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Pelosi: 'We Came in the Spirit of Hope That the President Would Take Yes for an Answer'

Washington, D.C.--Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke during a press stakeout this afternoon at the White House with other House and Senate Democratic leaders after their meeting with President Bush.  Below are her opening remarks:

'I concur with the view of the distinguished Senate Majority Leader that this was a productive meeting with the President.  He took the time to hear our views and shared his with us.  We came here in a spirit of hope, recognizing that this is an historic opportunity for the President and the Congress to work together to wind down this war and to ensure the security of our country and the stability of the region. 

'We came in the spirit of hope that the President would take yes for an answer.  The legislation that we will send to his desk certainly supports the troops.  It gives the President everything he asks for as the Senate Majority Leader said, and more.  So it supports the troops, it honors our commitments to our veterans, which of course these commitments have been unfulfilled.  And it holds the Iraqi government accountable.  It does so in a way that also strengthens our military, which is essential to the security of our country. 

'I believe we were able to tell the President some things about our legislation that he may or may not have been aware of.  That this is about a change in mission, from combat to training, to protecting our diplomats there, to fighting terrorism in the region, and to staying there to protect our interests wherever they may be threatened in the region. 

'It's about accountability.  It gives the President all of the benchmarks that he himself proposed, and all the benchmarks regarding the Iraqi government that he has endorsed.  It does so, though, with an element of accountability.  We cannot give the President a blank check, but we're willing to work with him to come to agreement. 

'We look forward to continuing the conversation with the President.  It is our plan to pass legislation next week, so the President can take it up at his earliest time.  And hopefully give some hope to the American people that we understand that they want us to work together to wind down this war and to bring our troops home.'