House fails to overturn veto; Bush pledges ‘cooperation’

Bush meets with Democratic leaders (AP)

Congress failed to override President Bush’s veto of legislation requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq on Wednesday, a defeat for anti-war Democrats that triggered immediate talks on a new measure to fund the conflict.

The vote in the House was 222-203, 62 shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto. With few exceptions, Republicans stood fast with Bush in the wartime clash.

"I’m confident we can reach agreement," the president said moments after the vote as he sat down at the White House with leaders of the Democratic-controlled Congress who have vowed repeatedly to force him to change his war policy.

Democrats flashed defiance, yet signaled they were ready to make significant concessions such as jettisoning the troop withdrawal timetable in order to gain Bush’s signature on a replacement measure. There was early talk in both parties of setting goals for the government of Iraq to meet as it strives to develop a self-defending, democratic society.

"Make no mistake, Democrats are committed to ending this war," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "We hope to do so in unison with the president of the United States," she said on a day of carefully scripted political drama at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

The veto vote hewed closely to party lines, with 220 Democrats and two Republicans in favor of overriding the president, and 196 Republicans and seven Democrats voting to sustain him.

Despite the magnitude of the issue, Bush’s political victory was a foregone conclusion, and the one-hour debate on the House floor was suspenseless.

While Pelosi and other Democrats took turns criticizing Bush, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader, said that terrorists had made Iraq the central focus of their war against the United States.

"If we’re not going to stand up to them in Iraq, we’re not going to take them on in Iraq and defeat them there, where and when will we do it?" he asked.

The day’s developments unfolded as the fourth of five brigades ordered into the war zone in January poured into Baghdad. Bush decided on the increased deployment as part of an attempt to quell sectarian violence in a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,300 U.S. troops and grown increasingly unpopular.

It was only the second time in 6 1/2 years he has rejected a bill sent to him. In his formal veto message, he wrote that "the micromanagement in this legislation is unacceptable."

He also called the original bill unconstitutional for directing war operations "in a way that infringes upon the powers vested in the presidency."

Outside the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bristled at that claim. "We are not going to be submitting our legislation to somebody at one of the law schools to look for its constitutionality. We have an obligation, under the terms of the Constitution, to legislate," he said. "That’s our job."

The main sticking point concerned the Democratic demand for a troop withdrawal timeline. Under the vetoed measure, the withdrawal would have begun no later than Oct., 1 with a goal of completion six months later.

It seemed unlikely Democrats would try the same approach a second time.

Instead, there was talk of establishing standards for the Iraq government to meet. Republicans, too, support benchmarks, suggesting an area of potential compromise.

But that led instantly to an area of obvious disagreement — how, or whether, to enforce these so-called benchmarks if the government of Nouri al-Maliki fails to meet them.

"Benchmarks are important, but they have to have teeth in order to be effective," Pelosi said.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, Democrats said they were eager to proceed quickly.

"We’re not going to leave our troops in harm’s way … without the resources they need," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. He said he hopes to have a replacement measure ready for a vote within two weeks. Democratic leaders had said previously they hope to send Bush legislation he can sign before Memorial Day.

Bush has said the funds are needed quickly to prevent serious disruptions in military activities. Officials said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton would meet with Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Thursday.

The House vote and subsequent White House meeting occurred in a political environment of increasing complexity.

While the Democratic leadership in Congress signaled it was ready to make concessions, at least one of the party’s presidential hopefuls called for a more confrontational approach.

"We’ve got a few days — maybe less — to do absolutely everything we can to ensure this Congress responds to Bush’s veto by sending another binding plan to end the war," former Sen. John Edwards wrote in a fundraising appeal on his Web site.

Assuming they jettison the withdrawal timetable, Democrats could face significant defections on the next legislation. That, in turn, would give Republicans in the House and Senate more leverage.

While most GOP lawmakers have stuck with the president so far, public opinion polls show strong opposition to the war. Several Republican officials said during the day that the party’s lawmakers are looking for a way to signal impatience with the conflict and the government in Baghdad.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said she is circulating a proposal to reverse Bush’s troop buildup and transfer combat operations to the Iraqis if the Baghdad government does not make progress in 120 days. U.S. military commanders would be given substantial flexibility, however, on how fast troops should leave.

Sen. John Warner of Virginia,a prominent Republican on defense issues, told reporters he was circulating one proposal that he declined to describe. He said he was confident "it can achieve more than 70 votes" needed to override a veto in the Senate.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. gene

    Starting with Bush, Cheney and all their butt sucking lovers, I just wonder how many idiots their are per sq foot in Washington D.C. The number must be staggering….of course this includes most of congress.

  2. Razor

    There must be participation by the people. We all must tell our representatives to not deal with Bush. Do not propose another bill and stand pat on the bill he vetoed. It is us who pay off the borrowed money with interest and if we just tell congress that we are not willing to pay it unless we know the end date of this conflict. In other words, take it or leave it Mr. Bush. If the Dems cave in and give Bush his way, there will be no end to the escalation of this mess in Iraq. Just say No.

