- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2007

It’s doubtful that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will become any less obstructionist in the wake of Wednesday’s White House talks with President Bush on the Iraq/Afghanistan war supplemental funding bill. For all their eloquence about how they “support the troops,” Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Reid and their Democratic colleagues have embarked on a course that will inevitably delay much-needed reinforcement for the men and women on the ground in Iraq.

As of yesterday morning, Mrs. Pelosi had refused to even appoint House conferees to negotiate with the Senate over the Iraq. As we previously noted, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and eight of his Republican colleagues sent Mrs. Pelosi a letter criticizing her failure to appoint conferees to work on the legislation. The letter quoted Defense Secretary Robert Gates warning that continued delay would damage readiness and “impose hardships on our soldiers.” Noting that the Senate had already returned from vacation, Mr. McConnell and his colleagues asked Mrs. Pelosi to cancel the remainder of the House vacation in order to return to Washington and “work in good faith” to pass a supplemental bill the president could sign. Mrs. Pelosi ignored them.

As Mrs. Pelosi continued to delay appointing conferees (the Senate made its appointments last month), the military warns of a fiscal squeeze that left unaddressed, could undermine the ability of troops in the field to do their job. “I am also frustrated that we don’t get our appropriations on time,” Gen. Richard Cody, Army vice chief of staff, told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (chaired by Rep. John Murtha, a Pelosi confidante) on Tuesday. “Our troops deserve better. We’re throttle-back, and the last place we want to scale back is Afghanistan and Iraq.” The delay also jeopardizes funding for weapons, and a spending slowdown would hurt the readiness of units that are not deployed, he said.

In response to these concerns, the Democrats cite a report by the Congressional Research Service which suggests that under certain scenarios, the Army has enough money to make it through July. But as the Weekly Standard demonstrates on its blog, the same report says the Army “may very well” decide to to take actions such as “limiting facility maintenance and repairs” and “delaying equipment overhauls” and “perhaps slowing down training.” This is hardly reassuring. Some House Democrats are even suggesting they would only agree to provide money in two-month increments, which would disrupt the Defense Department’s ability to plan long-term operations.

In sum, for all their professed regard for the troops on the ground, Democrats appear perfectly willing to see combat operations disrupted and troops going without needed supplies in order to score some political points against the president.

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