Congressional delegation to oppose war allocation

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(Host) All 3 members of Vermont’s congressional delegation say they’ll strongly oppose President Bush’s plan to allocate another $50 billion for the war in Iraq.

But there’s a growing recognition that there may be very little opponents of the war can do to block the additional funding.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Congress returns to Washington next week following their August recess and additional funding for the Iraq war is expected to spark another heated debate on Capital Hill.

All 3 members of Vermont’s delegation say they’ll strongly oppose the President’s plan to seek another 50 billion dollars for the war.

Congressman Peter Welch:

(Welch) "It just doesn’t make any sense to prolong this by asking our military to be the referee in a civil war. And I can’t see the justification for sending more money in a military strategy that can’t solve what is fundamentally a political problem."

(Kinzel) Senator Bernie Sanders says it’s critical for Congress to attach a deadline to withdraw troops to any new spending request. Sanders says the war has been a disaster on many fronts.

(Sanders) "What it’s done to the Iraqi people, what it’s done to our standing in the world what it’s done in allowing al-Qaeda to become even more powerful even more dangerous I think the evidence is there that the time is now to very fundamentally change our course in Iraq, bring our troops home as soon as we can."

(Kinzel) Senator Patrick Leahy says cutting off funds for the Iraq war is the only way to end it. Leahy notes that he’s one of the few senators who voted to cut off funding for the Vietnam War – an action that eventually led to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from that country.

(Leahy) "I’m not willing to vote for a blank check. The President’s asked for a blank check and we find out now even though we’re cutting out money for police departments in America, we’re finding that the money that we spent for the police departments in Iraq – they’ve been shipping guns to criminal groups in Turkey and everywhere else they’re using them to kill each other. At some point we have to start paying attention to our need here at home."

(Kinzel) President Bush has vetoed previous efforts by the Democrats to link future funding to a troop deadline. Congressman Welch says it’s going to be very hard to override a presidential veto unless a sizeable number of Republicans oppose the President.

Welch says a recent decision by Republican senator John Warner of Virginia to support a change in policy in Iraq is significant:

(Welch) "What you have very clearly is a situation where the President is going to run the clock out. I mean it’s become very clear to everybody including I think including Senator Warner and the Republicans that the president is going to stay the course until he’s out of office. Frankly I think that’s a tragedy."

(Kinzel) Welch says it’s unclear how many Republican senators may be influenced by Senator Warner’s new position.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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