March 25th, 2007 11:43 EST
Spending Bill Without Deployment Restrictions Says Bush
President Bush yesterday urged Congress to send him an emergency war-spending bill that funds overseas troop operations, but contains no deployment restrictions or deadlines for a withdrawal of forces from Iraq.
“One of the most urgent legislative priorities is to fund our troops fighting the war on terror,” Bush said during his weekly national radio address. “I’ve asked Congress to pass an emergency war spending bill that gives our troops what they need, without strings and without delay.”
The Defense Department’s emergency fiscal 2007 supplemental requests includes $93.4 billion to help fund U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the global war on terror. The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a defense funding bill that includes some domestic spending measures and requires U.S. combat troops to depart Iraq by Aug. 31, 2008.
The House war-spending bill “would cut the number of troops below the level our military commanders say they need to accomplish the mission,” Bush pointed out. “It would set an artificial timetable for withdrawal that would allow the enemy to wait us out.”
And, military deployment restrictions outlined in the House bill “would take an army of lawyers” to sort out, the president said.
The president has been adamant that he would not support such legislation.
“I have made it clear that I will veto any such bill, and it is clear that my veto would be sustained,” Bush said, noting time is running short for Congress to send him a favorable bill.
If the supplemental funding bill is not passed by April 15, the Army will be compelled to consider curtailing and suspending training for Reserve and National Guard units, slow up training of units scheduled to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, and possibly cut funding for the upgrade and renovation of barracks and other facilities, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told reporters during a March 22 news conference at the Pentagon.
“This kind of disruption to key programs will have a genuinely adverse effect on the readiness of the Army and quality of life for soldiers and their families,” Gates said at the news conference.
Bush concurred with Gates’ assessment, noting that implementation of the U.S. House of Representatives’ war spending bill in its present form would hurt the military.
“Our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions – and so will their families,” the president said.
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service