U.S. Democrats to fund Iraq war with no pullout date
By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President
Bush won a battle over funding the Iraq war as congressional
Democrats Tuesday abandoned troop withdrawal efforts for now
but pledged to fight with new legislation in July.
Senior congressional aides said a $100 billion war funding
bill the U.S. Congress is trying to finish this week will not
contain timetables for withdrawing most of the 147,000 U.S.
troops from Iraq, as anti-war Democrats had hoped.
On May 1, Bush vetoed Congress’ first version of this
year’s emergency war funds bill because it set an Oct. 1
deadline for starting to pull out soldiers.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat,
said that finishing touches on a new bill were still being
worked on with the White House.
But acknowledging the political realities of the Democrats’
narrow control of Congress and a White House occupied by a
Republican, Hoyer told reporters, “The president has made it
very clear he’s not going to sign timelines (for withdrawing
troops). We can’t pass timelines over his veto.”
That will be a disappointment for many Democrats who think
they won control of Congress in last November’s elections
largely because voters wanted to see an end to the
four-year-old war in Iraq.
Hoyer said Democrats will continue pushing for a “change in
direction” in Iraq, where at least 3,420 U.S. soldiers have
been killed and more than 34,000 wounded.
“Certainly we’ll do it in July when Mr. Murtha’s bill is on
the floor,” Hoyer said.
He was referring to Rep. John Murtha, the Pennsylvania
Democrat who has led efforts in the House of Representatives to
end U.S. combat involvement in the Iraq war. In July, Murtha
will shepherd a military funding bill through the House for the
next fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1….