The Democratic-controlled House is expected to give final approval Wednesday to an omnibus spending bill that includes $70 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, ending a monthslong impasse between Congress and the White House.
The bill, which the White House says it's ready to sign, combines all domestic federal spending and ends talk of a possible government shutdown.
The bill the House sent the Senate included $30 billion for the war in Afghanistan, but nothing for Iraq. Minority leader Mitch McConnell proposed replacing the House war funding with $70 billion for both Iraq and Afghanistan.
McConnell said the president had made it absolutely clear that the amendment was necessary to get a presidential signature.
That did not stop Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold from trying to attach a binding requirement that most U.S. troops be out of Iraq a year from now.
"It is up to us here in Congress to reverse what continues to be an intractable policy," Feingold said. "It is our job to listen to the American people, to save American lives, and to protect our nation's security by redeploying our troops from Iraq, because the president will not do it."
Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy pointed out that President Bush insisted on cutting back an array of social spending in the omnibus.
"It's wrong to neglect priorities like these at home, pour hundreds of billions of dollars into the black hole the Iraq war has become. It's wrong to give the president another huge blank check for the war in Iraq. Enough is enough," Kennedy said.
But the president's allies themselves had had enough — of the repeated failed attempts this year by Democrats to attach strings to war funding.
Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd and Hillary Clinton all co-sponsored Feingold's troop redeployment amendment, but none of them left the campaign trail to vote for it. One presidential hopeful who did show up was Republican John McCain, who led opposition to Feingold's measure.
"The choice today is simple," McCain said. "Do we build upon the clear successes of our current strategy and give Gen. Petraeus and the troops under his command the support they require to complete their mission, or do we ignore the realities and legislate a premature end to our efforts in Iraq, accepting thereby all the terrible consequences that will ensue?"