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President George W. Bush discusses his veto of the Iraq war funding bill in the Cross Hall of the White House.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR: Here's the speaker.
NANCY PELOSI: With the benchmarks to hold the Iraqi government accountable, this legislation respects the wishes of the American people to end the Iraq War. I'm pleased to sign this legislation which passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support.
NAYLOR: When it was his turn, Senate Majority Leader Reid said there was still time for the president to listen to the American people.
HARRY REID: As we know, the president has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. Reality on the ground proves what we all know a change of course is needed.
NAYLOR: The bill is going to the White House on the anniversary of the day four years ago that President Bush in his own bit of stage craft flew to the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and under a banner proclaiming mission accomplished declared major combat in Iraq to have ended. Democrats said the timing was coincidental. House Republican whip Roy Blunt of Missouri says it's time to end the stage craft.
ROY BLUNT: We want to move beyond the political theater and get down to the work that we're supposed to do, which is to fund the troops in the field and let them do the job that we've asked them to do.
NAYLOR: It's not clear what kind of legislation will emerge next. Some House Democrats led by John Murtha of Pennsylvania want to send the president a measure funding the war for just 60 days and make him come back and seek additional money later this summer. Others want to attach benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet to any funding bill. While that idea has been dismissed by the White House, it continues to draw interest from congressional Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
MITCH MCCONNELL: There are a number of Republicans who do think that some kind of benchmarks if properly crafted would actually be helpful. If you recall when General Petraues was here, he said he thought some kinds of benchmarks crafted appropriately would actually be helpful. So I think that is an area that we can talk about beginning tomorrow.
NAYLOR: Brian Naylor, NPR News, the Capitol.
President Bush has made good on his promise to veto a $124 billion spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that includes a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops.
The president vetoed the measure a few hours after Congress sent it to him, capping a day of political theater in Washington.