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Bush funding victory in Congress -

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Bush funding victory in Congress

AM - Friday, 21 December , 2007 08:04:00

Reporter: Michael Rowland

TONY EASTLEY: In the United States there's a lot of soul searching within Democratic ranks about
the party's failure to force an early end to the war in Iraq.

After yet another stand-off with George W. Bush, Democrats have blinked and provided the President
with all the extra money he'd sought to keep troops on the ground.

Mr Bush used a White House media conference overnight to reinforce arguments for the war, but at
the same time he expressed frustration at the lack of political reconciliation between Iraq's
sectarian groups.

Washington correspondent Michael Rowland reports.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: It was the President's last media conference of the year and he couldn't resist
the opportunity of taking one final dig at the White House press corps.

GEORGE W. BUSH: I hope you all enjoy the holiday reception at the White House as much as Laura and
I enjoyed it. We took an inventory of the silverware and this year only a few pieces were missing.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The President has snatched a political victory in the days before Christmas.

The Democrat controlled US Congress has delivered Mr Bush the present he most wanted, an extra $81
billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Democrats had tried to tie the extra Iraq money to firm troop withdrawal deadlines, but in the
end couldn't get the numbers to force the measure through the US Senate.

The President is being magnanimous in victory.

GEOREG W. BUSH: I really don't sit here and say, "Well, you know, he won, they lost or they won, he
lost." It's just not my nature, because I think what ended up happening was good for the country.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: The failure to force Mr Bush's hand on the Iraq war is a huge blow to the
Democrats, who took control of Congress earlier this year on a wave of anti-war sentiment.

The Democrat leadership concedes the party has been distinctively unimpressive in its efforts to
end the war.

Many democrat congressmen, like Jim McGovern from Massachusetts, are furious.

JIM MCGOVERN: The new money in this bill represents one cave-in too many. It is an endorsement of
George Bush's policy of endless war.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: While the so-called US troop surge has quelled a lot of the sectarian violence in
Iraq, Mr Bush says he isn't satisfied at the pace of political progress in Baghdad.

He's also worried some of America's allies will abandon the fight in Afghanistan.

GEORGE W. BUSH: My biggest concern is that people say, "Well, we're kind of tired of Afghanistan,
therefore we think we're going to leave." That would be my biggest concern. So our objective is to
help people, you know, meet a mission that they're comfortable with achieving and convince them
that this is going to take a while. It's going to take time.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: On the home front, Mr Bush resisted the temptation to weigh into the Republican
presidential race.

While he stressed he didn't want to become the "opiner-in-chief", the President was confident about
the outcome of next year's election.

GEORGE W. BUSH: I believe we will keep the White House. I believe ours is the party that
understands the nature of the world in which we live and that the government's primary
responsibility is to protect the American citizens from harm. And I will continue to remind the
American people that our professionals need to have the tools necessary to make sure that we find
out who's thinking about attacking us and if they are, do something about it.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: It's an argument Americans will be hearing a lot of in 2008.

In Washington this is Michael Rowland reporting for AM.