WASHINGTON – President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney aggressively challenged the motives of congressional Democrats on Tuesday, as the House and Senate prepared to consider a war-spending bill that would order troops to be withdrawn from Iraq beginning later this year. In separate appearances that served as a prelude to an inevitable veto showdown, Bush and Cheney accused Democrats of political opportunism in forging ahead with a $124 billion measure that sets a timetable for leaving Iraq. “Instead of fashioning a bill I could sign, the Democratic leaders chose to further delay funding our troops, and they chose to make a political statement,” Bush said Tuesday morning before leaving for New York. “That’s their right. But it is wrong for our troops and it’s wrong for our country.” Cheney was even tougher as he spoke to reporters after a private weekly lunch for Republican senators. He lashed out at Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, who delivered stinging comments of his own Monday, portraying Bush as being in denial about the war and saying Cheney had tarnished his office. “What’s most troubling about Senator Reid’s comments yesterday is his defeatism,” said Cheney. “And the timetable legislation that he is now pursuing would guarantee defeat. Maybe it is a political calculation. “It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage,” Cheney said. Democrats confident Democrats, bolstered by what they see as strong public sentiment for the administration to wind down the war, were confident they could win approval of the measure in the House and in the Senate on Thursday. While acknowledging that Bush would send the bill back, they said they were determined to force him to formally reject legislation that provides more money for the military than sought by the White House but puts conditions on its use. “For the first time, the president will have to face up, will have to be accountable for this war in Iraq,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “And he doesn’t want to face that reality.” Reid fired back directly at Cheney on Tuesday, appearing at the same microphones just moments after the vice president. “I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with the administration’s chief attack dog,” he said. Defending the legislation up for a vote this week, he said, “We believe the troops should get every penny they need and we have put our money where our mouth is with supplemental appropriations, but we believe there must be a change of direction in the war in Iraq.” Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, is scheduled to visit Capitol Hill today to ask that lawmakers allow more time for the troop increase initiated by the administration to work. Members of the House are set to hear from him in a closed briefing this afternoon just hours before the spending measure is to reach the floor. He is then scheduled to brief senators. Democrats were skeptical he would change many minds. “He’s the commander,” said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “We always know that commanders are optimistic about their policies.” Petraeus’ briefing comes in a week when war-related developments are not running in the administration’s favor. Nine U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq on Monday and 20 others wounded. And members of the family of Pat Tillman, the professional football player and Army Ranger accidentally killed by other U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, appeared at an emotional House hearing Tuesday and accused the Pentagon and administration of misrepresenting the circumstances of his death. Benchmarks set Under the legislation before Congress, the United States would establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet to show progress in securing the country. If the president determines the Iraqis are complying, he would be directed to begin removing troops by Oct. 1, with a goal of having most combat forces out within six months. If the president concludes that the Iraqis are not making progress on the benchmarks, the pullout would begin earlier, by July. The House narrowly approved its version of the spending measure last month when it required a full withdrawal by fall of 2008 to mollify anti-war Democrats. Several House Democrats said they would support the latest version of the legislation even though the withdrawal date is now in the form of a goal. “It is the best we can do under the circumstances,” said Rep. Hank Johnson Jr., a first-term Democrat from Georgia. While Republicans have argued strongly against the Democratic-sponsored Iraq spending plan, they have put forth little resistance to the actual legislation, saying they are simply waiting for the president’s veto so lawmakers can try again to come up with a war-spending bill. Enemy would benefit Discussing the Democratic approach on “The Charlie Rose Show” taped Tuesday, Bush was asked what evidence he had that a hard withdrawal date would have a negative impact in Iraq. “Just logic,” Bush replied. “I mean, you say we start moving troops out, don’t you think an enemy is going to wait and adjust based upon an announced timetable of withdrawal?” In his criticism of Reid, Cheney noted that the Democratic leader had said the administration’s troop increase ran counter to the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. The study group said a surge might be advisable if commanders thought it would be useful. But Cheney failed to mention that it also recommended a withdrawal of combat units by the end of the first quarter of 2008, about the same time envisioned in the legislation. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Jofra Archer did not find a place in England’s preliminary World Cup squad but the uncapped all-rounder is determined to impress in the one-day series against Pakistan and break into the final team in case there is an injury in the 15-man side.Archer was omitted from the preliminary World Cup squad on Wednesday but got his maiden England call-up for the warm-up games against Pakistan and Ireland next month. Injury replacements for the showpiece event can be named until May 23.Barbados-born Archer, who is eligible for national selection under new England and Wales Cricket Board residency rules, said he was surprised by his quick elevation.”I thought I would have to wait a couple more years before I would be in contention for the full squad, I thought I would have to play for (England) Lions,” the all-rounder, currently playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, told reporters.”I was fully prepared in my mind that it was going to be a seven-year job. When I found out I was qualified more quickly it was obviously a bit of a shock but also exciting.”While the 24-year-old has admirers in England regulars Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes said it would be unfair for England selectors to ask any player to make way for the uncapped Archer.”I understand the situation and I’m very happy with everything. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” said Archer, whose ability to bowl at more than 90 miles per hour and power-hitting make him a limited-overs asset.advertisement”I’m not in the World Cup squad but it’s a great chance for me to show what I can do and anything can happen. If someone gets injured, I want to put myself in a position where I’m the first person they turn to.”I’m going to give it my best shot. I’ve worked pretty much all my life for this moment and I just want to tackle it and put my best foot forward.”Even if he is not eventually picked in the final World Cup squad, the 24-year-old said it was not going to be the end of the world.”Of course I want to play in the World Cup, but if it doesn’t happen for me I’m not going to get upset.”England play Ireland in a one-day international on May 3 before a five-match ODI series and a Twenty20 against Pakistan. The World Cup begins on May 30.Also Read | Chris Woakes not in favour of Jofra Archer selection in England World Cup squadAlso Read | ICC partners with UNICEF to organise #OneDay4Children at 2019 World CupAlso Read | World Cup 2019 Team India players full list: Virat Kohli to lead 15-man squad