Attempted Unity in Iraq, Political Divide in White House

Vice President Dick Cheney made an unscheduled detour to Iraq on May 8, 2007. He was there to urge the government to work harder toward political unity, but in Washington it was another round of political divide over how to fund the war.

Today, Vice President Cheney got a taste of the persistent violence in Iraq. During a surprise visit to Baghdad, an explosion shook the U.S. Embassy where he was doing business. The vice president was not hurt and his work wasn’t impacted, but he admitted security in Iraq could be better.

“I think everybody recognizes there still are some security problems - security threats - no question about it,” Cheney said.

Meanwhile in Washington, House Democrats wary of administration assurances that the troop surge will improve the situation in Iraq, have a new war funding bill on the table.

It only provides money for the next two or three months. After that, the Bush Administration would have to ask for more.

The new bill does not include a deadline for troop withdrawal. That’s, in part, why President Bush vetoed the last bill.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a Senate subcommittee on May 9, 2007, the new bill would make it tough to run the war.

“In essence, the bill asks me to run the Department of Defense like a ‘skiff,’ and I am trying to drive the biggest super tanker in the world, and we just don’t have the agility to manage a two-month appropriation very well,” Gates explained.

The White House said if President Bush receives the war funding bill in its current form, he will veto it because it contains restrictions on funding and some spending items the president wanted removed from the first bill.

More than 35,000 soldiers have been told to be prepared to deploy to Iraq this fall if they’re needed to support the surge through the end of the year. The Pentagon said this does not mean the decision has been made to extend the surge through December though.

During his visit to Baghdad today, Vice President Cheney met with Iraq’s Prime Minister. Cheney’s message to Nouri Al Maliki, Iraq’s government must work together and not rely solely on U.S. forces.

He also discouraged parliament from taking a two-month summer recess when there are no significant signs of progress.

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