May 2, 2007
The president's move to veto the supplemental spending bill prompted protests across the U.S. Wednesday including here in Charlottesville.
The original bill sent to the president included money for the war, but it also included a timetable to bring U.S. troops home by as early as next year. Following the president's veto, those against the war were speaking out.
On the downtown mall Wednesday evening, demonstrators gathered to protest the Iraq War and, more specifically, the president's decision to veto a bill that included a troop pull out.
It was one of more than 300 similar protests held Wednesday around the country.
"It's important that one happen everywhere where there are people that think the president should actually listen to Congress," said Marianne Votaw, a rally organizer for MoveOn.org.
The protests are organized by MoveOn.org, an organization self-described as one that "empowers people to make a difference in democracy."
"We're trying to get his attention and get him to recognize that the nation does not agree with him," said Bob Van de Castle, a protester. "He is supposed to be the person we elected, yet he's totally thumbing his nose at us. He's totally thumbing his nose at Congress."
Despite Wednesday's protests, Bush's veto is now putting pressure on Democrats to come up with a modified plan. Both sides met with Bush Wednesday in hopes of finding a compromise, some hoping for a solution by Memorial Day.
Democrats have begun drafting a new bill, one that adds benchmarks to measure the progress of the Iraqi government and could eliminate timetables for troop withdrawal.
And while some maintain a phased withdrawal is the best course of action, local protesters are calling for more immediate action on Capitol Hill.
"(I am hoping) that Congress will not back down," said Votaw. "That we can actually get enough people to override his veto and constitutionally show him that he is not king."
Democrats and Republicans agree working out a compromise could take days, possibly weeks. In the meantime, President Bush says the money is urgently needed to fund the war.
Around the Commonwealth, similar protests were held in Richmond, Williamsburg and northern Virginia.