COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) said Thursday that support among the American people for President Bush's policy in Iraq is declining but he expects it to rebound.
"When lives are lost, people start to wonder about it, and it is reflected in the polls," Powell told a news conference during a stop in Denmark (search), a steadfast U.S. ally in military operations. Yet, he added, "The American people fully understand the value of what we are doing."
In the latest CBS News-New York Times poll, 47 percent of those surveyed said taking military action in Iraq was the right thing to do, while 46 percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. Only a month ago, 58 percent said the military action was right, and 37 percent said it was not.
A second poll indicated that Iraqis -- while still glad about Saddam Hussein's (search) ouster -- are growing increasingly dismayed with the U.S. occupation. Some 57 percent of Iraqis said they would prefer to see U.S. troops leave in the next few months, rather than stay longer, according to a CNN-USA Today-Gallup nationwide poll.
In Washington, worries about the war's costs drew close attention Thursday.
Some lawmakers are discussing providing money on a contingency basis that could go to the Pentagon for Iraq should it run out of money while Congress is adjourned at the end of this year, said Rep. Jerry Lewis (search), chairman of the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
Lawmakers have talked about "emergency money we would control" that congressional leaders could release if needed, said Lewis, R-Calif. He would not provide a figure, but said it would be less than $50 billion.
Congress could adjourn for the year in October and might not return until January. It usually takes weeks for lawmakers to approve major spending legislation.
"In this volatile circumstance in the Middle East, who knows what might occur," Lewis told reporters. He said a "hole" could occur in the Pentagon's budget. "We don't want to be away when there's a cliff out there, potentially."
At a hearing on Capitol Hill, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said the State Department, in order to set up a new embassy in Baghdad, probably will run $40 to $60 million short in its budget by year's end.
The Pentagon has said it will have a cash shortfall by late summer although both agencies said they could shuffle money within their budgets to keep operations going.
Armitage said the Bush administration at this point plans to seek a supplemental spending bill for the war in January, but not before.
In Denmark, Powell's insistence that the United States and its allies must remain in Iraq drew an instant endorsement from Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller.
"We reiterated our intention to stay until the job is done," Moeller said.
Appearing with Powell at a news conference, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he told Powell that many in Europe "are seriously concerned about Iraq and the recent developments in the Middle East.
"There is a feeling that European views are not always taken into account. At the same time it is my strong impression from talks with European colleagues that Europe is ready to look at that, to overcome past disagreements," Fogh Rasmussen said.
Denmark's defense minister resigned last Friday amid criticism that the military had exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam to justify going to war in the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq.
Denmark's decision to keep some 500 troops in Iraq countered somewhat the defection of Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
Meeting with students at Frederiksberg High School, Powell, referring to his own role leading up to the war, said that as a Cabinet officer, he provides "all points of view" and that Bush "is wise enough and strong enough to listen to all viewpoints."
Ketan Singla, 18, asked why the United States did not try "nonviolent policy to solve problems instead of sending troops to war in Iraq."
"No one is more committed to finding diplomatic solutions," Powell answered.