Hoyer, Dems Stand Ground on 'Blank Check' for Iraq

WASHINGTON (Dec. 4, 2007)—Southern Maryland's U.S. Representative and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D) and fellow Democrats continue to stand their ground against President Bush on the latest "emergency" funding for the occupation in Iraq. The rhetoric between the White House and Congress has continued to heat up since late last week.

The President is seeking billions more to sustain the effort in Iraq. Hoyer says the President is seeking a blank check. “The President, once again, reiterated his demand for a blank check for the war in Iraq – a blank check that the American people and Democrats in Congress oppose.”

President Bush objects to language in the House legislation that requires the redeployment of troops in Iraq within 30 days of enactment. The bill also requires that troops be fully trained and equipped and prohibits torture--even though the latter is already illegal.

Hoyer today commented: “The fact is, the House has passed legislation providing $50 billion to fund our troops in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan. We believe it is absolutely imperative that they receive the resources they need and deserve. However, the President and his allies in Congress continue to obstruct this legislation because it includes a goal to redeploy our troops by December 15, 2008, prohibits torture and demands that our troops be fully trained and equipped. These are reasonable, responsible measures. The President should work with Congress on this legislation, rather than continuing to issue demands that are not supported by the American people.”

When it became obvious that the Congress was not going to easily capitulate to unfettered funding, as it always has in the past, President Bush stepped up the political pressure by threatening that DoD civilians and contractors would face layoffs.

Hoyer yesterday responded: “The President should stop using scare tactics regarding military furloughs since independent observers agree that the Defense Department – which just received a $459 billion appropriation from Congress – has the funding it needs to support our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan through mid-February.”

Political analysts have long predicted that politicians in both political parties would start to take a harder stance against the occupation in Iraq as the 2008 presidential election drew closer. Polls show that most Americans are in favor of withdrawal, disappointed with the estimated 1.5 trillion-dollar bill for the war, and more concerned about domestic issues such as the failing U.S. dollar, health care, a crumbling national infrastructure, loss of American jobs to low-wage nations, and illegal immigration.

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