    If the Dems roll over on this issue you can forget about any significant change with the elections of 2008. It will prove there is just posturing for political futures and no real representation for the voters

  3. Steve Horn

    Gee – George could have avoided all this broo-ha-ha if he’d signed the bill into law and used one of his famous signing statements – indicating that – while enacting the legislation – he did not feel bound by the contents of it.

    While as useful as a crocheted condom, this would have seemed more in the spirit of things for George than a veto.

    Now PeLousy and her minions are off to “craft” legislation that GW will be able to sign – no more binding time tables – no more real teeth in the act – probalby peppered with non-binding resolutions suggesting that Iraq meet certain goals within undefined timetables –

    All the while the counts of wounded and dead American men and women continue to rise as global respect for America contines to fall –



    Oh – and lets not forget funding for the Iraqi legislatures two month recess – after all – they’ve been doing nothing for quite some time – I’m sure they’re due a long vacation! Perhaps we should give our military universal leave while the Iraqi government is on vacation …

  4. Steve Horn

    “If the Dems roll over on this issue you can forget about any significant change with the elections of 2008. It will prove there is just posturing for political futures and no real representation for the voters”

    Quite to the contrary – perhaps if the Dems prove themselves to be as ineffective as the Republicans the chance for real change will come about.

    Perhaps the American people will decide (as I did some years ago) that both “major” parties are composed of gas bags – and that the “third” parties are where the hope for this nation resides. Conservative or liberal, rightist or leftists, constitutionalist or communist – it really doesn’t matter to me. We are all adults and able to make our own affinity choices.

    What matters is that the time for change has come – the two major parties no longer reflect the true will or needs of the citizens – they are mere conveniences – labels upon which to hang our hats.

    In 2008 bring about real change – vote for OTHER than major party candidates –



  5. Steve Horn

    let’s not forget – Bush also pledged to uphold and defend the constitution.

  6. SEAL

    In order for people to vote for a third party, there has to be a third party. Only once in my lifetime was there a legitmate third choice. Ross Perot only drew 13% of the vote if memory seves me. He made a couple of crucial mistakes or the number would probably have been twice that and really made a difference.

    If a Perot were to come along today he would undoubtably draw a great deal more support and probably win. But what are the chances of that. One of the things that knocked Perot out was the threat to his family. That threat was professional and real. Expect the same thing if there is any real threat to the present two party power machine. Remember the Kennedys?

    There is no viable third party available today. It takes years to create one with the ability to compete with the two majors. We only have one year. Even if we could pull off the miracle of electing a president he/she would have an advosarial congress. Not much could be accomplished.

    We stand a much better chance of causing change by redesigning one of the present parties. We do that by finding the right candidates and getting them elected.

  7. SEAL

    A couple of days ago Bush flatly stated that failure to give him his funds for his war would cause the troops to not have any replacement equipment. In other words, money or not he will keep the troops in Iraq. But they will not have the replacements for all those things that normally wear out or run out in a war. Shoes, socks, underwear, tires, brakes, oil, gas, armor, ammo, food, etc., etc. He also said that would be the democrats fault, failing to support the troops.

    However, not one single democrat has asked how any “commander in chief” could possibly declare he would do such a thing to American soldiers in a war. Without the money to support the troops in the field Bush would have no options. He would have to redeploy them from the war zone and use whatever money he had left to move the forces to safety. Instead, he says he would leave them out there without equipment. No sane person would consider doing that.

    The fact that the democrats continue to allow Bush to get away with statements like this leaves me to think they are deliberately losing the battle over the war funding bill. That is a perfect opportunity to expose Bush for the despictable, incompetent, deluded bastard he is. Why else would they pass up the opportunity? The only thing that makes any sense is they are willing to do what is the worst for the country and our troops just to have the perfect advantage to acquire complete control of both branches of government in 2008. That makes them just as bad as the present administration.

  8. Ardie

    Bush is desperately trying to frame the issue to make the Democrats appear to be at fault. But it won’t work. So far, the image Bush is sending America is that of a hostage taker who has our troops held hostage; who will allow funds to be cut off, unless the Democrats give him what he wants.

    If the Democrats play it right, they will call his bluff. Or if they wished, they could give him his pound of flesh, but no blood. Democrats could remove time limits but then set a limit that no soldier could be be deployed in the Iraqi theatre for more than one 12 month tour (like Vietnam). If more troops are then required, the president is authorized to use the draft, if he wishes, to meet exact quotas. (This will make him look bad–and panic every parent in the U.S. who has kids)

    In other words, Bush can have his unlimited war but with strings–and the Republicans will pay dearly in 2008 as every young adult subject to the draft will vote to end the war in 2008.

  9. April-May

    Congress has the power of the purse. Let the $$$ run out.

    Let’s see who “blinks first.”

  10. Steve Horn

    Application of power requires courage – while congress may have the power it’s obvious that they lack the courage and conviction to stand up for what their constituents want.

