2266Levin: Senate Will Keep Paying for War
- Apr 8, 2007http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6541748,00.html
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
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
``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