As veto stays, Bush seeks compromise on Iraq funding
May 3, 2007 - 9:32:11 AM

Washington, May 3 - US President George W. Bush and Congressional leaders met at the White House to find common ground for a new bill over war funding in Iraq that also includes a timeframe for withdrawing US troops.

'I'm confident that we can reach agreement on a new spending bill,' Bush said Wednesday.

He said that Tuesday, when he vetoed the bill, 'was a day that highlighted differences' and Wednesday was 'a day where we can work together to find common ground'.

Describing the meeting as 'very positive,' Democrats, however, did not concede from their position on the war.

'We made our position clear; he made his position clear,' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the bill vetoed by Bush was representative of the wishes of the American people. 'And we're going to keep that in mind as we go through these negotiations -,' he said.

Earlier Wednesday, the House failed to override Bush's veto of the $124 billion bill, which would require the Bush administration to start withdrawing US troops from Iraq by Oct 1.

The Democratic-led Congress sent Bush the bill on Monday, the fourth anniversary of his 'Mission Accomplished' speech, in which he declared on May 1, 2003, that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.

The war, however, has dragged on, and has claimed the lives of over 3,300 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis, and has become increasingly unpopular with the American public.

A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in April found that 57 percent of those surveyed now felt the Iraq war was a mistake, against 41 percent who said it was not.

News reports said Democrats, anticipating Bush's veto, had begun crafting a new bill, which strips the troop withdrawal language and adds a series of benchmarks that would measure the progress of the Iraqi government.

The big question facing legislators and the White House is whether to require consequences if the benchmarks are not met. Democrats and some Republicans support consequences, while the White House fiercely opposes them.

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