  11. Bill Jonke

    The class clown who is the president only understands playground stuff.

    At this stage of the game we should actually lower ourselves to his level and in turn, lower the boom on him.

    I’d rather see a guillotine blade lower down on him, but who am I? The above action wouldn’t change his mentality at all.

    Bill Jonke

  12. SEAL

    I agree with you, Kay. The democrats should do absolutely nothing, not even talk about it. Let Bush wonder what they are up to. When he finally says he needs a bill to fund the war, they tell him “Gee Mr. President, we already sent the bill to you to fund the war. Didn’t you get it? What did you do with it?”

    “Sorry sir, that’s the only funding bill we had.”

    “You shouldn’t have rejected it.”

    Yeah, I know, that’s silly playground stuff but that is what he deserves and it sure would be a lot of fun to watch his face.

  13. Carl Nemo

    KayinMaine’s strategy would work. The trouble is the spineless worms in the House wanting to please everyone, end up pleasing no one! Neither Pelosi nor Reid has enough starch in their undies to pull this off. Bushco would whine that the Dems are abandoning the troops which is pure b.s. The field commanders have enough sense to know when it’s time to load the choppers and the transports and high-tail it out of Dodge. They aren’t going to be left standing around in the Green Zone without ammo, rations, and clean underwear… :))
    With Kays strategy both sides would make the sacrifice, the Dems forgoing the add-on “pork” and Bush left without funding for this continuing war based on “cooked” intelligence.
    Yeah, he and his minions will look pretty damn silly running out of money, but it couldn’t happened to a more deserving bunch of elected disappoinments.

    Bush can go to his buddies in Europe and pass the hat. Since we are defending the value of a barrel oil which supports their all-powerful Euro as the new defacto reserve currency they need to spend some of these plush Euro’s defending it’s value…no?! I think the Krauts would look magnificent charging across the sands of Iraq and Iran playing Rommel redux… :))

  14. KayInMaine

    …the democrats decided right now to not send him another bill and consider the illegal occupation now unfunded because Bush vetoed it? Could work. The Pentagon has until either June or August enough money to pay for the war themselves and then after that…nothing.

    I think it’s juicy that Bush has technically ended the war with a stroke of a pen!

  15. LurkingFromTheLeft

    …who do we trust to make decisions? Congress or The Commander Guy?

    …gee, that’s a hard one – well – The Commander Guy is doing a heckuva job –

    …as in job on the past, present, and future of man/womankind –

    …yep, I go with the Commander Guy – NOT


  16. Roadapple00

    The solution is easy. They get things passed all the time by “attaching” it to another bill that is almost a shoe in to pass.

    Give him budget, then put the troop withdrawal at the end of another bill, and bingo, bill passed.

    They do it up there all the time and no one seems to notice. Go for it. What have they got to lose.

  17. Carl Nemo

    I’m providing a link to the roll call vote for HR 1591, the House Supplemental Appropriations Bill for war funding and additional “pork”. I suggest folks constructively target the non-voters and the seven “Blue-Dog” Democrats that really should join the Republican party rather than waste peoples time by playing fake Democrat. Congressman Kucinich, “Mr Impeachment” was just present…?! I guess he hopes to be “just present” if and when he’s elected to the Presidency…not!

    What fools “we the people” are for allowing Bushco to perpetuate this war until the end of his Presidency. We are dead broke as a nation! As I type this the U.S. dollar is headed for the ashbin of history and will no longer be the worlds reserve currency in short order. Our trade deficit is an abomination, and jobs are still being outsourced at a phenomenal rate. Arabs won’t even accept the dollar for oil purchases. The USD is worth .735 EUR as of today. That means in addition to the high price of gasoline at the pump there’s also 26 percent surcharge imbedded in the pricing due to the dollar “tanking” against the Euro…no pun intended.

    It’s as if the American people have let burglars and con artists take over the nation’s capitol as they sit idly by playing with their Ipods, Blackberrys, multi-purpose cell phones, large screen TV’s, watching boobish productions like American Idol etc., while packing their fat faces with comfort food, swilling suds and sodapop without a clue nor a care as to what’s happening to them. These cunning leaders know what’s happened and they’ve evidently won. America is nothing but a coast to coast consumeristic “feedlot” with the average denizen’s I.Q. not far above those found in the stockyard. Wake-up America…?! Wait…! I heard some concern from afar…”change the channel “…my mistake.

  18. KayInMaine

    Now that Bush has vetoed this emergency spending bill he’s basically telling the Congress that the money wasn’t needed because there was no emergency. Let the money run out now and we’ll sit back and watch the Pentagon cry for their welfare checks, but we Americans will say, “Well, your Commander Guy said you didn’t need the money. Deal with it.”.

    I need to get me a new pair of pajamas and more popcorn because this is getting good.

    Calling Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid and making a statement is in order! We need to tell them to do nothing now. The illegal occupation is over because Bush made it that way. The End.