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White House says no withdrawal date

By Anne Flaherty
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON — The White House and Congress failed to strike a deal Friday after exchanging competing offers on an Iraq war-spending bill that Democrats said should set a date for U.S. troops to leave.

"Timelines for withdrawal are just not the right way to go, and that cannot be the basis for funding our troops," said Joshua Bolten, White House chief of staff, after a nearly 90-minute meeting on Capitol Hill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said they offered to grant Bush the authority to waive the deadlines. They said they also suggested they would drop billions of dollars in proposed domestic spending that Bush opposed, in exchange for his acceptance of identifying a withdrawal date.

The offer marked the Democrats' first major concessions in a weekslong battle with the White House on war funding.

"To say I was disappointed in the meeting is an understatement," Reid, D-Nev., told reporters. "I really did expect that the president would accept some accountability for what we're trying to accomplish here."

At stake is more than $90 billion the president says is needed to cover the costs of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan through September. The Democratic-controlled Congress on May 1 sent Bush a bill that would have paid for the war but also would have demanded that troops start coming home by Oct. 1. Bush vetoed the measure that same day.

The U.S. has spent more than $300 billion on Iraq military operations so far, according to a report Friday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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