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House fails to override Bush veto of Iraq war spending bill with U.S. troop withdrawal deadlines

House fails to override Bush veto of Iraq war spending bill with U.S. troop withdrawal deadlines

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives failed Wednesday to override President George W. Bush's veto of an Iraqi war spending bill with timetables for troop withdrawals. Lawmakers went directly to the White House to talk about a new version.
"Yesterday was a day that highlighted differences," Bush said. "Today is the day where we can work together to find common ground."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House leader Nancy Pelosi sat on either side of the president. The Democratic leaders were stone-faced as Bush made his brief statement. The White House meeting started late, apparently delayed by the failed override attempt.
"I'm confident we can reach agreement," Bush said.
The 222-203 vote, far short of the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override, occurred just ahead of a White House meeting that Bush called to begin compromise talks with congressional leaders of both parties on new legislation to finance the war, now in its fifth year.
Voting to override Bush's veto were 220 Democrats and two Republicans. Voting to sustain the veto were 196 Republicans and seven Democrats.
"The president has turned a tin ear to the wishes of the American people," Pelosi said during the hour-long debate before the vote. "The president wants a blank check. The Congress will not give it to him."
But Rep. Jerry Lewis, a Republican, urged his colleagues to sustain the veto, saying politicians should not make military decisions.
"Now is not the time for the United States to back down in its war on terror," Lewis said.
Negotiations for a new spending bill could prove difficult. Both parties agree it should include benchmarks for progress in Iraq, but many Democrats insist they be tied to timelines for U.S. troop withdrawals if they are unmet. Bush and his congressional allies say such links are unacceptable.
Hours before the House vote sustained the veto, which Bush had issued Tuesday, the president showed little appetite for compromise.
"I am confident that with goodwill on both sides that we can move beyond political statements and agree on a bill that gives our troops the funds and flexibility to do the job that we asked them to do," he said in a speech in Washington before The Associated General Contractors of America.
Of the original bill pushed through Congress by Democrats, Bush said: "It didn't make any sense to impose the will of politicians over the recommendations of our military commanders in the field."
Pelosi had told reporters Wednesday: "Benchmarks are important, but they have to have teeth in order to be effective."
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said before the vote that he hopes to have a new bill passed in the House in two weeks, with a final measure sent to the president before Memorial Day. "We're not going to leave our troops in harms way . . . without the resources they need," said Hoyer.
Hoyer would not speculate on exactly what the bill might look like, but said he anticipates a minimum-wage increase will be part of it. He said the bill should fund combat through Sept. 30 as Bush has requested, casting doubt that Democratic leaders will adopt a proposal by Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat, to fund the war two or three months at a time.
As for bipartisan cooperation in Congress, neither side seemed in much of a hurry Wednesday. "There have been discussions about talking," Hoyer said.
Republican leader John Boehner said Republicans were not taking any options off the table. But "what I want is a clean bill" without a timetable on the war, he said
The situation has Democratic lawmakers in a difficult position. Because they 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. Bush is trying to prevent any incursion on his authority as the U.S commander in chief.


Updated : 2021-07-27 08:21 GMT+08:00