Bush Chides Congress Over Legislative Priorities

Wednesday, October 17th 2007, 8:31 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush on Wednesday accused Congress of dragging its feet on key pieces of legislation, urging quick action on budget and children's health measures.

He also urged the Democratic-controlled Congress to drop efforts to pass a House resolution labeling as genocide the World War I-era killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

With all the pressing responsibilities facing the nation, ``One thing Congress should not be doing is sorting out the historical record of the Ottoman Empire,'' he said.

``Congress has little to show for all the time that has gone by'' since Democrats gained control in January of both the House and the Senate, Bush said.

At a White House news conference, the president also said that Congress needs to act on mortgage relief for homeowners hit by the housing crisis, trade deals that would strengthen allies, legislation expanding U.S. markets and aid to military veterans.

Bush also said that he opposes Turkey's desire to launch a military offensive against Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

``We are making it very clear to Turkey that we don't think it is in their interest to send troops into Iraq,'' Bush said shortly before Turkey's parliament approved a cross-border military offensive against the Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

``Actually they have troops already stationed in Iraq and they've had troops stationed there for quite a while,'' he said. ``We don't think it's in their interest to send more troops in.''

Bush said he talked about Turkey with Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, on Wednesday. He also noted that Tariq al-Hashimi, one of Iraq's vice presidents, was in Istanbul expressing that Iraq shares Turkey's concerns about terrorist activities, but that there's a better way to deal with the issue than having Turkey send additional troops into the country.

``What I'm telling you is that there's a lot of dialogue going on and that's positive,'' he said.

Bush used the news conference _ his first since Sept. 20 _ to prod the Democratic-controlled Congress to approve spending, education and health bills.

It came just a day before the House will try to override his veto of a bill expanding a popular children's health program.

``It's unlikely that veto override will succeed,'' Bush said noting that Democratic leaders knew that ``when they sent me the bill.''

Bush also defended his decision to attend a ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol later Wednesday to award Congress' highest civilian honor to the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual head of Tibet's Buddhists.

``One, I admire the Dalai Lama a lot; two, I support religious freedom, he support religious freedom,'' Bush said.

The reception the Dalai Lama was getting in the United States infuriated the Chinese government, which reviles the Buddhist leader.