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Senate Passes Supplemental, Veto Expected Early Next Week

The Senate approved a doomed supplemental war spending bill today, setting the stage for an expected presidential veto early next week and yet another round of partisan fighting over the conduct of the Iraq War.

As expected, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) successfully ushered through a $124 billion supplemental package that includes provisions setting a timetable for the phased redeployment of troops in the war-torn country, as well as billions in earmarks for domestic projects.

Reid praised the bill, arguing that “the president has a choice — to heed the call of the American people, a bipartisan majority in Congress and the military experts in Iraq,” or veto the package. “We don’t want to scuffle with the president,” Reid added.

Republicans, however, dismissed the vote as a purely political act and called on Democrats to quickly begin work on a new bill. “The Democrats have made their political point,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said, adding that “this confrontation with the president does a disservice to the troops” and urged Democrats to quickly complete a new version.

But despite the completion of legislative work on the bill, Democrats are not expected to formally “enroll” the measure and send it to President Bush until Monday, a delay Republicans were quick to seize upon following the vote. “This conference report should be sent down to the president today. By the close of business today. Not tomorrow, not next Monday,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

A Senate Democratic aide said it was unclear why the bill will be delayed and said because it technically originates in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was responsible for transmitting it to the White House, where Bush is expected to veto it.

That day will mark the fourth anniversary of Bush’s infamous “mission accomplished” gaffe aboard an aircraft carrier in the Gulf.

Although at press time a spokesman for Pelosi had not returned a request for comment, Democratic aides said that the mechanics of printing and enrolling a bill of the supplemental’s size would take several days to complete, and that with the House set to be out Monday for the funeral of the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.), Tuesday is likely the first day Bush will have a chance to exercise his veto authority.

But Republican aides scoffed at that reasoning, pointing out that Senate Democrats will convene in New York City on Friday and Saturday for a private retreat. “They’re having a ‘retreat’ the day after passing a surrender date? Irony lives in the United States Congress,” one GOP aide charged.

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