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Archive: May 2007
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The Latest
Compromise Breaks Weeks of Deadlock Over Time Line Issue
05/24/2007 1:21 PM ET
WASHINGTON - MAY 24: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House May 24, 2007 in Washington DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty
WASHINGTON - MAY 24: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House May 24, 2007 in Washington DC.

President Bush voiced support for the $120 billion war spending bill scheduled to pass Congress Thursday, winning a political victory against Democrats' moves to force a timetable for Iraq withdrawal into the measure.

"By voting for this bill, members of both parties can show our troops and the Iraqis and the enemy that our country will support our service men and women in harm's way," Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference.

In exchange for dropping the time line, Bush agreed to support some $17 billion in spending added by Democrats, including $6.4 billion in hurricane relief and $3 billion in agricultural assistance.

The
Associated Press reports that some Democrats said they were disappointed with the deal.

"I hate this agreement," said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Obey said the deal was the best that Democrats could do manage because "the White House is in a cloud somewhere in terms of understanding the realities in Iraq."

President Bush also said Thursday that this summer will be a critical time for his Iraq troop buildup strategy and predicted that fighting could get heavy in the coming weeks before things improved. He said the last troops of the build-up should be in place in mid-June and that Petraeus would make a report on the impact of his strategy to Congress in the fall.

“I would like to see us in a different configuration at some point in Iraq. However it's going to require taking control of the capital,” he said.

The revised spending bill will include a number of performance goals for the Iraqi government to target, and President Bush is supposed to make the first progress report to Congress on July 13.

Though the legislation threatens to withhold US financial assistance if the Iraqis fail to show certain economic, political, and economic progress, President Bush would have the right to waive those penalties, making the benchmarks non-binding.

"It's going to be hard work for this young government," he said. "After all, the Iraqis are recovering from decades of brutal dictatorship."

Non-binding Benchmarks for the Iraqi Government

Sec. 1330. The President shall transmit to the Congress a report in classified and unclassified form, on or before July 13, 2007, detailing--

(1) the progress the Government of Iraq has made in--

(A) giving the United States Armed Forces and Iraqi Security Forces the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias;

(B) delivering necessary Iraqi Security Forces for Baghdad and protecting such Forces from political interference;

(C) intensifying efforts to build balanced security forces throughout Iraq that provide even-handed security for all Iraqis;

(D) ensuring that Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces;

(E) eliminating militia control of local security;

(F) establishing a strong militia disarmament program;

(G) ensuring fair and just enforcement of laws;

(H) establishing political, media, economic, and service committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan;

(I) eradicating safe havens;

(J) reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq; and

(K) ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi Parliament are protected; and

(2) whether the Government of Iraq has--

(A) enacted a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis;

(B) adopted legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections, taken steps to implement such legislation, and set a schedule to conduct provincial and local elections;

(C) reformed current laws governing the de-Baathification process to allow for more equitable treatment of individuals affected by such laws;

(D) amended the Constitution of Iraq consistent with the principles contained in article 137 of such Constitution; and

(E) allocated and begun expenditure of $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.

The Complete Bill: 110_hr2206.pdf

There a vast number of difference requests (including a different set of demands for accountability) in the March 20th version: HR_1591_RH.pdf

Eye on Congress
Compromise Retains Benchmarks, but President Can Waive Penalties
05/22/2007 4:07 PM ET
Win McNamee/Getty

The fight over the defense supplemental spending bill may be arriving at a final resolution, with word coming from Congressional Democrats on Tuesday that the compromise bill the President can hope to receive by Friday will not contain the timetable for withdrawal the White House had threatened to veto again.

NBC News says the deal is expected to be quite similar to a measure put forward by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., last week including 18 benchmarks on both political security and economic progress, with reports due from the Bush administration to Congress on July 15th and September 15th.

Sources told NBC the benchmarks will be tied to Iraqi reconstruction funds, but the president would be allowed to waive the benchmarks.

Reuters's sources referred to the compromise as a "$100 billion" war funding bill, but NBC says that several officials said the emerging compromise bill would cost about $120 billion, including several billion for Democratic domestic priorities such as disaster relief for Hurricane Katrina victims and farmers hurt by drought. According to CNN, the bill also would raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour from $5.15 per hour.

