Coalition of The Billing

Just a month after President George W. Bush proposed military and economic assistance to countries fighting alongside US soldiers in Iraq, Bush administration officials are struggling to find political support on Capitol Hill for the White House’s commitment to the “coalition of the willing”.

White House officials are pressing key senators to restore the funds, which had been earmarked especially for central and eastern European allies. Mr Bush promised Poland $100m (€75m, £39m) when President Aleksander Kwasniewski visited Washington, and when he visited Bratislava last month, Mr Bush also pledged funds to Slovakia.

The House bill has dropped the proposal, but it could be restored by the Senate. A senior Bush administration official said yesterday the White House was not yet resigned to cancellation of the initiative: “We are very much engaged with Senate and working with key members,” he said.

The White House budget office yesterday said the administration was “very concerned” that the House bill did not fund the initiative for “our partners who have taken significant political risks and borne financial and military burdens to fight terrorism and advance democracy and stability around the world”.