Cheney Says Congress' Anti-War Efforts Undermine Troops
Monday, March 12th 2007, 9:52 am
News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Anti-war lawmakers in Congress are undermining U.S. troops in Iraq by trying to limit President Bush's spending requests for military operations, Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday.
His remarks came as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a Wednesday test vote on a resolution that calls for combat troops to leave Iraq by March 2008.
Also this week, a House committee will consider legislation that would fully fund the administration's $100 billion request for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan yet demand that troops leave Iraq by the end of August 2008 and possibly the end of 2007.
With those showdowns nearing, Cheney tried to put Democrats on the defensive.
``When members speak not of victory but of time limits, deadlines and other arbitrary measures, they are telling the enemy simply to watch the clock and wait us out,'' Cheney said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
``When members of Congress pursue an anti-war strategy that's been called 'slow bleed,' they are not supporting the troops, they are undermining them,'' he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Cheney's remarks prove ``the administration's answer to continuing violence in Iraq is more troops and more treasure from the American people.''
Reid, D-Nev., said America was less safe today because of the war. The president ``must change course, and it's time for the Senate to demand he do it,'' Reid said.
Democratic leaders have public opinion on their side when it comes to their opposition of the war. More than six in 10 Americans think Iraq was a mistake _ the largest number yet found in AP-Ipsos polling.
But congressional leaders have struggled to get party members to agree how far to go to end the war. Some anti-war Democrats prefer limiting the funds so the administration would essentially be forced to remove U.S. forces, a strategy that party leaders have abandoned. Others say they do not want to do anything that could hurt the troops.
``This supplemental should be about supporting the troops and providing what they need,'' said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., on Monday upon returning from a trip to Iraq. Boren said he plans to oppose any legislation setting a clear deadline for troops to leave.
Cheney seized on the debate among Democrats, contending the White House expects Congress will support the troops.
Cheney said the House's nonbinding vote against troop increases in Iraq last month was an example of ``twisted logic'' and ``not a proud episode in the history of the United States Congress.''
Cheney added, ``Very soon, both houses will have to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding, a bill to provide emergency funding to the troops, and I sincerely hope that this time, the discussion this time will be about winning in Iraq.''
He predicted ``disaster'' and ``chaos'' in the Middle East with either al-Qaida or Iran emerging dominant from a bloody sectarian battle and compromising regional security if U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq before their mission is completed.
Of particular concern, he said, would be a powerful and possibly nuclear-armed Iran, criticizing as inconsistent some lawmakers who are pressing for tougher action on Iran but opposing Bush's Iraq plan.
``It is simply not consistent for anyone to demand aggressive action against the menace posed by the Iranian regime while at the same time acquiescing in a retreat from Iraq that would leave our worst enemies dramatically emboldened and Israel's best friend, the United States, dangerously weakened,'' Cheney said.