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Bush, Democrats trade barbs on legislative delays

WASHINGTON - President Bush, weakened by record-low poll ratings, asserted he is still politically relevant and scolded the Democratic-led Congress yesterday for having "little to show for all the time that has gone by."

Trying to shape the political debate, Bush used a midmorning news conference to lecture lawmakers about not completing action on any spending bills to keep the government running or to send him legislation dealing with education and housing, among other matters.

With his presidency in its final 15 months, his approval ratings at just 31 percent in the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll, and Democrats running Congress, Bush has little clout to push his agenda through Congress.

He can stop the Democrats' proposals with his veto, however; Congress has been unable to override his rejection of troop withdrawal deadlines in Iraq and expanded stem cell research. The House today is expected to fail in a bid to override his veto of a bill that would expand a popular children's health insurance program.

Bush said his veto was "one way to ensure that I am relevant."

Democrats were quick to return Bush's criticism.

"While the Democratic Congress works to pass children's health insurance, to protect Americans while preserving civil liberties, and to end the disastrous Iraq war, the president chose to launch another partisan attack," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California.

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