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Iraq Transition

Poll: Most back Congress over Bush in war funding fight

Story Highlights

• Poll: 57 percent support a war funding bill with a withdrawal timetable
• A majority, 60 percent, oppose cutting off funds to end Iraq war
• Nearly two-thirds oppose war, but most do not believe the war in Iraq is "lost"
By Bill Schneider
CNN Senior Political Analyst
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Most Americans disagree with President Bush's decision last week to veto the war funding bill that contained a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

What do they think Congress should do now?

Former Sen. John Edwards said Congress shouldn't back down. "If we don't have the votes to override the veto, the Congress should send him another bill with the funding authority for the troops, with a timetable for withdrawal," the Democratic presidential candidate said.

The public agrees. In the new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Tuesday, 57 percent want Congress to pass another bill with funding and timetables. (Read the complete poll results -- PDF)

The poll surveyed 1,028 American adults between Friday and Sunday. It has a sampling error of 3 percentage points. (Interactive: Poll results)

Another proposal is to replace timetables with benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet to show progress toward a political resolution.

"If they can't even get a formula for distributing the oil, if they can't even begin to take over 'Iraqization,' how much longer are we supposed to stay there with these goals?" Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said Sunday in an interview with CNN.

A bill with benchmarks instead of a timetable gets slightly more public support, 61 percent.

The reason the public supports a timetable for withdrawal may be because the four-year-old war remains unpopular, with nearly two-thirds of the public opposed. Of those polled, 34 percent said they support the war, while 65 percent expressed opposition.

But while previous surveys show Americans are pessimistic about the outcome of the war, a majority of 55 percent said they were not yet willing to declare it "lost." The prevailing view, held by 63 percent of Americans polled in April, is that neither side is winning.

Fifty-four percent said they don't believe the Bush administration's assertion that the war is the "central front" in the war on terrorist groups that was launched after al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Forty-three percent said they agreed.

Support for funding the troops

Republicans charge Democrats with failing to support U.S. troops. "The troops desperately need the funds," Rep. Adam Putnam, Republican Conference chairman, said. "The political games that are being played by the Democratic leadership are jeopardizing the reinforcements that they so desperately need to succeed in that country."

Democratic leaders have said they won't cut off support for the troops, and the majority of the public agrees they should not, according to the CNN poll. Sixty percent of those polled oppose a measure that would provide no additional funds for the troops and require them to withdraw by next March.

"We intend to fund the troops, as Speaker Pelosi and I have said," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said. "Our troops are in harm's way. We will not leave them defenseless or unsupported."

It was reported earlier this week that House Democrats are crafting a bill that would immediately provide the president with almost half of the requested $95.5 billion and would require Congress to vote again in July to release the remaining funds. (Full Story)

Although this proposal does not include dates for withdrawal, one leadership aide said it still demands accountability from Bush because "it doesn't just give him another $100 billion with no questions asked."

Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Robert Byrd want Congress to revoke the authority it gave President Bush in 2002 to invade Iraq and require him to seek new authority to continue the war. "I believe a full reconsideration of the terms and conditions of that authorization is overdue," Clinton said. (Watch how Sen. Clinton wants to 'repeal' the war Video)

Half the public agrees.

The public trusts Congress more than President Bush to set policy in Iraq. Congress is thought to be more committed to ending the war. But with trust comes responsibility. When asked who is more responsible for U.S. troops not yet receiving additional funds, 44 percent say the Democrats in Congress, while 34 percent say President Bush.

In a new CNN poll, a majority support calls for a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
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