"Democrats waiting for the U.N. to act?" a chuckling Bush said. "Seems like, to me, that if you're representing the United States, you ought to be making decisions based on what's best for the United States.
Coming a day after his speech demanding quick U.N. action to disarm Iraq, Bush's comments signaled that though he has consulted Congress and world leaders, he wants a speedy timetable.
The deadline for Saddam Hussein's regime to comply, Bush said, should be "days and weeks, not months and years."
Still, the president suggested, it is "highly doubtful" that Hussein will yield to pressures and avoid a military confrontation.
In his caustic remarks about Democrats, Bush was responding to those who say they will resist Bush's call for a speedy congressional resolution authorizing force against Iraq. Some lawmakers say Congress should not be asked to vote on whether to authorize military action before knowing what the international consensus is.
"We ought to speak with one voice, urging the U.N., rather than being in any way speculative or divisive," said Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee. Levin said he is considering drafting a resolution that would urge the U.N. to act but would not give Bush formal authority to attack Iraq.
Several senior Democrats seem to be pushing a two-stage role for Congress in which lawmakers would first vote - possibly as early as next week - to urge U.N. action. Once the United Nations has chosen a course of action, Congress would consider a resolution on use of force.
"If he wants a resolution supporting his speech of [Thursday], that's easy to pass," said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, referring to Bush. "If he wants an open-ended authorization to go to war, that's not so easy to pass."
Bush was backed by top Republicans in Congress, who called for swift action on a resolution to allow force. They said that not doing so would weaken Bush's position as he lobbies other international leaders.
Bush received some encouragement at the United Nations. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell emerged from a meeting with leaders from the other permanent members of the Security Council - Russia, China, Britain and France - to say he had won their agreement that Hussein poses a threat to international security.
And foreign ministers of the five nations released a joint statement saying that Iraq's defiance of past U.N. resolutions "is a serious problem," and that discussions had begun over how the Security Council "can tackle the problem to implement all the resolutions."
Some nations that have adamantly opposed the use of force - including Russia, which has economic ties to Hussein's regime - seemed to move closer to Bush's hard-line position.
Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov of Russia said that "should Iraq refuse to cooperate with the Security Council, the Iraqi leadership will have to assume responsibility for all possible consequences."