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Vermont congressional delegation chides Bush on expected veto

WASHINGTON — Congress on Thursday sent to Pres. George W. Bush’s desk a supplemental appropriations bill that includes a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Vermont’s entire congressional delegation – Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent, and Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat – supported the Iraq withdrawal timetable provisions and voted for the bills.

The House approved the bill on Wednesday. Delegation members released the following comments after the Senate approved the bill on Thursday.

“Pres. Bush’s open-ended escalation keeps our troops in the middle of Iraq’s bloody civil war. Policing the widening sectarian violence there threatens our troops as well as our security interests. Instead we should begin bringing our troops home, and the president will compound his disastrous handling of this war if he vetoes this bill and its redeployment timetables. I hope he will reconsider, but I do not expect that he will,” said Leahy.

Leahy, along with Sen. Kit Bond, R-MO, worked to add $1 billion into the bill to help fund the National Guard’s equipment backlogs and improve their readiness for domestic emergencies.

Sanders said that Bush misled the country into war and the public wants a change in course, and this legislation provides it.

“The president misled our country into the war and we have paid a terrible price. The American people have made it abundantly clear that they want a change of policy in Iraq, but the President continues to give us more of the same,” said Sanders. “It is absolutely appropriate that Congress use the budget process to bring our troops home, and to develop a very different approach to combating international terrorism.”

Welch added that Bush should listen to the will of Congress, and the public, on this issue.

“Congress will not stand by while this President continues to stubbornly cling to a failed policy. The American people want this war to end and they want this Administration held accountable,” said Welch. “Pres. Bush should listen to the will of the American people, sign this bill as soon as he gets it, and begin the process of ending this unconscionable war.”

Posted April 30, 2007

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