Pelosi: No Money for Escalation Without Justification
Nancy Pelosi, appearing on “Face the Nation,” said the Congress will not fund a troop escalation without justification. Pelosi maintained that the Dems have no intention of cutting off funds for the war in general, although she insisted a “new direction” is necessary.
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PELOSI: The letter that Senator Reid, Leader Reid, and I sent to the president is the most recent in a series of letters over the past many months asking to work together with him for a new direction in Iraq.
The American people have spoken very clearly on the subject the election, and my speech and the letter consistently say, Mr. President, we must make it clear to the Iraqi government that they are responsible for the security of the Iraqi people, that a plan — you must put forth a plan that indicates that to them, that also brings stability to the region and begins serious, responsible redeployment of our troops.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, well, Madam Speaker, second, what are you going to do if the president doesn’t take your advice? What if he does announce that he is going to expand the size of the force in Iraq , as many are suggesting he’s going to do?
PELOSI: Well, if the president chooses to escalate the war, which is contrary to, of course, the will of the American people — they have spoken on this subject — but even the advice of his own generals in December, General Abizaid testified before the Senate that in his conversations with General Dempsey and with General Casey, they believe that adding more troops will not improve the situation there.
And so he’s not listening to the generals, the president isn’t, and he’s not listening to the American people. We as their representatives are trying to engage in dialogue with the president to find some common ground to reach an end to this situation.
Now, let’s be positive about the president’s speech. We wrote this letter because we have heard that he is in consultation with his advisers about a course of action. And we wanted to indicate to him which course of action we could work together on.
SCHIEFFER: So, you’ve told him what you don’t want to do, and that is to expand the size of the force in Iraq even on a short-term basis. But what if he decides to do that? What will be your action then?
PELOSI: If the president chooses to escalate the war, in his budget request we want to see a distinction between what is there to support the troops who are there now. The American people and the Congress support those troops. We will not abandon them.
But if the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it. And this is new for him because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions.
PELOSI: And we’ve gone into this situation, which is a war without end, which the American people have rejected.
SCHIEFFER: Now, let me ask you, and make sure I understand exactly what you are saying because, up until now, Democrats have not been enthusiastic about using the ultimate weapon, and that is to cut off funding.
PELOSI: We won’t do that.
SCHIEFFER: But you will not vote any more money to expand the size of the force there?
Is that what you’re telling us?
PELOSI: I’m saying two things. We will always support the troops who are there. If the president wants to expand the mission, that’s a conversation he has to have with the Congress of the United States .
But that’s not a carte blanche, a blank check to him to do whatever he wishes there.
And I want to make a distinction here. Democrats do support increasing the size of the Army by 30,000, the Marines by 10,000 to make sure we’re able to protect the American people.
SCHIEFFER: Enlarging the services overall?
PELOSI: Overall, in order to protect the American people against any threats to our interests, wherever they may occur. That’s different, though, from adding troops to Iraq.
The president wants to escalate a war where his generals are telling him that the additional troops will not be effective, that they’re easily digestible, to have this number of troops go into Baghdad, and then again, ignoring the strong message of the American people.
SCHIEFFER: So at this point, the Democrats in Congress are not prepared to pay for or to fund an additional number of troops in Iraq?
PELOSI: We have to see what the president has to say. It’s not an open-ended commitment anymore. But we will always be there to protect our troops and to support our troops. The burden is on the president to justify any additional resources for a mission.
In our letter, we say to the president, as we have over and over again, you must change the mission to training, to fighting terrorism, to logistics and force protection instead of combat.
Our troops have done an excellent job. Every chance we get, we praise them for what they have done. But unless there’s a political and diplomatic solution to match their efforts, their hands are tied behind their backs in order to end this.
So the president is going to have to engage with Congress in the justification for any additional troops he may wish. But escalation of the war is opposed by the Democrats.
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