Washington President Bush warned Tuesday that some American soldiers might have to stay longer in Iraq if Congress does not quickly deliver a war spending bill that he can sign, and he lashed out at Democratic leaders as "irresponsible" and accused them of making the war "a political dance."
With Congress in its spring recess, the president slammed the Democrats on a war-funding bill that he pledges to veto because it includes timelines for withdrawals of U.S. troops from Iraq. It was the latest salvo in an escalating battle as both sides gird for a standoff that could echo the 1995 shutdown of the federal government.
Bush's offensive followed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's warning that he will press for a cutoff of all war funding in March 2008 if the president rejects congressional timelines for withdrawal.
Bush warned during a Rose Garden news conference that a prolonged standoff over the war-spending bill could jeopardize the delivery of equipment to troops on the front line and delay the training of new soldiers, in turn forcing troops already deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to serve longer stints there.
"In a time of war, it's irresponsible for the Democrat leadership in ... Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds," said Bush, counting his 57th day since delivering a war-spending request to Congress.
Yet, while calling on Congress to "come off their vacation" and quickly tackle "emergency" war needs, the president was heading to his Texas ranch on Wednesday for a spring retreat of his own through Easter Sunday.
Democrats remain unbowed by Bush's criticism. They plan to send the president a supplemental spending bill to fund the war in Iraq and Afghanistan once they resolve differences between the House and the Senate, and they expect a veto over the withdrawal timelines.