Bush won’t accept Iraq war timetable
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, standing firmly against a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, said Tuesday that he will veto the latest war spending bill taking shape in Congress.
“I’m disappointed that the Democratic leadership has chosen this course,” Bush said.
“They chose to make a political statement,” he said. “That’s their right but it is wrong for our troops and it’s wrong for our country. To accept the bill proposed by the Democratic leadership would be to accept a policy that directly contradicts the judgment of our military commanders.”
House and Senate Democratic appropriators agreed Monday on a $124 billion bill that would fund the Iraq war but order troops to begin leaving by Oct. 1 with the goal of completing the pullout six months later. Democrats would need a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto.
Democrats said they won’t back down and pointed to past remarks by Gen. David Petraeus, the new Iraq commander, that security in Iraq requires a political solution.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who says the war in Iraq is “lost,” likened Bush to President Lyndon Johnson, saying Johnson ordered troop escalations in Vietnam in an attempt “to save his political legacy” only to watch U.S. casualties climb steadily.
Bush said U.S. troops should not be caught in the middle of a showdown between the White House and Congress.
“Yesterday, Democratic leaders announced that they planned to send me a bill that will fund our troops only if we agree to handcuff our generals, add billions of dollars of unrelated spending and begin to pull out of Iraq by an arbitrary date,” Bush said in the Rose Garden.
He said the bill would mandate the withdrawal of U.S. troops beginning as early as July 1 and no later than Oct. 1, despite the fact that Petraeus has not yet received all the reinforcements he has said he needs to help secure Baghdad and the troubled Anbar Province.
Democrats have argued that the election that left Democrats in control of Congress was a referendum for a change of strategy in Iraq. Bush used the same election results to argue his point.
“The American people did not vote for failure,” he said. “That is precisely what the Democratic leadership’s bill would guarantee.
“It’s not too late for Congress to do the right thing.”