WASHINGTON President Bush, seeking to better his negotiating position ahead of votes on a huge Iraq war-funding bill, said Saturday that U.S. troops "deserve better" than the treatment they are getting from the Democratic-led Congress.
"This is an opportunity for Congress to give our men and women in uniform the tools they need to protect us, and Congress should approve these vital funds immediately," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Congress has had this funding request for more than a year, and there is no reason for further delay."
But the dispute over the hotly contested bill, and the delay in getting it passed, is as much as anything due to demands from Bush that Democrats find unacceptable.
The bill contains unrelated domestic spending beyond Bush's $178 billion war funding request, and the president has threatened a veto if it doesn't come out. Meanwhile, the White House wants to add money to the measure to let troops transfer ramped up GI Bill education benefits to their spouses or children.
Bush said delay in passage will have dire consequences, such as temporary layoffs of civilian employees next month and no more paychecks for troops after July.
"Our men and women in uniform and their families deserve better than this," the president said. " ... I often hear members of Congress say they oppose the war but still support the troops. Now they have a chance to prove it."