The fierce debate in Washington over funding U.S. troops in Iraq continues. Meanwhile, a car bomb attack has killed 17 people and wounded 26 near a health clinic and mosque south of Baghdad, U.S. military announced 10 soldier deaths, and multi-national forces report the capture of a senior al-Qaida leader linked to deadly vehicle bombings, as well as two other suspects, during a raid in Baghdad. VOA's Michael Bowman reports.
One week before the Pentagon says it will run short of money to continue military operations in Iraq, a stand-off continues between the White House and the opposition-controlled Congress over funding for the troops.
Democrats, like the Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, Carl Levin, want to provide the money, but with a major condition attached.
"We are not going to vote to cut [off] funding, period. But what we should do, and what we are going to do, is continue to press the president to put some pressure on the Iraqi leaders to reach a political settlement," he said.
Levin spoke on ABC's This Week television program.
Both houses of the Democratically-controlled Congress have passed emergency spending bills that provide money to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but set dates for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. President Bush says he will veto any bill that sets a timetable for a troop pullout, which he maintains would assure defeat in Iraq and embolden terrorists across the globe.
"For our troops, the clock is ticking. If the Democrats continue to insist on making a political statement, they should send me their bill as soon as possible," said Mr. Bush, repeating the message in his weekly radio address Saturday. "I will veto it, and then Congress can go to work on a good bill that gives our troops the funds they need, without strings and without further delay."
But Democrats, like New York Senator Charles Schumer, are standing firm.
"The President's view is [that] the only way you can support the troops is [to] do exactly what he wants," he said. "That is not what we will do. Should he veto this bill, which means that he will be vetoing the money for the troops, we will try to come up with a way that both supports the troops and yet changes the [U.S.] strategy in Iraq."
Some Democratic leaders have gone even further in responding to the presidential veto threat, pressing for legislation that would actually stop funding most forms of military operations in Iraq.
But that would be a mistake, according to many Republicans, as well as independent-Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman:
"The fact is, we are there [in Iraq], and unless one decides there is no hope of victory and therefore we should just pick up and get out, it would be a disaster not to try to win this. And why? Because if we lose it [Iraq], this will become a base for al-Qaida, the same al-Qaida that attacked us, that began the war on terrorism," he said.
The United States is bolstering its military presence in Baghdad and one of Iraq's violence-wracked provinces. U.S. military officials as well as President Bush say the troop surge is showing some early signs of curbing civil strife in Iraq, an assertion contested by many Democrats.