By Holly Rosenkrantz
Bush Will Seek Compromise With Democrats on Iraq
Sun May 6, 2007 00:46

Bush Will Seek Compromise With Democrats on Iraq (Update2)
Bloomberg - 13 hours ago
By Holly Rosenkrantz. May 5 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said he is confident his administration and Democratic leaders in Congress can set aside ...

Bush Will Seek Compromise With Democrats on Iraq (Update2)

By Holly Rosenkrantz

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said he is confident his administration and Democratic leaders in Congress can set aside differences on Iraq that culminated this week in Bush's vetoing a troop funding measure.

``Democratic leaders assured me they are committed to funding our troops, and I told them I'm committed to working with members of both parties to do just that,'' Bush said in his weekly radio address. ``Now is the time to give our troops the resources they are waiting for.''

Congressional leaders met with Bush this week at the White House to begin talks on a new funding measure after he vetoed a $124.2 billion bill that included a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Bush and the Democrats in Congress are under pressure to provide money for the Iraq war, which costs the U.S. about $8.6 billion a month, before the Defense Department runs short of funds.

Bush, who opposes any withdrawal timeline, assigned White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and Budget Director Rob Portman to work with Congress on a new spending bill.

New York Senator Charles Schumer, in the Democratic Party's response, said the U.S. needs to change course in Iraq while still giving troops the funding necessary to complete their mission.

`Change the Mission'

``I know how strongly the President feels that he is right, but if he looked at the facts on the ground, he would come to the conclusion that most Americans have - we need a change in direction,'' Schumer said. ``I ask you to work with us to find a way to both fund the troops and change the mission.''

Republicans and Democrats have said a solution may be a funding measure with a series of political and security benchmarks for the Iraq government to meet and without the troop withdrawal timetable that Bush opposes.

A likely sticking point is whether to include consequences if the Iraqi government fails to meet the benchmarks. Democrats, and some Republicans such as Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, insist that there be penalties for falling short, such as a loss of U.S. financial support or the withdrawal of some coalition forces.

The legislation Bush vetoed included benchmarks for strengthening the Iraqi security forces and disarming local militias, pursuing reconciliation among Iraq's ethnic groups, reducing the overall level of sectarian violence in Iraq and ensuring the rights of minority parties in the parliament.

The legislation also mandated an administration report to Congress every 60 days on Iraqi progress in meeting the benchmarks.

The president today, before a morning bicycle ride, also called on Americans to exercise more in observance of Physical Fitness Month.

``The message to all Americans is to find time in your schedule to walk, run, swim, bike -- to take care of yourselves,'' Bush said. ``It doesn't take much time to stay fit.''

To contact the reporters on this story: Holly Rosenkrantz in Washington at
Last Updated: May 5, 2007 12:18 EDT


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