Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reid Compares Iraq War To Vietnam in White House Meeting

The confrontation between Congress and President Bush over the funding of the war continued yesterday.

But it looks like Bush will get his supplemental appropriation when the politics finish playing out. The Democrats simply don't have the votes to override a presidential veto.

After weeks of acrimonious sparring over financing the next phase of the war, President Bush and Congressional leaders softened their tone on Wednesday but failed to resolve their differences over a timeline for removing most American combat troops from Iraq next year.

Mr. Bush met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the White House for nearly an hour, the first face-to-face discussion since the House and Senate passed emergency Iraq spending bills last month with provisions to end the war. Democrats said they would send the president legislation by the end of next week, despite his pledge to veto it. ...

The White House, though, said Mr. Bush had no intention of signing any legislation that included a call for a troop withdrawal. Democrats do not have enough support to override a veto, so the debate over financing the troops remains at an impasse.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said, "The president, obviously, as you already know, is not going to accept language that specifies a date for surrender or language that micromanages the efforts of our military in Iraq."

The discussions took place on one of the deadliest days of the year in Baghdad, where at least 171 people were killed in bombings. Democrats said the violence underscored the urgency of finding a new direction in Iraq, one that did not place American troops in the middle of a civil war.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Bush declared, "People have strong opinions around the table and I’m looking forward to listening to them." And for the next hour, according to participants and aides in the room, a frank conversation unfolded between the president and the 10 legislative leaders seated around the table in the Cabinet Room.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may not get invited back to the White House by President Bush anytime soon:

Several officials said the session was polite. But they said it turned pointed when Reid recounted a conversation with generals who likened Iraq to Vietnam and described it as a war in which the president refused to change course despite knowing victory was impossible. Bush bristled at the comparison, according to several officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private. One quoted him as saying, "I reject" the comparison.

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