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White House, Democrats, Hit Impasse on Iraq

Congressional leaders and White House negotiators tried again Friday to work out a funding deal on the war in Iraq — one that Congress could approve and President Bush could sign.

But the White House rejected the Democrats' opening bid, in which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered to drop billions of dollars of domestic spending from the war bill.

"If you want to do away with all domestic discretionary spending," Reid said, "we will take, in exchange for that, in a split second, accountability for the president what's going on in Iraq."

The Democrats also offered to give the White House waivers on proposed timelines for the U.S. mission in Iraq — an offer that Pelosi said was turned down.

"Whether waivable or not, timelines send exactly the wrong signal to our adversaries, to our allies, and most importantly, to the troops in the field," said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten after he and congressional leaders failed to agree on language for a war funding bill.

"To say I was disappointed in the meeting is an understatement," Bolten said.

The White House could accept a Republican war funding proposal that got 52 votes this week in the Senate, according to Bolten. But that measure doesn't satisfy all Democrats. Speaker Pelosi says that without a compromise, her party will now write its own war funding bill.

The task then remains to find a veto-proof way to approve funding for troops without expressing approval of the war they're fighting.

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