White House spokesman Tony Snow declined to comment on items that might be in the proposed bill in his afternoon press conference at the White House.

"I don't want to say yes or no to any of these things. I'm just going to say, 'No comment,'" Snow said.

Though it doesn't appear on the White House transcript, CNN reports an unidentified "senior administration official" added to Snow's on-the-record comments, "It is premature to say that the White House has agreed to any provisions of the Iraq funding bill."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to formally present the revised legislative proposal to her caucus late on Tuesday, though Senate Majority leader has said the language for the Senate version was still being finalized.

The Coalition
Anonymous Official Counteracts Reports New British PM Planning Iraq Pullout
05/22/2007 1:03 PM ET
Incoming British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
PETER BYRNE/AFP/Getty Images
Incoming British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Moving to suppress speculation that the imminent changeover in UK leadership portends a shift in British policy towards the Iraq war, an American official asserted this week that the US expects the new regime to maintain continuity with Blair's policies.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told reporters on Monday that Washington had an "excellent level of discussion and dialogue" with the British government on future policy in Iraq, according to a report by the Associated Press.

"We believe there will be continuity within the UK government over the approach to Iraq and Afghanistan," the official said.

"No, I would not look at any precipitate, unilateral or sudden departure here. We do not believe we can afford to leave Iraq," the official said.

The US official's comments contradict reports that emerged over the weekend indicating that Gordon Brown was planning a "grand gesture" on Iraq policy, which would include an accelerated withdrawal of British troops.

The Coalition
Blair Says He "Believes" Gordon Brown Will Sustain Close Relations
05/17/2007 2:55 PM ET
WASHINGTON - MAY 17: British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) listens as U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House May 17, 2007 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty
WASHINGTON - MAY 17: British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) listens as U.S. President George W. Bush speaks at a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House May 17, 2007 in Washington, DC.

The transition of power to Gordon Brown--slated to take over as British prime minister on June 27--should not affect the close US-UK relationship, outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters in a Rose Garden press conference with President Bush on Thursday.

"I believe that we will remain a staunch and steadfast ally in the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere," adding later that, "I believe (Gordon Brown will) make a great Prime Minister. And I know he believes in the relationship with America, too."

As Blair explained," It's not about us remaining true to the course that we've set out because of the alliance with America. It is about us remaining steadfast because what we are fighting."

Tony Blair has been under intense criticism for his close relationship with the United States, and it has become a pervasive belief that his support of the US strategy in Iraq led to the demise of his political career.

When asked by a British journalist if he believes himself partly to blame for Blair stepping down from his position as prime minister, the President first joked, "I haven't polled the Labour conference, but could be," before hedging his answer, "The question is, am I to blame for his leaving? I don't know."

Eye on Congress
Resolution Pledges to Provide Troops Needed Resources
05/17/2007 2:06 PM ET
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (2nd L) holds a news conference with other Democratic leaders, including (L-R) Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI), to discuss Iraq war funding.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (2nd L) holds a news conference with other Democratic leaders, including (L-R) Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI), to discuss Iraq war funding.

The Senate voted 94-1 on Thursday to pass an interim spending measure articulating a pledge to provide troops with needed resources, but light on the specifics of what that means.

The passage of the measure paves the way for the House and the Senate to work out a compromise bill for the President's signature by Memorial Day.

White House chief of staff Josh Bolten met with Senate leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Harry Reid (D-NV) after the vote Thursday to discuss the next step for the legislation.

Speaking to reporters at the White House Thursday, Bush said Bolten is his negotiator and that, "We fully understand the need to have benchmarks in a bill. I accept and respect the members' desire to have benchmarks -- after all, I'm the person who laid them out initially. We will work through something we can all live with, and enable us to get the job done."

The Latest
Top Rice Aide Reiterates Claim that Cleric Fled Iraq
05/11/2007 2:12 PM ET
State Department Senior Adviser and Coordinator for Iraq David Satterfield testifies on Capitol Hill on March 27.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty.
State Department Senior Adviser and Coordinator for Iraq David Satterfield testifies on Capitol Hill on March 27.
A high-level US State Department official has reiterated the US claim that Muqtada al-Sadr, one of the most powerful men in Iraqi society, is residing in Iran.

