WASHINGTON – Anti-war lawmakers in Congress are "undermining" U.S. troops in Iraq by trying to limit President Bush's spending requests for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday.
Hitting out at lawmakers who profess to back the troops but oppose Bush's plans in Iraq, Cheney said proof of their commitment would come as they consider legislation to provide nearly $100 billion for the rest of this year's costs of the wars.
The House plans to begin considering a bill this week that would fully finance the administration's request. Senate action is expected to come later.
"When members of Congress pursue an anti-war strategy that's been called 'slow bleed,' they are not supporting the troops, they are undermining them," Cheney said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
"Anyone can say they support the troops and we should take them at their word, but the proof will come when it's time to provide the money," he said.
House Democratic leaders want to add provisions to the war spending measure requiring the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by the end of August 2008 and possibly by the end of 2007. Some anti-war Democrats prefer limiting the funds so the administration would essentially be forced to remove U.S. forces, a strategy that party leaders have abandoned.
"We expect the House and Senate to meet the needs of our military and the generals leading the troops in battle on time and in full measure," Cheney said.
"When members speak not of victory but of time limits, deadlines and other arbitrary measures, they are telling the enemy simply to watch the clock and wait us out," he said.
Cheney said the House's nonbinding vote against troop increases in Iraq last month was an example of "twisted logic" and "not a proud episode in the history of the United States Congress."
Cheney added, "Very soon, both houses will have to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding, a bill to provide emergency funding to the troops, and I sincerely hope that this time, the discussion this time will be about winning in Iraq."
Speaking before a packed crowd at the Washington Convention Center, Cheney said it was one of several disturbing "myths" that one could support the troops and at the same time not give them what their commanders say they need to win.
Other myths are that Iraq is not central to the war on terrorism and that withdrawing from Iraq would somehow help the war on terrorism, the vice president said.
Cheney warned that terrorists would continue to attack the United States and its friends if they saw them retreating in the face of continued deadly insurgent attacks.