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“Enough is enough. It is time to get a clean bill to the president’s desk and really support our troops,” House Minority Leader John A. Boehner said as he received a petition signed by 2,700 current and former service members in support of continuing the war in Iraq.

“The consequences of failure are too ominous to even comprehend,” the Ohio Republican said. “If we don’t take on the terrorists and we are not willing to take on the terrorists in Iraq, where do we draw the line and when do we stand up to protect the safety and interests of the American people?” Also yesterday, it was disclosed that 11 more-liberal House Republicans had met unannounced with the president and top aides at the White House on Tuesday.

Several participants described a blunt discussion in which lawmakers told the president that the war was unsustainable without public support and was having a corrosive effect on Republican political fortunes.

Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said he told the president that many of his constituents are “impatient, and in some cases have a sense of futility” about the war.

Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia said he presented recent polling data from his Northern Virginia district showing Mr. Bush’s unfavorability ratings exceeded his approval ratings.

“We asked them what’s Plan B. We let them know that the status quo is not acceptable,” he said.

Mr. Davis told reporters that the president responded that if he began discussing a new strategy, the current one would never have a chance to succeed.

At the committee hearing, Mr. Gates said House Democrats’ plan to ration spending would not fix the shortfalls that the Pentagon faces.

“I essentially have 10,000 faucets all running money, and some of them run at one rate, some of them run at another, and they all draw on one big pool of money behind them,” he said. “Turning them on and off with precision and on a day-to-day basis, or even a month-to-month basis, gets very difficult.” Defense contracts would be disrupted and adversely affect military readiness and efforts to replace worn out weapons and equipment, Mr. Gates said, noting that it would add costs to existing contracts.

He also warned the lawmakers that a vote to cut funding in July would force him to “shut down significant elements of the Department of Defense in August and September because I wouldn’t have the money to pay salaries.” Asked when U.S. forces can be withdrawn, Mr. Gates said Army Gen. David H.

Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, will evaluate the situation in September and recommend whether troop levels can be reduced.

U.S. troops could safely begin to withdraw once violence is reduced to a level where the Iraqi government can advance a political reconciliation within the country, he said.

* This article was based in part on wire-service reports.