In his Rose Garden address this morning, President Bush criticized the decision by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to pull the Defense Authorization bill from consideration, saying the move would deny a pay raise to soldiers serving in Iraq. “Congress has failed to act on” a bill that would “provide funds to upgrade our equipment, for our troops in Iraq and provides a pay raise for our military,” said Bush. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl made a similar argument on Wednesday.
“Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there,” Bush added. Watch it:
Bush’s use of the the military pay raise as a cudgel to bash his political opponents is dishonest and hypocritical. In May, he threatened to veto a House defense spending bill over the exact same 3.5 percent pay increase that he is now touting:
Bush budget officials said the administration “strongly opposes” both the 3.5 percent raise for 2008 and the follow-on increases, calling extra pay increases “unnecessary.”
Democratic leaders in the House wrote to Bush at the time urging him to reconsider his veto threat.
In a speech, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq war veteran, said that Bush’s veto threat was tantamount to the President of the United States saying, “Thank you for your service to your country, but that’s too much of a pay increase.”
A majority of the Senate is ready and willing to pass the defense bill, but conservatives carrying water for the White House’s stay-the-course Iraq strategy are determined to stand in the way.
UPDATE: Reid’s statement responding to Bush is here.