On the November 29 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, congressional correspondent Ed Henry reported that President Bush "ripp[ed] into Democrats for dragging their feet" on passing legislation to provide emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that Bush "essentially declar[ed] that American lives now are at risk because the Pentagon is trying to stop what he called 'another day of destruction right here in America' -- a terror attack." Henry went on to note that congressional Democrats "have been pushing a plan ... that would give the president about $50 billion in war funding, but with a catch -- that he would have to agree to bring most U.S. troops home from Iraq by December 2008." Yet Henry did not mention that House Democrats -- beyond simply "pushing" such a plan -- recently passed a $50 billion war funding bill that included the redeployment provision, which Senate Republicans then successfully blocked on November 16. By contrast, in their reports on Bush's criticism of Congress for not passing war funding legislation, The Washington Post and The New York Times noted that the Republicans blocked the $50 billion war funding bill in the Senate.
Reporting Bush's attack on Congress in a November 30 article, the Post added that "[c]ongressional Democrats blame Bush for the delay because he refuses to accept a $50 billion funding bill that includes a requirement to begin pulling combat troops out of Iraq" and that "[t]he House passed the bill earlier this month, but Republicans blocked it in the Senate":
President Bush warned Congress yesterday that the Pentagon will soon have to start laying off civilian employees and reducing operations at U.S. military bases unless lawmakers send him an emergency war funding bill that does not mandate troop withdrawals from Iraq.
Escalating a dispute with Democratic lawmakers over his request for $196 billion in supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush complained that a delay in providing the money is jeopardizing important military efforts.
Congressional Democrats blame Bush for the delay because he refuses to accept a $50 billion funding bill that includes a requirement to begin pulling combat troops out of Iraq and changing the U.S. military mission there. The House passed the bill earlier this month, but Republicans blocked it in the Senate.
The $50 billion package passed by the House Nov. 14 would have funded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next four months. But Senate Republicans blocked it -- and the White House threatened a veto -- because it would have required the administration to begin pulling U.S. combat forces out of Iraq within 30 days of enactment, with a goal of ending U.S. combat operations there by Dec. 15, 2008.
In a similar November 30 report, the Times noted that "[t]he president's Republican allies in the Senate stalled" the $50 billion war funding bill:
President Bush on Thursday began a new offensive against Congressional Democrats over money for the Iraq war, calling on the lawmakers to give American troops "what they need to succeed in their missions" and pass a bill without strings attached.
"The American people expect us to work together to support our troops," Mr. Bush said at the Pentagon after meeting with top Defense Department officials. "They do not want the government to create needless uncertainty for those defending our country, and uncertainty for their families. They do not want disputes in Washington to undermine our troops in Iraq, just as they're seeing clear signs of success."
The last time the money issue flared up, just over a week ago, the Democrats accused the administration of using scare tactics to try to get its way on the money bill. A bill approved recently by the House would provide $50 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns -- but would call for pulling American troops out of Iraq by the end of 2008 and narrowing their mission in the meantime. The president's Republican allies in the Senate stalled the bill in that chamber.
From the November 29 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
WOLF BLITZER (host): President Bush today demanded that congressional Democrats approve Iraq war funding without strings and without delay. He says the U.S. military has been waiting for the money for months and could soon face harm as a result.
Let's go live to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry.
He's watching this for us -- so what's behind this very stern warning we heard one hour ago, Ed, from the president?
HENRY: It's frustration, Wolf. The president ripping into Democrats for dragging their feet on this budget, essentially declaring that American lives now are at risk because the Pentagon is trying to stop what he called "another day of destruction right here in America" -- a terror attack.
Democrats have been pushing a plan, as you know, that would give the president about $50 billion in war funding, but with a catch -- that he would have to agree to bring most U.S. troops home from Iraq by December 2008. Mr. Bush said it's time to give him the money without strings, saying Defense Secretary Robert Gates can only shift money around Pentagon accounts for so long and soon he's going to have to start laying off civilian employees at the Pentagon and freezing contracts.
BUSH [video clip]: Pentagon officials have warned Congress that the continued delay in funding our troops will soon begin to have a damaging impact on the operations of this department. The warning has been laid out for the United States Congress to hear.
HENRY: Now, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid [NV] fired back that if the president really wants to get the money to the troops, he should sign a bill giving them funds with a timetable to come home, re-declaring, quote, "Bush Republicans have indefinitely committed our military to a civil war that has taken a tremendous toll on our troops." Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Henry at the White House.