WASHINGTON – President Bush plans to veto legislation to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today, but vowed to work with Democrats on the next step to craft a compromise supplemental spending bill that would be free of an Iraq pullout timetable.
"I made my position very clear, the Congress chose to ignore it, so I will veto the bill," Bush said in a press conference in the White House Rose Garden on Monday. "That's not to say that I'm not interested in their opinions — I am. I look forward to working with members of both parties to get a bill that doesn’t set artificial timetables and doesn't micromanage and get some money to our troops."
Senior White House officials told FOX News that Bush will veto the bill after he returns from a trip to Tampa, Fla., to visit the United States Central Command. The schedule is based on Congress delivering the legislation to his desk by then. The veto will not take place in a ceremony, but the president will make short remarks or release a statement.
Bush has repeatedly signaled his opposition to setting a timetable to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and the veto comes as no surprise to Democratic lawmakers and others who want to pull out of Iraq.
The bill imposes the judgment of lawmakers on military commanders on the ground in Iraq and attaches unrelated spending, Bush said in explaining his decision to veto. He said he's hopeful Democrats are still willing to find a compromise.
The bill would set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq either in July or beginning Oct. 1, depending on circumstances in Iraq, with a goal of completing the pullout in six months.
"There's a lot of Democrats that understand that we need to get the money to the troops, as soon as possible. I'm optimistic that we can get something done in a positive way," Bush said.
Bush's upcoming veto comes as Democrats plan their next strategic move. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Congress continues to pressure Bush to change course as conditions in Iraq deteriorate.
"This Congress stands firm with the American people. We are resolved to do what we can to see if the president will change course," Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor on Monday. "There is still time to sign this bill and change course in Iraq."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he has already met with Reid on how to move forward after Bush's veto.
"Hopefully we will find a way forward," said McConnell, R-Ky.
Other Business at the White House
During a joint press conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, current president of the European Union, Bush also publicly stated his support for World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who is being investigated for helping to arrange a contract to give a big salary increase to his female companion. Wolfowitz on Monday released a forceful letter stating that the bank's ethics commission cleared him to oversee girlfriend Shaha Riza's promotion.
“He ought to stay. He ought to be given a fair hearing. I appreciate the fact that he’s helped the World Bank recognize the eradication of world poverty is an important priority for the bank,” Bush said.
On another matter, Bush said that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might meet with Iranian diplomats later this week on the sidelines of a meeting in Egypt on Iraq.
"Should the foreign minister of Iran bump into Condi Rice, she will not be rude. She is not a rude person," Bush said. He called Iran "a significant threat to world peace today and in the future" because of its nuclear program, a topic that likely won't be broached at the meeting.
Bush said that the United States and the European Union are "united in sending this very clear message" to Iran. He said the U.S. and European leaders were unified in backing enforcement of U.N. resolutions on Iran to allow inspections of nuclear facilities.
In meeting with Barroso and Merkel, Bush said he's under no illusion how difficult it will be to restart the so-called Doha round of global trade-liberalization talks with developing countries.
The leaders also said they talked about climate change and agreed to take a united approach to find ways to lower pollution that causes global warming.
"We don't want isolate ourselves" from rest of world, Merkel said.
FOX News' Bret Baier and The Associated Press contributed to this report.