President Bush received leaders of both parties at the White House Wednesday to discuss the impasse over military appropriations legislation that the Democrats have tied to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
"We're going to have a very good discussion," Bush said in the Cabinet Room of the White House, where the meeting was held, according to the Associated Press. "People have strong opinions around the table. I'm looking forward to listening to them. I've got my own opinion, which I'm more than willing to share."
The president was flanked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at the table. Republican leadership was also present.
As the invitation to Pelosi and Reid was offered last week, the White House said it would not negotiate, and it appears to have kept its word. In remarks after the discussion, Democrats also seemed not to budge.
Pelosi said she expected chambers hope to compromise the differences in their bills and pass a joint bill next week. "We cannot give the president a blank check," she said. "We left the room with the president understanding that we came in friendship. We respect his role. We wanted him to respect ours," she added, according to the LA Times.
Reid added, "We believe he must search his soul, his conscience and find out what is the right thing for the American people. I believe signing this bill will do that."
Democrats are expected to present the president with a bill that contains the provisions for funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as he requested, but bundled with a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, which Bush has repeatedly vowed to veto.
Republicans urged the Democrats to move quickly. "The other side pretty much conceded that we need to get funds to the troops," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "The bill is going to be vetoed. Then we have to get serious about funding the troops without a withdrawal date," McConnell added, according to the LA Times.