For the first time, new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is saying Democrats may use the power of the purse to stop President George W. Bush’s controversial and unpopular plan to send more Americans troops to their death in his failed Iraq war.
“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,” Pelosi said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “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.”
“The administration’s policy in Iraq has failed and there is a question of how much longer we sustain this failure,” Pelosi said on the news talk show. “Right now, the war in Iraq is harming our military readiness. “That’s why you see hawk leaders in the Congress – those perceived as hawks – distancing themselves from the President.”
Up until now, Democrats have been reluctant to suggest cutting funding for the war because they did not want to be perceived as not supporting the troops.
Pelosi suggested withdrawal from Iraq might be necessary in order to assure that the United States has the military capability to protect itself at home.
On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would oppose Bush’s plan.
“Based on the advice of current and former military leaders, we believe this tactic would be a serious mistake,” Reid said.
“Voters are watching to see what difference this election can make. The president ought to heed their message,” Pelosi said. “We should not be obliged to an open-ended war.”