Tony Snow

The Democrat majority in the U.S. House may vote to “disapprove” of the decision to send more troops to Iraq, but that doesn’t change the responsibility of the president to make sure U.S. citizens are as safe as possible, his spokesman told WND. Nor does it prevent the president from delivering a message to Congress, too.

At a news briefing, Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, asked Tony Snow, the president’s spokesman, about the issue. “[U.S. House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi has said in no uncertain terms that Congress is sending a message to the president with its debate on the Iraq war. And could you tell us, what message is the president receiving.”

“We get lots of communications from Capitol Hill,” Snow said. “What the president understands is that the war is unpopular, and people don’t like the progress or lack of progress they saw in the latter stages of last year, where you had 100 American servicemen dying a month, and you had increased – much increased violence in Baghdad and the environs.

“That’s the reason why the president decided to act. So if the message is, aren’t you concerned about what’s going on, the answer is, you bet,” he continued.

But the president’s work doesn’t stop with “concern,” Snow said.

“And as a result, the president demanded an exhaustive review, not only to what was going on, but also of possible ways of addressing that, not merely to tamp down in violence in Baghdad proper, but to create conditions where the Iraqi government would have the ability to do all the associated things necessary to have a stable state, which includes political accommodation, economic growth, and so on. So the president gets that message.”

But the work still doesn’t end there, he said.

“But the president also understands that as commander-in-chief it is his job and his obligation to keep Americans safe, and also to support the people who are fighting there right now. The way forward is a matter of providing reinforcements to people on an entirely different kind of mission, where their hands are no longer tied by outmoded rules of engagement or political rules of engagement, but instead are going to be able, along with the Iraqis, to do the job,” Snow said. “So the message he is sending is that he has got a plan that is designed to secure victory, in terms of an Iraq that is able to stand up as a democracy and stand strong, and is willing and eager to move forward with that.”

In a vote yesterday morning, the U.S. House endorsed a statement that “Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush … to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq.” It got the support of 246 of the current 434 members, including 17 of 201 Republicans.

That, however, doesn’t mean Bush will be backtracking any time soon, Snow noted.

“What the president is insistent upon is that our forces have the funds they need and the flexibility required to continue to execute not only the Baghdad security plan, but the way forward that’s designed to secure the situation in Iraq,” he added.

“And, therefore, anything that is going to tie the hands of military commanders and deny both the funds and flexibility they’re going to need, he will take a dim view of,” Snow said. “But at this point, we’re just going to have to see what Congress proposes. I’m not going to get into particulars, because while a lot of stuff has been floated, nothing has yet been proposed or dropped in the hopper.”

At a news conference earlier in the week, Bush himself said he would “make it very clear to the members of Congress … they need to fund our troops.”

Congress will be debating and voting on budget allocations for the war on terror over coming days and weeks. Some Democrats have advocated cutting funds for the U.S. troops in Iraq, but others have been reluctant to take on the aftermath of what that might produce.

Kinsolving asked Snow a second question: “Can you recall any other case in American history where the United States Senate unanimously voted to approve a general to top command in a war zone and then passed a resolution opposing what that general has stated that he has been ordered to be there to do?”

The Senate earlier voted to approve to approve Gen. David Petraeus as the new U.S. military commander in Iraq, after he confirmed he recognizes as his assignment the formation and execution of a victory plan for the U.S.

But the Senate also has been attempting to consider a statement similar to the one made in the U.S. House regarding the no-confidence in the president’s plan.

“Les, I’m unaware of that, but I don’t want that to be definitive because I don’t have full knowledge,” Snow said.

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