Strip add-ons from war-funding bill, Bush says

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Democrats who are moving ahead with anti-war legislation are using troops as leverage to win domestic political battles, President Bush said yesterday. Democrats pledged to keep pushing until there is a change of course in Iraq.

Mr. Bush said some lawmakers see a chance “to micromanage our military commanders, force a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq and spend billions on domestic projects that have nothing to do with the war on terror.”

In his weekly radio address, the president said: “Many in Congress say they support the troops, and I believe them. Now they have a chance to show that support in deed, as well as in word.”

Mr. Bush repeated his promise that his spending request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan must be approved “without strings and without delay” or he will veto it.

His address, broadcast while he spent the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat, aired hours before protesters marched to the Pentagon to denounce the Iraq war.

Before the protests began, the White House issued a fact sheet outlining progress in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion. The White House said Iraqis are stepping up to take control of security and beginning to meet benchmarks to achieve political reconciliation among warring Muslim sects.

Two months ago, Mr. Bush ordered 21,500 more combat troops to Baghdad and Anbar province. Officials later said that an additional 7,000 support troops would be needed.

In her party’s weekly radio address, Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, promoted a Democratic plan to narrow the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq and begin redeployment of troops within four months.

“Regrettably, our effort was blocked by Senate Republicans and a president who stubbornly refused to listen,” Mrs. Murray said.

Democrats get another chance this week when the full House begins work on the war-spending request, which covers costs for this year.

A House committee on Thursday approved the spending bill that includes a troop-withdrawal deadline of Sept. 1, 2008. It also requires that troops receive proper training, equipment and rest, although Mr. Bush is permitted to waive those provisions.

The president said all of those “arbitrary and restrictive conditions” are unacceptable.

“These restrictions would handcuff our generals in the field by denying them the flexibility they need to adjust their operations to the changing situation on the ground,” he said. “And these restrictions would substitute the mandates of Congress for the considered judgment of our military commanders.”

The spending bill totals $124 billion, $95.5 billion of which is targeted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The rest of the funds in the House bill would go to domestic programs unrelated to the wars.

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