WASHINGTON — The Bush administration on Thursday rejected the idea of setting a date for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, a proposal that's being introduced as legislation by two Republicans and two Democrats.
Those troops must “complete the mission” before coming home, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters, and there's no timetable for that.
“The way to honor the service of our men and women in uniform is to complete the mission,” he said.
McClellan said President Bush intends to “sharpen his focus” on Iraq, hosting Iraq’s prime minister at the White House next week, and then making a speech marking the anniversary of Iraq regaining its sovereignty.
First bipartisan call
In Congress, two Republicans and two Democrats in the House were introducing a resolution Thursday calling for withdrawal to start by Oct. 1, 2006. It is the first such resolution put forth by lawmakers from both parties, although an overwhelming number of Democrats and six House Republicans voted in 2002 against sending troops to Iraq.
While many Democrats and some Republicans repeatedly have voted against continued funding for the war, there has been no concerted joint effort before to bring troops home.
A low-water mark of 41 percent of adults said in an Associated Press-Ipsos poll this month that they supported Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. And a Gallup poll released Monday found that six in 10 Americans say they think the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq.
Car bombings and attacks by insurgents killed 80 U.S. troops and more than 700 Iraqis last month. Pentagon officials acknowledge the level of violence is about the same as a year ago.
One GOP sponsor voted for war
Among the resolution's sponsors are Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican who voted for the Iraq war but now says the United States has done what it can in Iraq and the reason for going to war — Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction — has been proven false.
Two years ago, Jones helped lead an effort to ensure Capitol Hill cafeterias retooled their menus to advertise "freedom fries" instead of french fries to protest France's opposition to the war.
The other resolution sponsors are Ron Paul, a Republican from Texas who voted against the war, and two Democrats who've opposed it, Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii.
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