WASHINGTON: Defying US President George W. Bush's veto threat, the Senate - on a 51-46 vote - yesterday passed a $124.2 billion supplemental spending bill that contains the troop withdrawal timetable.
The House earlier passed the legislation one day before.
The legislation is the first binding challenge on the war that Democrats have managed to execute since they took control of both houses of Congress in January.
"The sacrifices borne by our troops and their families demand more than the blank checks the president is asking for, for a war without end," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said.
Democrats said the bill was on track to arrive on the president's desk next Tuesday, the anniversary of Bush's announcement aboard the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.
"The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11, 2001, and still goes on," Bush said on May 1, 2003, in front of a huge "Mission Accomplished" banner.
Bush since has acknowledged that the war campaign has not progressed as he had hoped. After the November elections, in which Democrats swept up enough seats to take the majority, Bush announced a new strategy that involved sending additional forces to Iraq.
"Last November, the American people voted for a change in strategy in Iraq and the president listened," White House spokesman Dana Perino said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The House of Representatives voted for failure in Iraq - and the president will veto its bill."
Republicans labeled the timetable a "surrender date".
"Al-Qaida will view this as the day the House of Representatives threw in the towel," Republican Jerry Lewis of California, said.
The huge bill would fund the war, among other things, but demand troop withdrawals from October 1 or sooner if the Iraqi government does not meet certain benchmarks.
The bill sets a nonbinding goal of completing the troop pullout by April 1, 2008.
Source: China Daily/agencies