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2266Levin: Senate Will Keep Paying for War

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  • Greg Cannon
    Apr 8, 2007

      Levin: Senate Will Keep Paying for War

      Sunday April 8, 2007 4:46 PM

      WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate will not stop paying for
      the Iraq war nor relent from insisting that President
      Bush keep pressing the Baghdad government for a
      negotiated end to the violence, a Democratic leader
      said Sunday.

      Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the Senate Armed Service
      Committee chairman, took issue with an effort by
      Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut off money for the
      war next year as a way to end U.S. involvement.

      ``We're not going to vote to cut funding, period,''
      Levin said. ``But what we should do, and we're going
      to do, is continue to press this president to put some
      pressure on the Iraqi leaders to reach a political

      Bush has asked Congress for more than $100 billion to
      pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this year.
      The House and Senate have approved the money, but
      their bills seek to wind down the war by including
      timelines for troops to come home - something Bush
      will not accept.

      The Senate bill would require a U.S. troop exit to
      begin within 120 days, with a completion goal of March
      31, 2008. The House bill would order all combat troops
      out by Sept. 1, 2008.

      Democratic leaders have not negotiated a final version
      to send the president. Bush has made clear he will
      veto it, which will start the process all over.

      ``We're going to fund the troops. We always have,''
      Levin said. He added, ``We're very strong in
      supporting the troops, but we're also strong on
      putting pressure on the Iraqi leaders to live up to
      their own commitments without that political
      settlement on their part, there is no military

      Reid, D-Nev., said last week that if Bush rejects the
      Democrats' legislation, he would join with Sen. Russ
      Feingold, D-Wis., one of the party's most liberal
      members who has long called to end the war by denying
      funding for it. Reid's latest proposal would give the
      president one year to get troops out, ending funding
      for combat operations after March 31, 2008.

      ``We can keep the benchmarks part of the bill without
      saying that the troops must begin to come back within
      four months,'' Levin said. ``If that doesn't work and
      the president vetoes because of that, and he will,
      then that part of it is removed, because we're going
      to fund the troops.

      ``And what we will leave will be benchmarks, for
      instance, which would require the president to certify
      to the American people if the Iraqis are meeting the
      benchmarks for political settlement, which they, the
      Iraqi leaders, have set for themselves,'' he said.

      Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said it is unacceptable to set
      a goal and timetable for withdrawing the troops. He
      said lawmakers who support that are basing it on a
      false notion that the Iraqis are not listening to the
      United States.

      ``I was over there about a month ago. We saw the
      reaction of the Iraqis. They are cooperating with us.
      So that's old news that they're not cooperating.
      That's one of the reasons this new surge strategy is
      working,'' he said.

      Kyl said withholding money from troops with the aim of
      sending a message to Iraqis that they must do better
      would be self-defeating.

      ``You're also sending a message to our troops and to
      our enemies, who know that all they have to do is wait
      the conflict out. This is not the way to try to
      micromanage a war from the U.S. Senate,'' he said.

      Levin and Kyl were interviewed on ``This Week'' on