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Bush, Congress clash over economy

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The new clash with the White House comes as Democrats are scrambling to move housing legislation, a controversial farm bill, and the president's $108 billion war-funding request for this fiscal year. Last week, Senate majority leader Harry Reid called on committee chairmen to give him concrete suggestions for easing high prices at the pump this summer.

After recent successes blocking the White House on domestic-surveillance legislation and a trade deal with Colombia, House Democrats claimed that they had gained momentum in fighting for their own priorities.

After blocking a vote on a trade deal with Colombia this month, Speaker Pelosi told reporters that "the president has finally realized that the leverage has changed."

"That is the question: Who has the leverage? I think the president realizes now that we do," she said.

If so, Bush gave little indication of it in his press conference Tuesday. In response to a question, he restated opposition to any additional spending on the war-funding request. "I will not accept a supplemental over $108 billion or a supplemental that micromanages the war [and] ties the hands of our commanders," he said.

To relieve the subprime mortgage crisis, he called on Congress to pass long-delayed legislation to modernize the Federal Housing Administration and allow state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to refinance subprime loans. To help students seeking financing for college, he called on Congress to temporarily give the federal government greater authority to buy federal student loans. To reduce food prices, he said that Congress should reduce unnecessary subsidies for wealthy farmers.

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