- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 7, 2007

CRAWFORD, Texas — President Bush yesterday accused Democrats of using U.S. troops as political pawns and chided lawmakers for taking a spring break before completing work on a $100 billion bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Turning up the heat on the Democrat-controlled Congress, the president said Americans do not support lawmakers’ attempts to place a timetable on a U.S. pullout from Iraq and do not want troops to go unfunded.

“I recognize that Democrats are trying to show their current opposition to the war in Iraq. They see the emergency war-spending bill as a chance to make that statement. Yet for our men and women in uniform, this emergency war-spending bill is not a political statement, it is a source of critical funding that has a direct impact on their daily lives,” the president said in his weekly radio address.

The Senate returns this week. The House is in recess until April 16.

“That means the soonest the House and Senate could get a bill to my desk will be sometime late this month, after the adverse consequences for our troops and their families have already begun,” the president said.

As he has for nearly a month, Mr. Bush said he will veto either spending bill in its current form. He rejects both a Senate-passed bill calling for most U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraq by March 31, 2008, and a House-passed bill that sets a September 2008 withdrawal.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Mr. Bush continues to follow his “my way or the highway” approach on the war.

“It is time for the president and Republicans in Congress to stop trying to bully their way through this and work with Democrats to end the war,” Mr. Dean said in his party’s weekly radio address. “It’s time for the president to show respect to the American people, who voted overwhelmingly to leave Iraq.”

Democrats continue to seek ways to end the war. Although the president has vowed to veto any bill that includes a timetable for withdrawal, Democrats plan to resubmit timetables even after the war-funding bill passes and is signed into law.

The president is on an Easter break, spending five days at his Crawford, Texas, ranch before heading tomorrow to Yuma, Ariz., for a speech on immigration.

The fierce debate on the Iraq war followed him home, as war opponent Cindy Sheehan set up camp near his ranch and called on the president to “end this madness.”

Mrs. Sheehan, whose son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004, led dozens of protesters to a security checkpoint near the president’s ranch on Friday, set up a makeshift altar and read names of some of the U.S. troops killed in Iraq.

“Our message is: Today is Good Friday, when Jesus Christ was killed by the Roman Empire. He rose again on Sunday, came back to life. But our loved ones won’t be coming home” from Iraq, she told reporters.

Mrs. Sheehan also criticized Democrats, who took control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.

“They got there and they betrayed the grass roots that put them back there,” she said. “We can’t depend on the Democrats.”

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