US officials know for certain that the young Shi'a cleric is in the neighboring country, according to David Satterfield, senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Iraq, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Juxtaposing "thinking" and "knowing," Satterfield said, "We know he's out of the country, we don't think," adding, "He's in Iran, which is where he has been since mid-January," the AP writes.

"I can't speculate on why Muqtada al-Sadr has chosen to reside in Iran," Satterfield said. "I can only note the political circumstances."

Satterfield did not offer new evidence of Sadr's whereabouts.

Sadr aides insist that Sadr is in Iraq, and Iran has denied that the cleric is in its territory.

The US maintains that Sadr slipped out of the county during preparations for the Baghdad security plan, which is now approaching the end of its third month.

DC Buzz
GOP Leaders Tell Bush They're Behind Him Until Fall, Bush Agrees to Benchmarks
05/10/2007 4:21 PM ET
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty

The GOP fissure that IraqSlogger predicted earlier this week has apparently come to full fruition, as reports emerge that Republican leaders met with Bush at the White House on Tuesday, reportedly to tell him that things must improve in Iraq if he expects to maintain their unqualified support.

A group of 11 "moderate" Republicans met with Bush on Tuesday, reportedly telling the president that the three-month-old "surge" must show progress by September, when Gen. David Petraeus is scheduled to present a progress report to Congress, or risk losing GOP support.

A GOP House aide told CNN that the meeting was a "proactive step" by the White House to meet with lawmakers who had reservations about Bush's troop increase in Iraq to make sure they would not support a new Democratic proposal that would finance the Iraq war in stages.

Illinois Republican Rep. Ray LaHood, who was among 11 moderate Republicans who met privately with Bush at the White House on Tuesday, recounted the meeting for CNN:

"Members really told the president, in I think the most unvarnished way that they possibly could, that things have got to change, that we're going to hang with him until September, but we need an honest assessment in September and people's patience is running very, very, very thin," LaHood said.

LaHood explained his political position as being designed to represent American voters, saying, "The American people are war-fatigued. The American people want to know that there's a way out. The American people want to know that we're having success."

LaHood also said he would reevaluate his position at the end of the summer, stating that his continuing support for the war “depends on what says.”

CNN reports that another source who attended the White House meeting said that one of the lawmakers also told Bush that Petraeus should be the one to provide updates about progress in Iraq because the administration's credibility is diminished.

CBS reports that Bush was told that the war is unsustainable without public support and is having a corrosive effect on the GOP's political fortunes.

Congressman Charles Dent says he told the president that his Pennsylvania constituents are "impatient, and in some cases have a sense of futility" about the war.

Virginia Republican Tom Davis says he told the president that recent polling data from his suburban Washington district shows Bush's unfavorability ratings exceeded his approval ratings.

"We asked them what's Plan B," said Davis. "We let them know that the status quo is not acceptable."

Davis told CBS Radio affiliate WTOP, "Members are saying, you know, 'My constituents don’t care if we lose this war, they want out of this at this point,' and just giving him the public mood."

"The president listened, he was engaged," Davis said. "This was not what I'd call a 'suck-up' session."

However, Davis also said the president responded that if he began discussing a new strategy, his current one never would have a chance to succeed.

White House spokesman Tony Snow, who attended the meeting, said "everybody was completely candid" in telling Bush about deep frustration in the Republican Party about the situation in Iraq.

Perhaps reflecting that he'd heard the message delivered on Tuesday, on Thursday Bush announced that he would favor the impostion of benchmarks,

"One message I have heard from people from both parties is that the idea of benchmarks makes sense. And I agree," Bush told reporters after meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. "It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward."

Other administration officials at the meeting included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the president's chief political adviser, Karl Rove.

Other members of Congress known to have been present on the Tuesday meeting include Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania, Todd Platt of Pennsylvania, Jim Walsh of New York and Wayne Gilchrist of Maryland.

