The lack of a funding plan for the U.S. military in Iraq because of disagreements between Congress and the White House over who is making decisions for the campaign already is creating hardships for U.S. military service members, according to a White House spokeswoman.
Dana Perino was responding to a question of Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, on a day when President Bush met with leaders of Congress on the issue.
“How long does the president believe it will be before the lack of a funding plan for the military in Iraq starts costing lives,” Kinsolving asked.
“Let me just say that the Department of Defense has said that this is creating hardships for the military to do its job. They need the resources now,” she said.
Perino had said the troops “desperately need the money,” which has been held up by the decision in Congress to not yet produce a bill providing for that funding.
The two plans generated by the House and Senate also have included a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq, a condition President Bush has promised to veto because it would simply tell terrorists how long they would need to wait before the troops opposing them would be gone.
“We also look forward to [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi appointing conferees so that … the two Houses can get their differences worked out and send a bill to the president’s desk.
“The president will veto a bill that handcuffs our generals, that includes arbitrary dates for withdrawal, or needless and wast[ful] spending,” Perino said. “It’s been 72 days since the president first sent up his request for this money, and the longer that Speaker Pelosi delays in appointing conferees, the worse it gets for our troops.”
The conflict is a symptom of the underlying disagreement between Congress and the White House over the war. Democrats in Congress believe they were voted into the majority in 2006 on marching orders from the public to end the war; the president’s perspective is that he is commander-in-chief and will make the necessary decisions in a way that protects the American public the most.
“The president has said he will not accept a bill that has an artificial timetable – time line, deadline for withdrawal, a forced retreat, a legislative failure for our troops. He’s not going to do that for our troops, and he’s not going to do it to the Iraqis, or for the region, and for the safety of the American public,” Perino said.
“The Democrats have said that they will not vote to cut off funding for the troops. And yet, they can’t come to an agreement amongst themselves as to how to get a clean bill to the president,” she said.
“The Department of Defense has articulated the measures that they’d have to take because they don’t have the money, and those have been well laid out… And they said that this is very difficult for the troop. … And it’s really unfortunate that the political debate is getting in the way of allowing the troops to have what they need.”
A second question from Kinsolving reflected some of the issues generating from the Virginia Tech shootings on Monday.
“What does the president think of the gun control rule which prohibited guns on the campus of Virginia Tech?” he asked. Thirty-two people were murdered by an attacker who did bring two handguns onto campus.
“I haven’t spoken to him about that specifically. I do know as governor he supported weapons-free school zones,” she said. She added later that those zones involved grade schools and high schools, and she couldn’t speak to his position regarding colleges.
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