U.S. troops to be removed from especially violent regions such as Baghdad. They would redeploy to places in Iraq where they presumably could fight terrorists but avoid the worst centers of Sunni-Shia conflict.

Still another possibility would change the bill that Bush vetoed only by allowing the president to waive the redeployment requirements under certain conditions

Senate Republicans show a bit more interest in compromise than do their House colleagues, in part because several of them face tough re-elections next year in competitive states.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters Tuesday that his party will accept benchmarks. But he declined to say whether he would agree to binding consequences if such benchmarks go unmet.

“You’ve asked me if there is an area where there’s a potential common ground,” McConnell said, “and I think benchmarks are a possibility.”

–CHARLES BABINGTON

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

9 Responses to Bush veto puts pressure on Democrats

  1. Ardie

    May 2, 2007 at 8:54 am

    Bush is like a smart ass teenager who can’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It is time for some tough love. Either Bush does what the Democrats want or he bears sole responsibility for the troops in Iraq. The Democrats have compromised enough.

  2. Bill Jonke

    May 2, 2007 at 11:06 am

    People who are saying that the Democrats should send the very same bill back to the idiot’s desk.

    We’ve had enough of the insanity of Bush’s “more of the same” thrown back at our “desks” as Americans for six years.

    There’s enough insanity to go around, and two can play at this game of stubbornness. It’s time for some reverse psychology for the puerile spoiled brat!

    There’s no love, tough or otherwise, for George, W Bush or his virulently dysfunctional family

    Bill Jonke

  3. jarrodlombardo

    May 2, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Rules of Order say they can’t send the exact same bill back because the same item cannot be voted on in the same session. It would be possible to send a barely different bill though.

    My preference would be for the Dems to say that since Bush vetoed the troop funding, that means he doesn’t want the war funded anymore. They’ll be “nice” and not try to overrule the President’s wishes to not fund the war by submitting a new bill at all.

    –Jarrod

  4. Caine

    May 2, 2007 at 10:30 am

    I too think the dems should either send it back as it is, or don’t send it back at all. The majority of Americans want out of Iraq. The Iraqi’s want us out as well.

    Benchmarks will not work. Haven’t benchmarks been used before? Weren’t there any benchmarks in place up to this point? If not, why not?

    This is just another time wasting effort. This will give those folks running for president in 2008 some ammunition to use for their campaigns. If the war ends before the elections, what will they all use for campaigning?

    Write your congress critters. Tell them how you feel about this. That is the only way we can hope to even have a chance of ending this war!

  5. Ardie

    May 2, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Senator Russ Feingold and other brave patriotic Senators, should filibuster any bill which does not have binding language for troop redeployment. Period. Say no to tyrants.

  6. Carl Nemo

    May 2, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    It’s obvious, based on Bushco’s performance to this point, post his 2003 declaration of “Mission Accomplished” to now, that this is nothing, but a shakedown of the American taxpayer. Even the Maliki puppet regime is in on the take. So I advise all citizen patriots regardless of party affiliation to contact your reps in the House and demand they support an effort to override the Veto. Intransigent republicans reps need to be roughed up on the phone and their offices summarily told if they don’t override his Veto they are “not” going back to D.C. when their bid for re-election comes up.

    Failing this, Congress needs to keep shipping the same bill back to his Veto pin so it’s tip can kiss the paper until the 12th of never. When they finally run out of dough and their only option is pack our guys on transports and clear out of Iraq, then “we the people” shall have prevailed. Rest assured folks, they won’t be left standing in their skivvies at Bagdhad airport, weaponless and out of ammo. For Bushco to spin this yarn is pure b.s. If we have to leave like during the “Fall of Saigon” with bullets zipping around our choppers etc. as we high-tail it to Kuwait then so be it!

    We can’t win modern wars because they aren’t winnable wars, they are nothing but “kick the door”, regime-changing, SWAT actions;i.e., rousting other nations for the benefit of the MIC/NWO/AIPAC “oil patch” interests. It’s a blank check and we are supposed to grin and bear it. Bush is not a king although he may think so in his mind. He’s no different than some small town mayor and his minions that have gone “bad”. Congress now needs to do their duty and show them the door and who’s the real boss; i.e., “we the people”…!

    I’ll post the duty link so folks can locate their rep. It’s very easy and I suggest you create a shortcut on your desktop to their office locations, tel numbers, email addresses etc. I suggest calling first, emailing second, and snail mailing last although it is still the most effective method to get your message across. The second link allows you to sign up for an email service that will alert you as to how your reps vote on bills be they HB or SB’s. After you send them to D.C. you “must” keep a close eye on how they vote, if not you’ll find out in many casese they are hammering out either their own agenda, or they’ve climbed on the NWO/AIPAC bandwagon which is out to neutralize/destroy the United States of America as we know it. As they say…”just do it”…! Carl Nemo **==

    http://www.conservativeusa.org/megalink.htm
    http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/

  7. Sandy Price

    May 2, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    This news just broke. Nowhere near enough for 2/3 majority. Damn!

  8. Roadapple00

    May 2, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    This article says that the democrats must do something so they do not get hammered on for not funding the war, thus our troops. If you have no money to operate, don’t you just close up shop and go home?

    I know I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer or the brightest candle in the room, but I can at least admit to it. Am I missing something here?

  9. Wayne K Dolik

    May 2, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    I think the Congress should take a page out of Nancy Reagan’s play-book. JUST SAY NO!