Hoyer Mum on Need for More Troops

Posted October 6, 2009 at 1:08pm

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday shed no light on whether he supports sending more troops into Afghanistan, an issue that has divided key members of his party.“I don’t want to be flip, but I intend to give my advice and counsel to the president first, not to all of you first,— Hoyer told reporters. “I have some views and I’ll probably express them at some point in time in the future after I meet with the president.—Hoyer is one of more than 30 Congressional leaders and committee chairmen heading to the White House this afternoon for a bipartisan, bicameral meeting on the strategy in Afghanistan. The goal of the meeting is “to walk them through where we are in the process and solicit their views,— White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday. Hoyer echoed the views of many on the Hill when calling for Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, to testify to Congress about his assessment of the situation on the ground.“I continue to believe and recommend that Gen. McChrystal, at some point in time, in the relatively near future, before we make any determination as to what we should do, testify before the Congress,— Hoyer said. The Majority Leader said he has talked to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and “essentially he, too, wants to fully vet Gen. McChrystal’s assessment.—Hoyer sidestepped questions about whether he thinks House Members have the appetite to fund another round of troop increases. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said that Congress and the country lack the will to support sending tens of thousands of troops to the region.Other key Democrats remain divided on the strategy going forward: House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (Mo.) has urged more resolve in Afghanistan, while Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (Mich.) opposes sending more troops until the United States speeds up its training of Afghan security forces. Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman John Murtha (Pa.) continues to raise concerns about the high costs associated with troop increases.“This is a very, very thorny issue,— Hoyer added.