Under House pressure, Bush signals flexibility

Published May 11, 2007

WASHINGTON - The Democratic-controlled House voted Thursday night to pay for military operations in Iraq on an installment plan, defying President Bush's threat of a second straight veto in a fierce test of wills over the unpopular war.

The 221-205 vote, largely along party lines, sent the measure to a cool reception in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is seeking compromise with the White House and Republicans on a funding bill.

Under increasing political pressure from Republicans, Bush also signalled flexibility, offering to accept a spending bill that sets out standards for the Iraqi government to meet.

"Time's running out, because the longer we wait the more strain we're going to put on the military, " said the president, who previously insisted on what he termed a "clean" funding bill.

Bush and key lawmakers have stepped up expressions of frustration with the government in Baghdad in recent weeks, and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh spent his day in a series of meetings with key senators appealing for patience.

Despite Bush's ability to sustain his vetoes in Congress - the House upheld his rejection of a troop withdrawal timetable last week - Democrats called for votes on two bills Thursday that challenged him on the war.

"Democrats are not going to give the president a blank check for a war without end, " vowed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

The first measure would have required the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq within nine months. It fell, 255-171, with 59 Democrats joining almost all Republicans in opposition. Floridians voted along party lines.

Fast Facts:


Local lawmakers

The House voted 221-205 on Thursday to pay for military operations in Iraq in installments:

No: Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor; Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Brooksville; Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow; Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores; Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota

Yes: Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa