US President George W. Bush and Congress are wrestling for the upper hand on the Iraq war debate, with neither side willing to back down and a top Democrat saying for the first time he wants to stop money for combat.
Bush was expected to speak yesterday to reporters at the White House on Iraq war funding a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would try to eliminate funding for the war if Bush rejects Congress' proposal to set a deadline to end combat.
The House and Senate are preparing to send Bush a bill by the end of the month that would approve of some US$96 billion in new money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also set an end date to combat in Iraq. Bush has promised to veto the legislation.
If Bush "continues to resist changing course in Iraq, I will work to ensure this legislation receives a vote in the Senate in the next work period," Reid said in a statement on Monday. The Senate is in recess for one week.
Reid's proposal would be the most extreme measure to be considered by Democrats to try to force Bush's hand on the war. It is also a divisive one.
Most Republicans and many conservative Democratic senators, including Ben Nelson of Nebraska, have been reluctant to embrace a timetable in Iraq. Nelson agreed last week to swing behind the Senate spending bill, which calls for troops to leave by March 31, next year, only because the date was nonbinding and not a firm deadline.
Nelson also agreed to vote for the measure because Reid added language Nelson wanted outlining steps the Iraqi government should take to improve stability in Iraq.
Senators Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon were the only Republicans who supported the measure.
Reid's promise marks a new shift in strategy for Democrats. Reid was previously reluctant to embrace the suggestion of using Congress' power of the purse and deflected questions on the matter by saying Democrats would provide troops with what they need to be safe.
His latest proposal would give the president one year to get troops out, ending funding for combat operations after March 31, next year, and allowing troops to conduct only counterterrorism operations, train Iraqi forces and provide security for US infrastructure and personnel.
This latest challenge indicates Reid is likely both frustrated by Bush's stubborn insistence on the war and his own shaky majority in Congress. Unable to override a presidential veto because he lacks the necessary two-thirds majority support, Reid is trying to increase the pressure on Bush in the hopes he will cave.
While Bush has remained steadfast in his insistence to keep US troops inside Iraq in large numbers, he does so without the blessing of voters. Six in 10 Americans say they favor a timetable to remove all troops within six months, and the number grows to 71 percent if all troops are removed within two years, according to a recent poll.
But threatening to cut off money for the troops makes Democrats a target for criticisms that they have turned their backs on the military -- a charge administration officials and Vice President Dick Cheney made on Monday.
"Standing with the troops means getting them the money that they need now," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around