White House Says President Will Veto Iraq Withdrawal Timetable


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will veto a defense appropriations bill now being debated on the Senate floor if lawmakers include an amendment setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, the White House said Tuesday.

Senate Democratic leaders have said they plan to bring forward an amendment from Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., that calls for beginning a redeployment of U.S. troops in as little as four months, to be completed by next spring. House Democratic leaders announced late Tuesday that they would bring a similar proposal to a vote by the end of the week.

But in a policy statement issued Tuesday by the Office of Management and Budget, the White House said the proposed Reed-Levin amendment infringed on Bush's authority as commander-in-chief and was "equivalent to setting a date for failure." "If the president were presented a bill that includes such provisions, he would veto the bill," the statement said.

Senate Democrats are trying to attach the withdrawal timetable to the appropriations bill that funds the Defense Department for fiscal year 2008. However, to overcome procedural hurdles in the Senate, the Reed-Levin amendment would likely need backing from at least 10 Republicans, and, despite recent cracks in GOP solidarity on the Iraq war, it is unclear whether the proposal would draw enough GOP votes.

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