“We stand united in saying loud and clear that when we’ve got troops in harm’s way, we expect those troops to be fully funded,” he said. “And we’ve got commanders making tough decisions on the ground, we expect there to be no strings on our commanders. And that we expect the Congress to be wise about how they spend the people’s money.” Two Republicans, Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gordon Smith of Oregon, joined 49 Democrats in backing the bill, which totaled $123 billion when money for Gulf Coast hurricane relief, agricultural aid and other domestic projects was added. The bill also includes the Democratic plan to raise the minimum wage by $2.15 over two years. Reid promised that negotiators would quickly begin to reconcile the new Senate measure with a version passed by the House last week and have a bill ready to be approved and sent to the president soon after the House returned from its spring break on April 16. The administration has said the military needs the money by April 15, and the White House said Thursday that the Pentagon was already having to juggle accounts, shifting money from one program to another to buy more vehicles better able to withstand mines. Dana Perino, the deputy White House spokeswoman, said, “This, again, underscores the need to get the show on the road, get the bill to the president, he will veto it, and then, we’ll take it from there.” Democrats said the president was at fault there as well, saying he took too long to send his financing request to Congress. They also dismissed Republican complaints that they were micromanaging military policy, saying that Congress had constitutional authority equal to that of the executive branch and that Democrats were forced to intercede because of Bush’s refusal to heed public demands for withdrawing forces. WASHINGTON – Issuing a stinging challenge to President Bush, the Senate on Thursday approved a spending measure that provided more than $97.5 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but ordered troop withdrawals from Iraq to begin within 120 days and set a goal of removing most armed forces within a year. Democrats, preparing for a veto fight, immediately sought to paint the president as obstinate in the face of broad public sentiment against the war. They said he would be the one abandoning U.S. forces should he reject a final bill that lawmakers expected to produce in a few weeks. “If the president vetoes this bill, it is an asterisk in history,” said Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, after a 51-47 vote on the measure. “He sets the record for undermining the troops more than any president we have ever had.” But Bush was not wavering. He stood on the North Portico of the White House, flanked by Republican House leaders, and delivered his veto threat one more time. “It begins to return Iraq to the Iraqi people and to return our troops home,” Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said about the legislation. Republicans said the measure was a colossal mistake that told insurgent forces in Iraq when U.S. troops would begin leaving. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!