Monday, May 07, 2007

Democrats stand firm on Iraq troop withdrawal

Democrats stand firm on Iraq troop withdrawal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic congressional leaders said on Sunday they would "shake the White House" to pressure President George W. Bush to get U.S. troops out of Iraq as they seek a new war-funding bill to replace the one Bush vetoed.

Democrats on Sunday's political talk shows pursued a theme that the United States should not be the referee in Iraq's civil war and showed no sign of giving ground on troop withdrawals.

"This is the American people's fight. They asked us to send a message to the president," New York Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" program. "... We've got to shake that White House until the people of the United States are heard."

With the Iraq war helping drag Bush's approval rating to an all-time low of 28 percent, according to a Newsweek magazine poll, he must work with the Democratic-controlled Congress on a war finance bill. He rejected a $124 billion bill last week because it set specific dates for troop withdrawals.

New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, appearing on CNN's "Late Edition," said Democrats and Republicans were "not that close" to reaching a compromise on a funding bill but said there were encouraging signs.


Rangel said the House would not let up on Bush until the United States was out of Iraq.

"We hope that he would be sophisticated enough to come up with an international solution," he said. "But the people that elected us said, bring our troops home. Enough is enough ... There is no victory in sight. It's a civil war and we don't have the wherewithal to resolve that major problem."

Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a Democratic candidate for president, said he remained committed to legislation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, both Democrats, that sets a firm timetable for pulling out all U.S. troops by March 31, 2008, but would consider other options if that fails.

House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, a Republican, said he favored benchmark goals to measure the progress of the Iraqi government as a gauge for removing U.S. forces.

"I'm for benchmarks that are for success," he said on Fox. "I'm not for benchmarks with artificial timelines, yanking funds, trying to ensure that there's failure in Iraq."

Boehner said it was too early to give up on Bush's plan, especially since all the 30,000 additional troops he ordered to Iraq have not been deployed.

"We want this plan to have a chance of success," he said. "Over the course of the next three months or four months, we'll have some idea how well the plan is working."