updated 5/7/2007 9:00:32 AM ET 2007-05-07T13:00:32

The House Republican leader said Sunday that GOP support could waver if President Bush's Iraq war policy does not succeed by the fall.

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House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Bush's troop increase deserves a chance and should be funded even if benchmarks for success are not met. Last week, Bush vetoed a $124 billion bill to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan operations in part because it required troops to begin returning home by Oct. 1.

A senior House Democrat said it would be "ridiculous" not to condition war money on progress in Iraq. Bush and his supporters say a fixed date is unworkable.

"We don't even have all of the 30,000 additional troops in Iraq yet, so we're supporting the president. We want this plan to have a chance of succeeding," Boehner said.

"Over the course of the next three to four months, we'll have some idea how well the plan's working. Early signs are indicating there is clearly some success on a number of fronts," he said.

But, he added, "By the time we get to September or October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B."

Iraq and 2008
Thus far, Republicans have stood behind the president's increasingly unpopular war policies, including the troop increase and an open-ended war commitment.

Yet Boehner's comments were an acknowledgment of the concern expressed by some lawmakers in private that their support could further damage the party, which lost control of Congress in the November elections.

Video: McCain on Iraq

The senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, said Boehner is correct.

"General Petraeus will be back. He'll make a report," Lugar said of Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. "Some things will go well. Some things will not go so well, but we'll still have an obligation."

Democratic efforts
The new Democratic leadership is pushing to begin pulling troops out of Iraq.

"It would be ridiculous to think that we're going to just drop this fight," said Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. "This is not our fight. This is the American people's fight. They asked us to send a message to the president."

"We've got to shake that White House until the people of the United States are heard," Rangel said. "Sure, we've got to have some restrictions on the money."

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, a Democratic presidential candidate, said congressional Republicans increasingly seem uneasy about Bush's policies.

"So we may disagree politically here, but remember where the American public is on this issue: They want a change. They think we're getting less secure, far more vulnerable today, than ever before, and they want a change in this policy," he said.

Iraq spending talks continue
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted, "the taste for continuing with the present course among Republicans in the Senate and the House is going to fade very quickly, and we will get the change in mission."

In a statement, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois said Boehner's concern "has less to do with the troops coming home, and has everything to do with his fear that House Republicans will be sent home."

Top White House aides are negotiating with Democratic leaders on a new war spending bill.

Another Democratic presidential candidate, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, argued against negotiating and said lawmakers should keep sending Bush the same Iraq spending bill.

"I think that America has asked the Democratic leadership in the Congress to stand firm, and that's exactly what I'm saying they should do," he said.

Edwards started airing a television commercial last week urging Congress to stand up to Bush and keep sending back the vetoed bill, which sparked a quarrel with Dodd.

"With all due respect, we could have used John's vote here in the Senate on these issues here," Dodd said.

Dodd and Boehner appeared on "Fox News Sunday," while Edwards was on "This Week" on ABC. Rangel spoke on "Face the Nation" on CBS while Lugar and Schumer were on "Late Edition" on CNN.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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