Bush, Democrats Face Tough Road to Compromise

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It will be tough for President Bush and congressional Democrats to find a compromise on the Iraq war spending bill — and a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal.

DANIEL SCHORR: In the deadly drama of this supplemental war spending bill, the curtain falls on Act I: The President's Veto, Sustained.


Senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: The curtain rises on Act II: The Murky Road Ahead. Prelude: President Bush before a contractor's convention today calling for goodwill on both sides to move beyond political statements. Mr. Bush who has rejected any kind of date for starting a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, has set his own deadlines - in fact, a few of them. As dates beyond, which American troops will start to suffer from material shortages.

Between the president and the Democrats, a compromise that would satisfy both of them will be intrinsically hard to find. The insurgents want American troops out of Iraq. So do a majority of the American voters. So, one can see the rising tension as Memorial Day nears and then, and then what?

Over the years, the White House and Congress have fashioned a way of avoiding a complete breakdown. It's called a continuing resolution. That's a stopgap measure to spend money at current levels while negotiations proceed. It can be for any length of time and there have been many continuing resolutions that lasted for periods - from one day to many months.

But that would create a shaky situation for the administration and for the opposition alike - each fighting to win defectors from the other side. So the Republicans have said that they would consider a bill that included benchmarks to measure Iraqi progress.

In coming days, one can expect appeals from both sides for bipartisan action. Rising public demands for action may have some effect. But deadlock seems easier to arrive at then solutions. So, we maybe facing a lot of continuing resolutions before our leaders find their way out of this morass.

This is Daniel Schorr.

BLOCK: When President Bush vetoed the spending bill, he used a pen given to him by the father of a marine, killed in Iraq. You can get the story behind the pen at npr.org.

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