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Monday, May 21, 2007

Democrats to fund Iraq war with no pullout date

By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell
Tue May 22, 8:16 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush won a battle over nearly $100 billion to fund the Iraq war as Democratic leaders in Congress on Tuesday abandoned efforts to withdraw troops for now but pledged to try again in July.

Instead of setting schedules for pulling U.S. troops, it appeared the Democratic-run Congress and the Republican White House agreed for the first time to include conditions prodding Baghdad to make better progress toward quelling violence or risk losing around $1.3 billion in U.S. reconstruction aid.

Bush could waive the provision, however.

Congress wants to deliver by week's end the $100 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and

Afghanistan

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Afghanistan through September.

With the Iraq funding deal, Democrats said the first minimum wage increase in a decade, a high priority for them, would be included. Congress already has approved tax breaks for small businesses to go along with the wage hike.

Democrats also will try to attach about $20 billion in domestic initiatives -- from farm aid and better health care for veterans, to health insurance for poor children and money to continue rebuilding states hit by hurricanes in 2005.

Negotiations between the White House and Congress were continuing on details, however.

House liberals were disappointed by the emerging deal, and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record), a California Democrat who signed off on the plan, said she opposed the Iraq portion of it.

(full article click here)