Bay Area House members pitch Iraq plans

The House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, held a hearing today on several proposed pieces of legislation on Iraq.

lee2.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, testified about her legislation, H.Con.Res. 46, which she introduced Jan. 29 to declare that it’s the policy of the United States not to establish permanent military bases in Iraq. She said such a declaration is important both to deprive insurgents of a key recruiting tactic, as well as to clear up confusion within the Bush Administration.

“When the President was asked last October who would make the decision staying in Iraq permanently, the President said it was the Iraqis who would make this decision,” she said in a news release afterward. “This is different from the answer that Secretary Gates made when he was asked the same question while testifying before the Senate. Secretary Gates seemed to think that we had final say on whether we were in Iraq permanently.”

tauscher3.jpgRep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, testified about the “Change the Course in Iraq Act” she’d introduced March 9 to condition future funding for the Iraqi government on it meeting benchmarks laid out by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group; she said the bill compliments the Emergency Supplemental spending bill under consideration this week, but doesn’t compete with it.

“We carefully crafted this so that funding for protective equipment for our troops is not cut, and also to send a clear message to the Iraqi government that it is time for them to accept responsibility for governing,” she told the committee. “Our bill will force the Iraqi government to take on a greater role stabilizing Iraq, because we understand that no amount of American troops or humvees can bring about the political reconciliation necessary to end Iraq’s civil war.”

lantos.jpgAnd Lantos himself today introduced the Iraq Reconstruction Improvement Act, which he told the committee is aimed at fixing a program “beset by gross corruption and massive American and Iraqi bureaucratic confusion. The Iraqi people, hoping that the fall of Saddam would bring peace and prosperity to their country, have instead been handed half-built hospitals, failed water projects, and a power grid that is more off than on.”

His bill, he said, would boost anti-corruption efforts; improve transparency and accountability for how taxpayer dollars are spent; provide technical assistance to Iraqi ministries to improve the administration of reconstruction programs, including programs providing basic services to the Iraqi people; address the plight of Iraqi refugees and those displaced within Iraq; and prevent further reconstruction debacles.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • OaklanderAlso

    What is Pelosi so afraid of? Why won’t she let Barbara Lee’s bill come before the House for an up or down vote before her resolution comes before the House? Is Pelosi afraid that the people might see that there are, in fact, larger numbers of Congresspersons willing to support a progressive measure than we know of, and judge her compromise measure accordingly?

    Why is MoveOn.org unwilling to support allowing Barbara Lee’s bill to be introduced at least?

    Is Pelosi really interested in brokering a peace, or is she ultimately interested in the preservation of her own power?