Pelosi Shoots Down Prospect of Troop Increases

Posted September 10, 2009 at 1:00pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Congress lacks the will to back another round of troop increases to Afghanistan, where the news is dominated by escalating violence and accusations of government corruption.

“I don’t think there’s a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan, in the country or in the Congress,— Pelosi said.

Her comments set up a possible showdown with the White House, which is mulling more troop deployments pending the advice of military leaders. Pelosi’s remarks also clash with those of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who said Tuesday that he thinks Democrats support President Barack Obama’s plan to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

“I think Members largely believe that … unfortunately, in 2003, we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan, and we didn’t finish the job that we set out to do,— Hoyer said.

The Majority Leader avoided saying whether he backed more troop deployments, although he suggested it is premature to focus on troop increases before seeing Obama’s plan.

“We want to see a plan that Members conclude can be successful,— he said.

Pelosi and Hoyer have yet to be briefed on a classified report released last week by the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal. The report, which assesses the military situation and revamps counterinsurgency plans, does not specifically seek a troop increase but relies more heavily on troops.

Pelosi said she expects to briefed on McChrystal’s plan as soon as next week, but noted that she is more interested in another report due to Congress on Sept. 24.

That date “is fraught with meaning for us,— Pelosi said. “This is the date, according to the supplemental, that the metrics as to what’s going on in Afghanistan are to be reported to Congress.—

Some anti-war critics are already bracing for a battle between Congress and the White House once the dust settles over health care reform and Obama seeks more money to continue the war.

“The president will not end the war. Congress will,— Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said. “And the only way Congress can end it is to stop the funds.—