House Democrats Pitch New Iraq Plan

House Democratic leaders planned to brief party members Tuesday on new legislation that would fund the Iraq war through July, then give Congress the option of cutting off money after that if conditions do not improve.

If, as expected, members agree to back the plan, a vote on the new war spending bill could come as early as this week. The proposal, pitched last week by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., was first disclosed Thursday by The Associated Press.

White House spokesman Tony Snow on Tuesday called the approach "just bad management."

Snow said the Democratic plan may delay the deployments of some personnel and prolong others, and though he didn't mention the word veto, he made clear that President Bush wants his full funding bill enacted soon, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports.

Congressional Republicans immediately dismissed the Democratic proposal as unfairly rationing funds needed in combat and said their members would not support it.

Democrats "should not treat our men and women in uniform like they are children who are getting a monthly allowance," said Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, his party's leader.

Added Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., after a GOP caucus meeting Tuesday: "It's a irresponsible approach. You do not fund wars 60 days at a time."

House Democrats want to provide a bill that supports the troops, but not give Mr. Bush a blank check. Further complicating matters, several House liberals oppose funding the war at all, while other more conservative Democrats are reluctant to tie strings to a bill needed by the troops.

The new version is likely to meet resistance in the Senate. Several Senate Democrats said they would oppose a short-term funding bill because it leaves open the question of whether troops will get the resources they need after July.

"There's the question of why it wasn't fully funded," said Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.

If the House version of the bill fails in conference with the Senate, Democratic leaders say their members will have other chances to affect Iraq policy. Party leaders have pointed to the 2008 defense authorization bill, which helps to set Pentagon policy, as well as the 2008 appropriations bills.

However, that plan could meet resistance by members reluctant to watch their carefully crafted bills sink under a presidential veto. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has drafted a defense authorization bill that requires U.S. officials to report on progress made on the war. But according to a panel aide familiar with the draft, the bill so far does not include a tough mandate to end the war.