- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

3:27 p.m.

President Bush today promised to veto the Democrats’ plan for withdrawing U.S. troops this year saying that to take such an approach would be “an unforgivable mistake.”

“If the Democratic leaders insist on using the bill to make a political statement, they will leave me with only one option: I will veto it,” said Mr. Bush, a day before a crucial House vote on the matter. “I’m disappointed that the Democratic leadership has chosen this course.”

He added that “it is not too late for Congress to do the right thing.”

Mr. Bush, speaking from the White House’s south lawn, is calling on Democrats to pass an emergency funding war bill that does not include a timeline for troop withdrawal or restrictions on what kind of operations U.S. forces can engage in.

The president made reference to the 2006 mid-term elections, in which Democrats recaptured control of the House and the Senate. Democrats have pointed to the election as a mandate from the American people to get U.S. troops out of Iraq.

“Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change of strategy on Iraq. I listened,” said Mr. Bush, referring to his January announcement to send 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq under a new military commander, Gen. David Petraeus.

Gen. Petraeus will brief Congress tomorrow on how the surge of troops — which stands at a 30,000 troop increase — is working.

“The American people did not vote for failure, and that is precisely what the Democratic leadership’s bill would guarantee,” said Mr. Bush, adding that a stated withdrawal timeline “makes no sense.”

The Democrat-controlled Congress yesterday moved to limit U.S. combat operations in Iraq immediately and withdraw troops as early as July.

The bill passed the conference committee and heads to a final vote tomorrow in the House and Thursday in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, yesterday said Democrats “are the people’s representatives.”

The standoff with Congress threatens to stall $100 billion in funding for U.S. forces in Iraq even as the Pentagon raids other military accounts to pay for the war until July.

“I know that Americans have serious concerns about this war,” Mr. Bush said. “People want our troops to come home, and so do I. But no matter how frustrating the fight can be, and no matter how much we wish the war was over, the security of our country depends directly on the outcome in Iraq.”

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