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Congress, Bush move toward war showdown

first_imgSeveral blocks away, the president stood with Republican House members and told reporters they were united. “We expect there to be no strings on our commanders, and … we expect the Congress to be wise about how they spend the people’s money,” he said. In private, Bush was at least as emphatic, according to GOP rank-and-file participants in a closed-door session with the president in the White House East Room. “He said he will veto a bill that comes to his desk with too many strings attached or too much spending,” said one official who attended and later spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed to the press. While both sides have spoken positively about a need for compromise, there also has been strong political pressure within both parties for a veto fight. Democrats are under pressure to challenge Bush on the war after their victories in last fall’s elections. At the same time, Republicans say Bush will blame anti-war lawmakers if money begins to run short for the troops in the field and will accuse them in any event for ceding ground to the terrorists in the Middle East. Pace fears delays WASHINGTON – A defiant, Democratic-controlled Senate approved legislation Thursday calling for the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq within a year, propelling Congress closer to an epic, wartime veto confrontation with President George W. Bush. The 51-47 vote was largely along party lines, and like House passage of a separate, more sweeping challenge to the administration’s war policies a week ago, fell far short of the two-thirds margin needed to overturn the president’s threatened veto. It came not long after Bush and House Republicans made a show of unity at the White House. “With passage of this bill, the Senate sends a clear message to the president that we must take the war in Iraq in a new direction. Setting a goal for getting most of our troops out of Iraq is not – not, not – cutting and running,” said Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., shortly before the vote. Passage cleared the way for negotiations on a compromise with the House. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky rebutted quickly. “Nothing good can come from this bill,” he said. “It’s loaded with pork that has no relation to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it includes a deadline for evacuation that amounts to sending a `Save the date’ card to al-Qaida.” Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Defense Appropriations Committee during the day that a delay in funding would have a chain reaction that could keep units in Iraq longer than planned. He said if the bill is not passed by May 15, the Army would have to cut back on reserve training and equipment repairs, which could possibly delay the formation of units needed to relieve those deployed. The House-passed measure requires the withdrawal of combat troops by Sept. 1, 2008. The Senate bill calls for the beginning of a withdrawal within 120 days, and it sets a nonbinding goal of March 2008 for its completion. Both bills contain more than $90 billion for the military to continue operations in Afghanistan as well as Iraq, where more than 3,200 U.S. troops have lost their lives in four years of combat. Money for domestic programs pushes the bills’ totals above $120 billion. It appeared more likely that House and Senate Democrats will have trouble in forging a compromise among themselves than that they will flinch from a confrontation with the White House. Mindful of the need to assure a flow of funds, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said Congress might consider passing monthlong spending bills while it challenges Bush over his war policy. There is a strong reluctance among the rank and file to approve money for the war without attaching conditions to force a change in policy, and lawmakers said that situation portended a House-Senate compromise that would include provisions Bush has rejected. “I don’t think the leadership will give in. I don’t think they can give in,” said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va. “We have very strong feelings among members. And the real strong push back would come from voters.” “I’m not willing not to have input,” said Murtha, who has emerged in the past year as one of the Democrats’ most vocal critics of the war. Nor is the war the only issue in dispute. Pork power Both bills contain in excess of $20 billion in domestic spending that the president wants stripped out, including large amounts for politically popular programs such as disaster aid to farmers and money for victims of the Katrina and Rita hurricanes. “I think we would be able to sustain a veto on that basis alone,” said Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, the second-ranking Republican. House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio addressed the same issue in the meeting with Bush. According to one participant, Boehner said there might be a perception among White House officials that the House would not sustain a veto based solely on spending. Boehner said he thought that fear is ungrounded, and the rank and file responded with a standing ovation, according to the participant. There was no suspense in the Senate’s vote after a test earlier this week in which Republicans had sought to strip out the nonbinding timeline for a troop withdrawal. There were 48 Democrats and two Republicans, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, voting for the measure, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent. Among the supporters, only Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., had voted to jettison the timeline earlier in the week. The votes in opposition were cast by 46 Republicans and Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent Democrat.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img
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Alaska News Nightly July 17 2014

first_imgIndividual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.Download AudioNASA Testing Arctic Sea Ice Monitoring Technology With High-Flying Ex-Spy PlaneDan Bross, KUAC – FairbanksNASA is piloting a mission out of Fairbanks with a specialized plane that can fly high enough to test technology destined for satellite applications.Report Investigates Coal Dust Hazards In SewardEllen Lockyer, KSKA – AnchorageAlaska Community Action on Toxics has issued a new report on the hazards of coal dust in Seward.  The organization is recommending further monitoring, but city officials deny that local air quality is poor.Musk Ox Killed After Attacking Sled DogZachariah Hughes, KNOM – NomeLiving with wildlife isn’t always easy, as a recent incident with a musk ox attack in Kotzebue makes clear.In Transition: When a Family of Five Calls One Room HomeLisa Phu, KTOO – JuneauJuneau charity organization St. Vincent de Paul has a record high number of people staying in its transitional housing shelter. Usually, around 55 people live in the 26 units. At the moment, there are 66 occupants, almost half are children.FERC Nominee Approved Despite Murkowski’s ObjectionPhillip Manning, KTNA – TalkeetnaOn Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm two members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  One of those nominations was approved over the outspoken objection of Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski.Earthquake Rattles Yakutat; Felt in Whitehorse; No Damage ReportedTim Ellis, KUAC – FairbanksA strong earthquake near the Canadian border rattled portions of Southern Alaska and the Yukon Territory just before 4 this morning.Skiing on Eagle Glacier Connects Alaska to the World Joaquin Palomino, KSKA – AnchorageIn most places, summer isn’t the best time to ski. But atop a mile-high glacier in Girdwood, elite skiers have converged from across the country and the world, to train.People Mover Teams Up With Google To Make Bus Route Planning EasierAnne Hillman, KSKA – AnchorageAnchorage’s People Mover bus system is trying to become more people, and tech, friendly. You can now use Google Maps to figure out your bus route.last_img read more