WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush vetoed legislation to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq Tuesday night in a historic showdown with Congress over whether the unpopular and costly war should end or escalate.
In only the second veto of his presidency, Bush rejected legislation that would require the first U.S. combat troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later.
He vetoed the bill immediately upon his return to the White House from a visit to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., the headquarters of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, including Iraq.
Democrats made a last-minute plea for Bush to sign the bill, knowing their request would be ignored. "The president has put our troops in the middle of a civil war," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Reality on the ground proves what we all know: A change of course is needed."
Lacking the votes to override the president, Democratic leaders quietly considered what might be included or kept out of their next version of the $124 billion spending bill.