President Bush accused the Democratic-led Congress of wasting taxpayers’ time picking fights with the White House instead of resolving disputes over money for U.S. troops and the firings of the U.S. attorneys.
In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush called on Democratic leaders in Congress to move beyond political discord and take bipartisan action on both issues that have driven a wedge between the Bush administration and Capitol Hill.
He urged them to accept his offer to allow lawmakers to interview his advisers about the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors — but not under oath — and provide documents detailing communications they had about the firings with outside parties.
Democrats, armed with subpoenas for Bush’s top political adviser Karl Rove and other top aides, are pressing the White House to allow the advisers to answer questions under oath about the firing of eight federal prosecutors. Bush says the Democrats are simply playing politics, trying to create a media spectacle.
“Members of Congress now face a choice: whether they will waste time and provoke an unnecessary confrontation, or whether they will join us in working to do the people’s business,” Bush said. “We have many important issues before us. So we need to put partisan politics aside and come together to enact important legislation for the American people.”
The president also accused Democrats of partisanship in the House vote on Friday for a war spending bill that requires combat operations to cease before September 2008.
Democrats said it was time to heed the mandate of their election sweep last November, which gave them control of Congress. Passage marked their most brazen challenge yet to Bush on a war that has killed more than 3,200 troops and lost favor with the American public.
‘The clock is running’
Bush said the emergency spending bill the House narrowly passed, 218-212, would cut the number of troops below a level that U.S. military commanders say they need and set an artificial timetable for withdrawal.
“By choosing to make a political statement and passing a bill they know will never become law, the Democrats in Congress have only delayed the delivery of the vital funds and resources our troops need,” Bush said. “The clock is running. The Secretary of Defense has warned that if Congress does not approve the emergency funding for our troops by April 15, our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions — and so will their families.”
Vice President Dick Cheney also accused the Democrat-led House of not supporting troops in Iraq and of sending a message to terrorists that America will retreat in the face danger.
“They’re not supporting the troops. They’re undermining them,” Cheney told a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition at the oceanside Ritz-Carlton hotel Saturday in Manalapan, Fla., about 60 miles north of Miami.
Cheney called it a myth that “one can support the troops without giving them the tools and reinforcements they need to carry out their mission.”
The $124 billion House legislation would pay for war operations this year but would require that combat troops come home before September 2008 — or earlier if the Iraqi government did not meet certain requirements.
Bush said that to get the votes needed to pass the bill, House Democrats included billions of dollars in domestic and pork barrel spending for local congressional districts, including $74 million for peanut storage and $25 million for spinach growers, that has nothing to do with the war.
“Even with all this extra spending tacked on, the vote in the House was very close,” Bush said. “This means that the Democrats do not have enough votes to override my veto.”