WASHINGTON – President Bush, ratcheting up a fight with Congress over Iraq, accused Democrats on Friday of conducting a political debate on the war while delaying action on money to upgrade equipment and give troops a pay raise.
"It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field, and give them everything they need to succeed," Bush said in the Rose Garden after meeting with a veterans and military families.
Bush spoke two days after Senate Republicans thwarted a Democratic proposal to pull out troops from Iraq. Bush said that instead of approving money for the war, "the Democratic leaders chose to have a political debate on a precipitous withdrawal of our troops from Iraq."
Meanwhile, the White House said it has not changed the timetable for assessing progress in Iraq and that September remains the next critical timeframe for judging the course of the war. A day earlier, a top general said a solid judgment may not come until November.
The officer, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, suggested Friday that his comments may have been misinterpreted. And yet another general, commanding in a province touted as a model of progress — said Friday it would take two years before Iraqis can be self-sufficient in running their government and security forces.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said that despite widespread skepticism in Congress, there have been significant results one month after the U.S. completed a buildup of 21,500 additional combat troops. He said the administration was not trying to move the goal posts for assessing the buildup, from September until November.