WORLD / America
US Congress OKs billions for the Iraq war(AP)
Updated: 2007-05-25 09:01
Democrats also won a top priority - the first minimum wage increase in more than a decade. The current federal wage floor of $5.15 an hour will go to $7.25 in three separate installments of 70 cents.
Reflecting unhappiness among conservatives in his own party, Bush said he would have preferred less domestic spending than the bill contained. "But, still, by voting for this bill members of both parties can show our troops and the Iraqis and the enemy that our country will support our servicemen and women in harm's way," he said at a Rose Garden news conference.
One of the most vocal war critics in Congress readily agreed. "This is not a game. They run out of money next week," said Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, whose speech opposing Bush's Iraq policy more than a year ago was a turning point in the debate.
Bush ordered the deployment of an additional five brigades to Iraq in January to try and quell sectarian violence, and he said summer would be critical to the fate of the new strategy.
Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, has pledged to report to the administration and Congress in September on the progress made in the war, and Bush conceded that al-Qaida terrorists and illegal militias will make sure there is heavy fighting in the interim to try and sap the will of the United States.
"And so, yes, it could be a bloody - it could be a very difficult August," he said.
He said he wants to see American troops "in a different configuration at some point in time in Iraq." He said that meant moving from mostly combat to training, border security and special forces anti-terror operations.
"However," Bush said, "it's going to require taking control" of Baghdad.
With a new poll showing that 80 percent of self-described independents oppose the war, it was unclear how long Bush could fend off his Democratic critics in Congress - or even count on Republicans to hold firm.
"It seems to me it's time for them (Iraqi troops) to show what is their ability and professionalism to step up," said Sen. John Warner , R-Va. He said if conditions do not improve by mid-July, the president should reconsider his strategy.