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Bush Urges Congress To Approve Funds For Troops

By Carmen L. Gleason

Bush Urges Congress to Approve Funds for Troops in Combat

President Bush said Congress must act quickly to approve a bill to fund troops in combat before members break for the holidays.

"Congress' first priority should be to provide the funds and flexibility to keep our troops safe and help them protect our nation," Bush said during his weekly radio address yesterday.

The president said he has submitted detailed requests to fund operations in the war on terror beginning in February, and he noted that troops have been waiting on the needed funds for months.

"The funds include money to carry out combat operations against the enemy in Afghanistan and Iraq," Bush said. "They include money to train the Afghan and Iraqi security forces to take on more responsibility for the defense of their countries. And they include money for intelligence operations to protect our troops on the battlefield."

Congress has approved supplemental funding for war operations, but such legislation comes attached with timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Bush has vowed to veto any such legislation that crosses his desk.

Following a Pentagon visit this week, the president told reporters the department's missions were too important to be disrupted, delayed or put at risk.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other senior defense officials warned the commander in chief that anticipated funding shortfalls have resulted in the preparation for the Army and Marine Corps to reduce operations at all bases during the first few months of 2008.

"(Gates) has already notified Congress that he will transfer money from accounts used to fund other activities of the military services to pay for current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and no more money can be moved," Bush said.

In addition to reduced operations, the president explained that Gates has directed the two services to develop a play to lay off civilian employees and terminate contracts.

"Military leaders have told us what they need to do their job," Bush said. "It is time for the Congress to do its job and give our troops what they need to protect America."


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