By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
May 6, 2007 – Congress needs to provide the military with the funds and flexibility it needs to prevail to succeed in Iraq, President Bush said in his weekly radio address yesterday. Bush vetoed a supplemental war-funding bill May 1 because it contained deadlines for troop withdrawal and domestic spending unrelated to the war. A subsequent House vote to override the veto failed.
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the coalition's commander in Iraq, is still in the early stages of implementing a new strategy to help Iraq secure its capital so the Iraqi people can build a free nation that respects the rights of its people, upholds the rule of law, and fights extremists alongside the United States in the war on terror, Bush said.
This strategy wouldn't have had a chance to succeed had the president signed the emergency war-spending bill Congress submitted, the president said.
"I vetoed the bill Congress sent me because it set a fixed date to begin to pull out of Iraq, imposed unworkable conditions on our military commanders, and included billions of dollars in spending unrelated to the war," Bush said. "In this time of war, our elected officials have no higher responsibility than to provide these troops with the funds and flexibility they need to prevail."
To help speed that process, the president had what he described as a positive May 2 meeting with both parties' congressional leaders. As a result, he appointed three senior members of his White House staff - Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, and Budget Director Rob Portman - to negotiate with Congress on a bill acceptable to all interested parties.
"By working together, I believe we can pass a good bill quickly and give our troops the resources and flexibility they need," he said.
Failure to pass such a bill would have dire consequences, Bush said.
Pulling troops out of the region before the Iraqi government can defend itself would create a security vacuum, Bush said. Radicals and terrorists would rush to fill the void created and gain control of a nation with massive oil reserves, which they could use to spread their influence, he added.
"They would be emboldened by their victory, protected by their new sanctuary, eager to impose their hateful vision on surrounding countries, and eager to harm Americans," he said. "No responsible leader in Washington has an interest in letting that happen.
"We must provide our men and women in uniform with the resources and support they deserve," he said, calling on Congress to work with his administration to quickly draft what he called a "responsible war-spending bill."
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