DC Buzz
Still Threatening Veto of Deadlines Designed to Pressure Iraqi Performance
05/10/2007 3:22 PM ET
ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 10: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks after a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon May 10, 2007 in Arlington, Virginia.
Mark Wilson/Getty
ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 10: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks after a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon May 10, 2007 in Arlington, Virginia.

President Bush on Thursday re-asserted his intent to veto the bill currently under discussion in the House, which would immediately release half of the defense spending budget, but retain the second half for release after the Iraqi government has shown progress.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty in funding when it comes to two-month cycles, so we reject that idea,” Mr. Bush told reporters during a Pentagon press conference. “I’ll veto the bill if it’s this haphazard, piecemeal funding — and I’ve made that clear.”

However, Bush also indicated that he would support the inclusion of benchmarks in the bill--something members of both parties have pushed.

"One message I have heard from people from both parties is that the idea of benchmarks makes sense. And I agree," Bush told reporters after meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. "It makes sense to have benchmarks as a part of our discussion on how to go forward."

The president said his chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten, would try to “find common ground on benchmarks” for the Iraqi government in his negotiations with lawmakers.

Bush specifically mentioned the passage of Iraqi legislation to share oil revenues, the future division of power in Iraq, and the opening of some government jobs to former members of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein as items requiring attention.

Despite the President's rhetorical support of benchmarks, he insists the performance of the Iraq government not be tied to any punitive consequence for failure to achieve the stated goals.

The Bush Administration, most notably through Dick Cheney's surprise trip to Iraq, is pressuring Maliki's government to move swiftly on a number of long-pending measures, including legislation to share Iraq's oil wealth, to hold provincial elections and to update the constitution.

Under the current bill under discussion in the House, which Pelosi has scheduled for a vote late Thursday, Congress would vote again in July to release an additional $52.8 billion after Bush provides assessments of the war. Congress then could decide to use the second batch of money for more combat or to begin withdrawing troops.

In the view of the Democrats, withholding some funds now could pressure the Iraqis to work harder to stabilize their country.

DC Buzz
Tony Snow Says New Revision Still Has Restrictions, Extra Spending Items
05/09/2007 10:19 AM ET
Alex Wong/AFP/Getty

The House hasn't even voted on a revised measure for the defense spending supplemental bill yet, but the President must not like what he has been hearing about the Democrats' new ideas.

White House spokesperson Tony Snow told the press pool aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that the President would veto the measure currently under discussion, according to Reuters.

"There are restrictions on funding and there are also some of the spending items that were mentioned in the first veto message that are still in the bill," Tony Snow told reporters.

Asked whether Bush would veto the bill in its current form, Snow said: "Yes."

House Democratic leaders are preparing a bill that would fund the Iraq war through July and then give Congress the option of cutting off those funds if there had not been concrete improvements in the security situation.

Under the bill, which could reach the House floor as early as this week, Congress would release just half of the $95 billion in war funding requested by President Bush. It would then vote in July on whether to approve the rest of the sum, based on its assessment of the President's troop surge and progress in reconstruction and reconciliation efforts

U.S. Politics
Draft Legislation Would Let Congress Cut Off War Funds in 60 Days
By SANDRA HERNANDEZ 05/08/2007 5:39 PM ET
Win McNamee/Getty

House Democratic leaders are preparing to present party members with a bill that would fund the Iraq war through July and then give Congress the option of cutting off those funds if there had not been concrete improvements in the security situation.

Under the bill, which could reach the House floor as early as this week, Congress would release just half of the $95 billion in war funding requested by President Bush. It would then vote in July on whether to approve the rest of the sum, based on its assessment of the President's troop surge and progress in reconstruction and reconciliation efforts, UPI reports.

President Bush last week vetoed a Democrat-backed war spending bill calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops by October 2007 and making continued funding conditional on various performance benchmarks. By limiting the funding horizon to July, Democratic lawmakers seem to be pushing for even more stringent terms than those in the vetoed bill.

Congressional Republicans derided the new proposal, saying that it neglected American troops.

Democrats "should not treat our men and women in uniform like they are children who are getting a monthly allowance," said Rep. John Boehner, the Republican leader, according to the AP.

