Tue Jan 9, 2007 16:12

Re: "The War In Iraq"


Edward Kennedy
NPC Luncheon
Jan. 9, 12:30 PM
Senator Edward M. Kennedy will give a major policy address on the Iraq war and will outline the immediate actions Congress must take to reassert its

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Kennedy opposes money for troop boost
Updated 1/9/2007 2:26 PM ET USA TODAY

By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — On the eve of President Bush's announcement of a new Iraq policy, Sen. Edward Kennedy put Congress on a collision course with the White House by proposing legislation that would deny Bush money for sending more troops to the war unless the president gets "clear and specific new authorization" from Congress.

Bush will address the nation Wednesday night to present a new war strategy that is expected to include sending 20,000 additional troops to the war-torn country.

As a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kennedy has been a leading voice of opposition against the war in Iraq and has called for a political solution to the conflict.

"The American people sent a clear message in November that we must change course in Iraq and begin to withdraw our troops, not escalate their presence," the Massachusetts Democrat said in remarks at the National Press Club. "The way to start is by acting on the President's new plan."

He called any escalation of troops "an immense new mistake."

But Kennedy said it was not enough to "simply speak out" against an increase in troops "we must act to prevent it."

The wording of Kennedy's bill is blunt: "President George W. Bush should not be permitted to increase the number of United States troops in harm's way in the civil war in Iraq without a new authorization from Congress that reflects the reality on the ground in Iraq."

Kennedy said Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., will introduce similar legislation in the House.

Kennedy said his bill would not affect soldiers already in the field, but is aimed at any increase in troops.

"The best immediate way to support our troops is by refusing to inject more and more of them into the cauldron of a civil war that can be resolved only by the people and government of Iraq," he said.

AUDIO: Kennedy speaks at National Press Club

White House press secretary Tony Snow, without specifically addressing Kennedy's charges, said today the president "understands there is a lot of public anxiety" about the war. Yet he said that Americans "don't want another Sept. 11" type of terrorist attack and it is wiser to confront terrorists overseas in Iraq and other battlegrounds rather than in the United States.

Democrats, while generally opposing Bush's Iraq policy, are divided over how to use the budget process to pressure Bush over Iraq. Under the Constitution, the president has broad war-making powers, while Congress controls spending.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says Democrats will "look at everything" in their power to curb the war short of cutting money for troops already in the field.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press that attempts by Congress to "micromanage" the president's role as commander-in-chief might be unconstitutional.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he would only consider an increase in U.S. forces in Iraq if Bush agreed to start withdrawing troops within six months.

"We've got to focus the attention of the Iraqis on their responsibility for their own country," Levin told the Detroit Free Press. "The only way to tell them is that we're going to redeploy our forces in 4 to 6 months."

After meeting with the president on Monday, several senators, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said the plan calls for sending 20,000 extra troops to Baghdad and the western Anbar province, a base of the mostly Sunni insurgency and foreign al-Qaeda fighters.

Senators who attended the White House briefing indicated that the increase in troops would be to "benchmarks" that the Iraqi government must meet. These include sending more Iraqi troops to Baghdad and reaching a political settlement that will including sharing the nation's oil resources, particularly with the minority Sunnis.

The senators said the president expressed confidence that the Iraqi government could meet the benchmarks, but several of the senators remained skeptical.

"We've had these benchmarks before and to no avail," Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said after the meeting. "Why should we increase our exposure to risk?"

But whether Snowe and other GOP skeptics of Bush's plan, including Gordon Smith of Oregon and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, will agree to Kennedy's plan is doubtful.

"It would be a dishonorable thing for the Congress to budget away the bullets at a time when their commander in chief had ordered them to hold their place in the battlefront," said Smith.

Contributing: Associated Press

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