February 15, 2007
Dems may try to cut off funds for troop surge
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON As they prepare to cast a symbolic vote against
President Bush's Iraq policy on Friday, some Democratic lawmakers
also are considering something with more teeth - a cutoff in
funding for the surge of troops into Iraq.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, an opponent of the troop increase, said
Wednesday he would vote to deny funds to prevent additional troops
from being sent to Iraq.
While there are no current plans by Congress to cut off funding
for the war, there are indications Democratic leaders might
attempt to halt the buildup later this year by placing
restrictions on defense funds.
The House will vote Friday on a Democratic-drafted statement that
would express Congress' disapproval of Bush's plans to deploy
21,500 additional troops to Iraq.
Bush last month announced his decision to deploy the additional
troops. He said they are critical to a new effort to secure and
hold violent neighborhoods in the Baghdad area and provide
continuing training to Iraqi soldiers. The president said the plan
holds the promise of creating stability in the nation.
Bush has indicated he will continue with the buildup even if the
measure, which is nonbinding, passes in the Democratic-controlled
House, as expected.
REGULA, SPACE TO WEIGH IN
Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, the only Republican
lawmaker from the area, plans to lay out his views on the
resolution in a speech on the House floor at about 4 p.m. today.
As of Wednesday night, he was mum on whether he would vote with
most Republicans to oppose the resolution or join Democrats in
Regula has backed Bush's Iraq policy in the past, but in recent
weeks he has stressed the need for Iraqis to take more
responsibility for their future.
Rep. Zack Space, D-Dover, also plans to speak on the House floor
late this afternoon. He and other area Democrats, including Reps.
Charlie A. Wilson Jr. of St. Clairsville and Betty Sutton of
Copley, oppose the troop increase.
Sutton told a congressional committee earlier this week that she
opposes the buildup because the "situation ... does not have a
"Unity in Iraq has to be determined by the people who live there,
and the evidence is overwhelming that what our troops are being
asked to fix is a sectarian civil war," she said.
Ryan, during a press conference with other young Democratic
lawmakers from the "30 Something Working Group," said Wednesday
that past "escalations" of American troops in Iraq have led to
more American deaths.
"We disagree with what the president wants to do ... because we
already tried it, and it doesn't work," he said.
Ryan and other Democrats are charging that the additional troops
being sent to Iraq lack sufficient training, equipment and
In a letter to Bush Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.,
and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Army lacks
"thousands of advanced armor kits for Humvees that could protect
against roadside bombs."
Citing unspecified "news reports," they also claimed there is a
lack of trucks, jamming devices, radios and other gear.
National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe disputed the
assertions, saying American troops would be "fully equipped and
ready when they go into combat in Iraq."
"I think the commanders on the ground are going to have everything
they need for their troops," he said.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN?
Recent statements from Republican and Democratic leaders indicate
Democrats might try to limit funding for the surge when they
consider an administration request for an additional $100 billion
for the war later this year.
Ryan insisted he would not vote to cut off funding for troops
currently in Iraq.
But when asked if he would oppose funding to send additional
troops, he said yes.
"I would be willing to say if there's troops here in America that
have not left yet, I would say let's keep them here," he said.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who appeared at the press
conference with Ryan, was undecided about whether she would vote
to cut off funding for the surge. But she said she was "leaning"
toward Ryan's position.