Rep. Adam Putnam, R-FL, said of the bill: "It's an irresponsible approach. You do not fund wars 60 days at a time." White House spokesman Tony Snow called it "just bad management," saying it compromised the military's ability to make "long-term decisions in trying to build the mission."

David Rogers outlines the bill in the Wall Street Journal, writing: "Military personnel and operations accounts would get about 50% of the administration's request, and increased funds are provided for defense health programs and production of high-priority armored vehicles. The remaining 55%, or about $53 billion, would be withheld pending the second vote ."

Some Senate Democrats also questioned the bill, casting doubt on its prospects in the Senate. "There's the question of why it wasn't fully funded," said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, added, "It's not anything that will fly in the Senate," according to Congress Daily.

The proposed bill and its predecessor, vetoed by President Bush last week, reflect the difficult compromises at work among House Democrats, who vary widely in their approaches toward Iraq war funding. While some Democrats oppose funding the war altogether, others are loathe to squeeze financial support for U.S. troops.

The Bush Plan
Republican Congress Expects Surge to Show Progress by Fall, or Else
By CHRISTINA DAVIDSON 05/07/2007 1:09 PM ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

Ambassador Ryan Crocker recently described the surge as a strategy designed to "buy time" for the Maliki government to make political progress, but the domestic effect may have been for Bush to buy time with his own party.

The GOP has thus far presented a fairly unified front standing behind President Bush in rejecting Democratic pressure to establish a schedule to withdraw troops from Iraq, but some recent public comments by Republican members of Congress indicate there may be an expiration date on unqualified support.

The Administration mantra in rejecting Democratic activism has been to argue that Petraeus deserves the chance to allow the surge to work. The full complement of additional troops should arrive in Baghdad by mid-June, and the General has committed to return to Washington in late September to give a full progress report to Congress.

This weekend, House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH) indicated that the party will expect Bush to offer a new strategy if the report does not show the troop surge is improving the security situation.

"Over the course of the next three months or four months, we'll have some idea how well the plan is working," Boehner told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "Early signs are indicating there is clearly some success on a number of fronts. But...by the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B?"

His response came after Wallace read him a statement from fellow Republican Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), a stalwart supporter of Bush, who recently said, "Republicans are going to give Bush an opportunity, but if it isn't working in September, a lot of members will be very nervous."

Appearing on CNN's "Late Edition" Sunday, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) voiced support of Boehner's position but qualified it by adding that US military would maintain a presence in Iraq for a long time, even if the American government made a shift in strategy.

"I think the congressman is correct," Lugar said. "Gen. Petraeus will be back. He'll make a report. Some things will go well. Some things will not go so well, but we'll still have an obligation."

The liberal blog ThinkProgress today posted an array of recent quotes by GOP lawmakers that they contend shows "conservatives in Congress are breaking ranks," though not all of the cited Republicans could be considered from the conservative wing.

ThinkProgress does cite Rep. Mike Castle (DE), a moderate himself, who recently offered his assessment of the general party outlook.

“I think a lot of us feel that the time has come for us to look for solutions to bring this war to a close,” Castle said. “And I don’t think that’s just a feeling among moderate Republicans but among Republicans in general.” Castle said Republicans of all stripes “are very reluctant to put in dates on our Army” but said that other ideas, including Blunt’s talk of a “consequences package” for the Iraqi government, could bring the parties together.

Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA), who has opposed a timeline for withdrawal but supported benchmarks for performance, told the LA Times last week, “We have to be engaged developing our own proposals and not just going along with what the executive branch is doing.”

Stay Tuned
Dem Leaders Keep Quiet About Exact Plans for Alteration
05/02/2007 5:21 PM ET
WASHINGTON - MAY 02: U.S. President George W. Bush (2nd R) speaks as he meets with congressional leaders House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (L), Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (2nd L) and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) at the Cabinet Room of the White House.
Pool/Getty
WASHINGTON - MAY 02: U.S. President George W. Bush (2nd R) speaks as he meets with congressional leaders House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (L), Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (2nd L) and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) at the Cabinet Room of the White House.

The House failed to vote an override of the President's veto of the defense supplemental spending bill on Wednesday, missing the required two-thirds majority with a count of 223-203.

