The U.S. House of Representatives has defeated a new bill that would require U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by early next year.
Legislators voted 255 to 171 Thursday to reject the Democratic-backed measure.
Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of New York said the Democrat's strategy is aimed at a responsible withdrawal of US forces.
But Republic lawmaker David Dreier of California renewed charges that Democrats are engaging in a "political charade."
House lawmakers are expected to vote later Thursday on a main bill that would provide 43-billion dollars for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan through July, including funds to train Iraqi and Afghan security forces.
Earlier Thursday, President Bush rejected in advance the Democrat-crafted legislation splitting war funding. But he said the White House will seek agreement with Congress on a spending bill that contains benchmarks to measure progress in Iraq.
Mr. Bush said he has given his chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, authority "to find common ground on benchmarks" with Congress. Among possible benchmarks being discussed for the Iraqi government to meet are agreement on resolving sectarian violence and agreement on oil revenue.
Mr. Bush spoke to reporters after receiving a closed-door briefing from senior military officials at the Pentagon on the situation in Iraq.
The meeting takes place one day after a group of moderate congressional Republicans had what is being described as an unusually "blunt" discussion on Iraq with Mr. Bush and his senior aides at the White House.
The 11 Republican lawmakers told the president they will remain united against a new Democratic bill in the House, but told him an exit from Iraq is almost inevitable.