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Bush Vetoes Iraq Exit Bill, His First Veto of the Year

After Congress passed an Iraq spending bill for $124 billion, with a timetable for pullout of overseas troops, last week, it reached President Bush's desk on Tuesday. He vetoed the bill, only the second of his presidency and the first of this year.

In a televised speech, he called the bill a "prescription for chaos and confusion," and said he had to veto the bill due to the timetable element.

According to a New York Times article that was printed in both the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press: "Democrats concede they do not have enough votes to override the veto. But, speaking in the Capitol shortly after Mr. Bush’s remarks, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi of California, and the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said they would not be deterred from pushing the president as hard as they could to bring the troops home.

“If the president thinks by vetoing this bill he will stop us from working to change the direction of the war in Iraq, he is mistaken,? Mr. Reid said. He added, “Now he has an obligation to explain his plan to responsibly end this war.?

The fight has been brewing for nearly three months, ever since Mr. Bush sent Congress his request for emergency financing for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including money to support his troop buildup. The next chapter begins Wednesday, when Congressional leaders are expected to meet Mr. Bush at the White House to open negotiations on a new bill. They are expected to look for ways to preserve the benchmarks for Iraqi progress that were included in the initial bill while eliminating the timetables for troop withdrawal that Mr. Bush has emphatically rejected."

Continuing ... "The veto, announced by Mr. Bush at 6:10 p.m., just before the network news broadcasts began, was quickly seized on by Democratic groups.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a group financed, in part, through labor union money, presented a television advertisement criticizing the White House and Congressional Republicans. The group also planned a series of rallies across the country. In the Capitol, several Democrats and Republicans said they were eager to find common ground on the Iraq spending bill and bring an end to the bitter fight.

“Unfortunately, people are getting locked down in their respective positions,? said Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican of Maine. “The White House wants to have open-ended latitude on how to conduct a war, but I don’t think that is simply an option at this point.?