Peoria Journal Star
LaHood supports Bush plan for Iraq
Lawmaker says efforts by some Democrats to restrict funding 'would
be a disgrace'
January 10, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. - After a meeting with President Bush,
U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood on Tuesday said he agrees with the
president's plan to send 20,000 more troops into Iraq.
"My feeling is that we have to do all that we can to continue
our efforts to stabilize Baghdad," said LaHood, a Republican and
longtime supporter of the war efforts who represents Peoria and
part of Springfield.
LaHood was one of 12 Republican House members invited to the
White House for an hourlong briefing on the president's new war
strategy before it is unveiled to the public in a nationally
televised speech tonight.
He acknowledged the stakes are high for the president.
"I think the president knows this is one of the most important
speeches he'll make," LaHood said. "His legacy will be two things
- his leadership after 9-11 and Iraq."
LaHood acknowledged that his central Illinois constituents are
concerned about the war. Recent polls show a majority of Americans
don't approve of Bush's handling of the war, a sentiment that was
reflected in the November
"They're concerned about the cost and they're concerned about
the cost of lives," LaHood said of his constituents.
However, LaHood said efforts by some Democrats to restrict
funding needed to send additional troops won't sit well with the
"I think that would be a disgrace," he said. "I think that
would be a political stunt that would backfire on anybody who
tries to do it."
Freshman Rep. Phil Hare, D-Rock Island, whose district includes
Galesburg and part of Springfield, said he's strongly opposed to
increasing troop numbers in Iraq.
"I think this is a last-ditch attempt by this president to try
to save what I don't think can be saved," Hare said in a telephone
interview. "We just lost another soldier from Galesburg in my
"The only way, in my opinion, that we're ever going to get
peace in that country is through diplomatic efforts."
He joins Illinois' two Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and
Barack Obama, who last week criticized the proposal to increase
troops. Hare also called for a timeline for withdrawal.
However, all three Illinois Democrats said they would not want
to cut financial support to troops already there.
Hare also protested the $1 billion in economic aid to Iraq that
President Bush is proposing to rebuild Iraq.
"One of the things I'm also a little bit miffed about is that
the president wants $1 billion for infrastructure in Iraq and yet
we still have vehicles that are not armor-fitted for the men and
women serving over there," Hare said. "I think he has this thing
The money should be used to make up the shortfall in funding
for health care for U.S. veterans, said Hare, who learned Tuesday
he was assigned to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
He had sought the assignment to continue efforts by his
longtime boss and predecessor, retired Rep. Lane Evans.
Dori Meinert can be reached at (202) 737-7686 or