WASHINGTON – Resurrecting Democrats' earlier efforts to begin bringing troops home from Iraq, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she would tie troop reduction requirements to President Bush's emergency war spending request.
But instead of the full $196 billion that Bush has requested to pay for war costs for — which is in addition to the annual Defense Department requests — Pelosi, D-Calif., said she is proposing only giving the administration about one-quarter of the request, or $50 billion. The money would finance about four months of combat in Iraq.
The bill would start to draw down troops immediately, with the goal of having most troops home by December 2008. After that, troops left behind should be restricted to a narrow sets of missions, namely counterterrorism, training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. assets.
Bush rejected a similar measure in May, and Democrats lacked the votes to override the veto.
It also would reintroduce another Democratic priority from earlier this year, requiring soldiers and Marines to spend as much time at home as they do in combat — a requirement that the Pentagon has said is too restrictive on generals trying to conduct an ongoing war.
"This war is the biggest ethical issue we're facing in our country. ... This is not working. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. We must reverse it," Pelosi said, adding that she planned to end Bush's believe that Congress is his "ATM" for Iraq.
Pelosi said the bill also will target the controversy over torture, adding new restrictions on how interrogations would take place in the field.
Pelosi said she expected to begin consideration of the bill on Friday.
The plan outlined by Pelosi will likely meet heavy opposition from House and Senate Republicans, who have been reluctant to place restrictions like withdrawal timetables on the military. House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio on Thursday denounced the plan.
"This plan we're hearing about to handcuff our generals and starve our troops is ill-advised. We are succeeding in Iraq. There is already a plan to allow many of our troops to come home. It's hard to speed it up," Boehner told reporters.
"Congress will not handcuff our troops," he added.
Since taking control of Congress in January, Democrats have struggled to challenge the president on the war. Holding a shaky majority, they lack the votes to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate or override a presidential veto.
Republicans also would likely oppose applying Defense Department interrogation standards government-wide because it would limit the CIA's use of aggressive techniques against high-value terrorism suspects.
On Thursday, the House and Senate were on track to approve $460 billion in annual military spending, as well as a stopgap funding measure to keep the rest of the government running through mid-December.
Without the $50 billion for combat operations, the Defense Department would have to transfer money from less urgent spending accounts to keep the wars afloat.
Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, the top Republican on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, predicts the Army would run out of money entirely by January if Congress does not approve some war money.
FOX News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.