Saturday, February 10, 2007

Boren Opposes Bush's Troop Escalation

I visited with Pittsburg County Democrats in McAlester on Thursday and most of their questions were about Bush's war in Iraq. Pittsburg County is in the heart of CD2 represented by Rep. Dan Boren. In a story in the Oklahoman today he blasts Bush's troop escalation and calls, again, for benchmarks in the war. In more than one conversation recently I'm hearing strong support for the warriors and strong opposition to the war. Read the story about Boren below.

Boren siding with vote against Bush

By Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Rep. Dan Boren, a conservative Democrat who has sided with Republicans on many national security votes, said Friday that he will support a resolution expressing disapproval of President Bush's plan to send about 20,000 more troops to Iraq.

"I just think we need to send a message to the president that we need a new strategy,” Boren said in an interview.

But as the House prepares for a three-day debate — scheduled to begin Tuesday — about the president's decision to add troops, Rep. Tom Cole blasted Democrats for pushing a resolution that he called "a political stunt.”

"This is not a useful or helpful exercise,” said Cole, R-Moore. "I think it tells the enemy to keep it up, that there's division at home. I think it makes the American troops wonder: ‘Why are we here?'”

Boren and Cole serve on the House Armed Services Committee and have traveled to Iraq and the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay together.

Despite their party differences, they have been allies on many national security issues.

Becoming impatient
But Boren, who has been calling for more than a year for benchmarks to measure progress in Iraq, has become increasingly impatient with the situation in Iraq and doesn't think adding more U.S. troops will help.

"This is a tactic that we have tried in the past and it is one that has not worked,” Boren said. "I hope it works.”

House Democratic leaders have not released the wording of the nonbinding resolution that will be offered on the House floor next week, but Boren said he has been told it will simply state disapproval of the plan to add troops.

A House leader told reporters on Thursday that it will also express support for the troops in the field.

"If that is the case, I will plan to support it,” Boren said, adding that he thinks nearly every Democrat in the House and many Republicans will vote for it.

And Boren, the only Democrat in Oklahoma's congressional delegation, said he thinks the debate is healthy.

Exchange of ideas
"We live in a democracy and it's important to have an exchange of ideas,” he said. "It's refreshing that we now have a Congress where you can have this open debate.”

Cole said House members can debate Iraq in various ways on the House floor without voting on a resolution that has no legal effect.

If Democrats want to change the terms of U.S. involvement in Iraq, he said, they should offer legislation that actually has the force of law.

"They're in the majority now,” Cole said. "This is not about making rhetorical points. It's about making policy.

"I think they ought to be embarrassed by what they're doing — to take up three days of floor time to do nothing.

"If it's not the right thing to have troops there, let's take the steps necessary to bring them home.”

An effort in the Senate last week to bring up a nonbinding resolution on the troop build-up in Iraq was thwarted by Republicans. GOP senators argued that they should be able to offer an alternative expressing support.

Some House Democrats want to see more concrete action taken to challenge the Bush administration on Iraq, and there could be some moves later to restrict funding for the additional troops.

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