White House rejects timetable concessions

Bush talks of compromise, but his negotiators give up nothing.

Published May 18, 2007 6:30PM (EDT)

The president keeps saying that he's optimistic his negotiators can reach a deal on Iraq war funding "we can all live with." Translation: Give me exactly what I want, and you'll have to live with that.

Democratic leaders from the House and Senate met with the White House negotiating team today and offered a series of concessions on the Iraq funding bill -- remove the "pork" the president has been decrying and make it clear that he has the right to waive the troop-withdrawal timetable Congress has approved. The White House negotiators said no. "Whether waivable or not, timelines send exactly the wrong signal to our adversaries, to our allies and, most importantly, to the troops in the field," White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told reporters afterward.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who learned just before the meeting started that another one of his constituents has been killed while serving in Iraq, said it was an "understatement" to call the session a disappointment. "We, the people's body, the Congress, are speaking for the American people," Reid said. "The American people want our troops to come home. The American people expect the president to respond to some basic things, like a timeline, like to make sure there's troop readiness. And the answer we got time after time in the meeting we had this morning is that the president would take no responsibility."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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George W. Bush Harry Reid Iraq War War Room