(CNSNews.com) - Democrats clearly hope President Bush will carry through on his threat to veto an emergency war funding bill because it includes a timeline for troop withdrawals.
And if Bush does veto it, "he will be the one who has failed to provide our troops and our veterans with the resources they need," Democratic leaders warned on Monday.
Democrats are now putting the final touches on a $124 billion bill that would force the Bush administration to start pulling troops out of Iraq by Oct. 1.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the legislation "rejects the president's failed policies in Iraq and his open-ended commitment to keep American troops there indefinitely and forges a new direction for a responsible end to the war."
Their news release emphasizes Democratic "responsibility."
And it says President Bush should listen to his own defense secretary, who "understands the value of timelines in motivating the Iraqi government" to accomplish political reconciliation.
On his recent trip to the Middle East, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. commitment to Iraq was "long-term," but not open-ended. He said Iraq's political progress and reconciliation will be taken into account when the United States evaluates troop levels this summer.
"It is now up to the President to make a decision: continue to stay his failed course or join us to give our troops a strategy for success," Pelosi and Reid said.
Leave it to the generals, Bush says
For his part, President Bush urged Congress not to "micromanage" the process.
"An artificial timetable of withdrawal would say to an enemy, 'Just wait them out,'" Bush said on Monday. "It would say to the Iraqis, 'Don't do hard things necessary to achieve our objectives,' and it would be discouraging for our troops."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has urged Democrats to "take out the surrender date, take out the pork, and send [the bill] to the President for his signature as soon as possible."
He said it's dangerous to set deadlines: "This latest proposal mandates that, no matter how well the Iraqi government meets its benchmarks and no matter how well our troops succeed in Iraq, the surrender must begin no later than October 1st.
"That sends absolutely the wrong message to al-Qaeda, our allies in the region, and our forces in the field."
When Bush does veto the bill, the political "showdown" will end, but the recriminations will continue. Democrats are expected to make the most of Bush's refusal to change course in Iraq. Republicans will blast Democrats for being armchair generals.
Eventually, lawmakers are expected to draft legislation that gives troops the funding they need -- without withdrawal dates.
Both sides agree there aren't enough votes to override the president's veto.
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