Following the vote, Congressional leaders made their way to the White House for a meeting with the president, emerging to speak to waiting reporters a half-hour later effusive in their mentions of "cooperation," but tight-lipped with regard to what form the compromise legislation might take.

While not weighing in on the critical question of whether or not the timeline for withdrawal would be removed from the legislation, Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed her party's intent: "Make no mistake--Democrats are committed to ending this war, and we hope to do so in unison with the president of the United States."

House majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that he hopes the House will be able to negotiate and pass a revised bill within two weeks, with a final bill ready for the president's signature before the Memorial Day recess.

"We're not going to leave our troops in harm's way...without the resources they need," he pledged. Hoyer also noted that the revised bill should fund combat operations through the end of September, as the President has request, raising doubts about support for Rep. John Murtha's proposed measure to fund troops two or three months at a time.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY) said that he and Reid would meet with White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten tomorrow "to see if we can begin to work out the way forward." McConnell also named Memorial Day as the target date for the next iteration of the spending bill.

In his letter to Congress returning the vetoed bill to Capital Hill for reconsideration, the President raised the stakes of the current political confrontation by offering a justification that hasn't enjoyed prominence in Administration talking points as of late--the constitutional issues involved in Congress exercising control over war powers.

According to Bush, "This legislation is unconstitutional because it purports to direct the conduct of the operations of the war in a way that infringes upon the powers vested in the Presidency by the Constitution, including as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got personal in firing back at the charge: "For him to talk about something being unconstitutional, that's a little unusual, and I don't want to get into the other things that have been done with this administration which have clearly been unconstitutional."

DC Buzz
Bush Rejects Bill, Prepares to Address the Nation This Evening
05/01/2007 6:08 PM ET
WASHINGTON - MAY 01: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) holds a box containing the Iraq Supplemental conference report after a signing ceremony with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Speaker's office in the US Capitol May 1, 2007 i
Getty
WASHINGTON - MAY 01: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (R) holds a box containing the Iraq Supplemental conference report after a signing ceremony with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Speaker's office in the US Capitol May 1, 2007 i

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Harry Reid performed a piece of political theater at the Capitol today, sitting amidst flashing bulbs during a the formal signing of of the controversial defense supplemental bill.

As expected, Bush has already confirmed his veto of the bill and has announced that he will address the nation at 6:10 this evening.

The White House has also invited Congressional leaders to the meet with the President tomorrow to discuss the way forward. House Democratic leaders plan to attempt another vote on on Wednesday, but it's unlikely they will get the two-thirds needed to override the veto.

Transcript
Flashback: May 1, 2003 Aboard USS Abraham Lincoln
05/01/2007 2:46 PM ET
USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, AT SEA: (FILE) A file photo dated 01 May 2003 shows US President George W. Bush addressing the nation aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln 01 May 2003, as it sails for Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, CA.
Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty
USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, AT SEA: (FILE) A file photo dated 01 May 2003 shows US President George W. Bush addressing the nation aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln 01 May 2003, as it sails for Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, CA.

Thank you all very much. Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USS Abraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. (Applause.) And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.

In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud of this accomplishment -- yet, it is you, the members of the United States military, who achieved it. Your courage, your willingness to face danger for your country and for each other, made this day possible. Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free. (Applause.)

Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combination of precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect, and the world had not seen before. From distant bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missiles that could destroy an enemy division, or strike a single bunker. Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostile ground, in one of the swiftest advances of heavy arms in history. You have shown the world the skill and the might of the American Armed Forces.

This nation thanks all the members of our coalition who joined in a noble cause. We thank the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland, who shared in the hardships of war. We thank all the citizens of Iraq who welcomed our troops and joined in the liberation of their own country. And tonight, I have a special word for Secretary Rumsfeld, for General Franks, and for all the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States: America is grateful for a job well done. (Applause.)

The character of our military through history -- the daring of Normandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima, the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies -- is fully present in this generation. When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength and kindness and goodwill. When I look at the members of the United States military, I see the best of our country, and I'm honored to be your Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)

In the images of falling statues, we have witnessed the arrival of a new era. For a hundred of years of war, culminating in the nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed to inflict casualties on an ever-growing scale. In defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Allied forces destroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflict were safe until the final days. Military power was used to end a regime by breaking a nation.

Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent. (Applause.)

In the images of celebrating Iraqis, we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear. (Applause.)

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. (Applause.)

The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq. (Applause.)

The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on. That terrible morning, 19 evil men -- the shock troops of a hateful ideology -- gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, that September the 11th would be the "beginning of the end of America." By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists and their allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolve, and force our retreat from the world. They have failed. (Applause.)

In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, many terrorists, and the camps where they trained. We continue to help the Afghan people lay roads, restore hospitals, and educate all of their children. Yet we also have dangerous work to complete. As I speak, a Special Operations task force, led by the 82nd Airborne, is on the trail of the terrorists and those who seek to undermine the free government of Afghanistan. America and our coalition will finish what we have begun. (Applause.)

From Pakistan to the Philippines to the Horn of Africa, we are hunting down al Qaeda killers. Nineteen months ago, I pledged that the terrorists would not escape the patient justice of the United States. And as of tonight, nearly one-half of al Qaeda's senior operatives have been captured or killed. (Applause.)

The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda, and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. (Applause.)

In these 19 months that changed the world, our actions have been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. We have not forgotten the victims of September the 11th -- the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble. With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got. (Applause.)

Our war against terror is proceeding according to principles that I have made clear to all: Any person involved in committing or planning terrorist attacks against the American people becomes an enemy of this country, and a target of American justice. (Applause.)

Any person, organization, or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and equally guilty of terrorist crimes.

Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world -- and will be confronted. (Applause.)

And anyone in the world, including the Arab world, who works and sacrifices for freedom has a loyal friend in the United States of America. (Applause.)

Our commitment to liberty is America's tradition -- declared at our founding; affirmed in Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms; asserted in the Truman Doctrine and in Ronald Reagan's challenge to an evil empire. We are committed to freedom in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in a peaceful Palestine. The advance of freedom is the surest strategy to undermine the appeal of terror in the world. Where freedom takes hold, hatred gives way to hope. When freedom takes hold, men and women turn to the peaceful pursuit of a better life. American values and American interests lead in the same direction: We stand for human liberty. (Applause.)

The United States upholds these principles of security and freedom in many ways -- with all the tools of diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence, and finance. We're working with a broad coalition of nations that understand the threat and our shared responsibility to meet it. The use of force has been -- and remains -- our last resort. Yet all can know, friend and foe alike, that our nation has a mission: We will answer threats to our security, and we will defend the peace. (Applause.)

Our mission continues. Al Qaeda is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Our government has taken unprecedented measures to defend the homeland. And we will continue to hunt down the enemy before he can strike. (Applause.)

The war on terror is not over; yet it is not endless. We do not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning of the tide. No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken our resolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost. Free nations will press on to victory. (Applause.)

Other nations in history have fought in foreign lands and remained to occupy and exploit. Americans, following a battle, want nothing more than to return home. And that is your direction tonight. (Applause.) After service in the Afghan -- and Iraqi theaters of war -- after 100,000 miles, on the longest carrier deployment in recent history, you are homeward bound. (Applause.) Some of you will see new family members for the first time -- 150 babies were born while their fathers were on the Lincoln. Your families are proud of you, and your nation will welcome you. (Applause.)

We are mindful, as well, that some good men and women are not making the journey home. One of those who fell, Corporal Jason Mileo, spoke to his parents five days before his death. Jason's father said, "He called us from the center of Baghdad, not to brag, but to tell us he loved us. Our son was a soldier."

Every name, every life is a loss to our military, to our nation, and to the loved ones who grieve. There's no homecoming for these families. Yet we pray, in God's time, their reunion will come.

Those we lost were last seen on duty. Their final act on this Earth was to fight a great evil and bring liberty to others. All of you -- all in this generation of our military -- have taken up the highest calling of history. You're defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope -- a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, 'come out,' -- and to those in darkness, 'be free.'"

Thank you for serving our country and our cause. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless America. (Applause.)

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