Congress to keep pressure on Bush to bring troops home

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(Host) “Keep the pressure on President Bush to bring the troops home from Iraq.”

That’s the consensus opinion of Vermont’s Congressional delegation, following the President’s veto of legislation calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq over the next 12 months.

The U.S. House voted this afternoon to sustain the president’s veto.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The big question facing Democratic leaders in Congress is what to do next following the president’s veto of legislation providing roughly $123 billion for the war in Iraq. The president says he vetoed the bill because it included a timeframe for the withdrawal of troops.

Some members want Congress to send the president another bill with the same timetable. Some members want to support a short term funding bill that would force the president to come back in several months to seek additional funds while others are considering a spending bill that would include benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet.

Congressman Peter Welch says this is a time for the Democrats to stand firm to bring the war to an end:

(Welch) “My view as a new member of Congress is that whatever next step we take has to include keeping the pressure on. We simply can’t give the president a blank check. We’ve got to have some kind of timetable so that the Iraqis know that the patience of the American people – how much we’re going to expect from our soldiers and our taxpayers has its limits.”

(Kinzel) Senator Bernie Sanders says he won’t support a new spending bill unless it includes specific provisions to bring U.S. troops home.

(Sanders) “My view is that the Congress has got to be as strong as it possibly can be, to say that we’ve got to bring our troops home as soon as possible. We cannot continue to fund endlessly month after month, year after year a war which is costing us so much in lives in money and lack of respect around the world.”

(Kinzel) Senator Patrick Leahy says Democratic leaders are reviewing several different options.

Leahy says the Democrats are trying to reflect the views of the American people – something he says President Bush should try to do.

(Leahy) “If he did, he’d know the American people want us by an overwhelming majority, want us to wrap up the war in Iraq, turn it over to the Iraqis, stop spending hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars plus the brave men and women who are dying there every day. They’d like to bring our soldiers back to where they can be safe.”

(Kinzel) Leahy says Democratic leaders hope to work with several Republican senators in an effort to force the Bush Administration to rethink its policies in Iraq.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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