April 8, 2007 / 5:37 PM / 10 years ago

Bush prays for safety of U.S. troops on Easter

<p>U.S. President George W. Bush (R) speaks to the press alongside first lady Laura Bush as overnight snow sits on a hedge following an Easter Sunday morning church service at Fort Hood, Texas, April 8, 2007.Jason Reed</p>

FORT HOOD, Texas (Reuters) - President George W. Bush prayed for the safety of U.S. troops on Sunday in an Easter service tempered by relentless violence in Iraq, with four more Americans killed.

Bush, spending the holiday weekend at his Texas ranch, attended Easter services at Fort Hood, home of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, which was told last week it would be redeploying to Iraq for a third tour of duty, probably in August.

Bush told reporters outside the base chapel after the service that he had reflected during the service of the sacrifice of U.S. troops and their families.

"I prayed for their safety, I prayed for their strength and comfort, and I prayed for peace," Bush said, joined by his father, former President George Bush, mother Barbara, wife Laura and her mother, Jenna Welch.

It was another grim day in Iraq. Four American soldiers were killed in attacks south of Baghdad on Sunday while another two died from wounds suffered in operations north of the capital, the U.S. military said.

More than 3,200 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq in four years of war and thousands more have been wounded, the lead factor in why many Americans are ready to wind down U.S. involvement in Iraq.

Bush, committed to trying to help the Iraq government gain stability and hoping a troop buildup will help, is locked in a test of wills with Democrats in charge of the U.S. Congress over his request of $100 billion to pay for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

<p>U.S. President George W. Bush (R) and his father, former President George Bush (L) pose for a picture with U.S. Army Sargeant Shanika Hampton, following an Easter Sunday morning church service at Fort Hood, Texas, April 8, 2007.Jason Reed</p>


Democrats are trying to attach to the funding bill a timetable for a troop pullout, sparking a veto threat from Bush. Interviewed on Sunday television shows, Democrats vowed to keep up the pressure.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer told Fox News if Bush vetoes the legislation "we will try to come up with a way, by talking with the White House, trying to compromise with the White House, that both supports the troops and yet changes the strategy in Iraq, which we feel is misguided."

But in a sign of Democratic division on the subject, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he could not support legislation backed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada that would cut off all funding for all U.S. combat troops in Iraq next March.

"We're not going to cut off funding for the troops. We shouldn't cut off funding for the troops, but what we should do, and we're going to do, is continue to press this president to put some pressure on the Iraqi leaders to reach a political settlement," Levin told ABC's "This Week."

Levin also said a lot of the $20 billion for unrelated spending projects that lawmakers attached to attract votes -- which Bush has called wasteful spending -- should be dropped from the legislation.

Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter told CNN's "Late Edition" that the two sides need to discuss a way out of the morass.

"I think there have not been sufficient efforts at discussions between the Congress and White House to try to work it out," Specter said.

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