Woolsey co-sponsors Iraqi reconciliation funding

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., today introduced a bill which would provide four consecutive years of funding to strengthen existing programs already underway to foster reconciliation among Iraq’s societal factions.

woolsey.jpg“So long as Iraq remains divided based along ethnic and sectarian lines the situation on the ground will remain chaotic and violent, giving Iraq little chance of rebuilding itself, or of delivering a better life for the Iraqi people,” Woolsey — a House Foreign Relations Committee member; Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman; and Out of Iraq Caucus co-founder — said in her news release.

“The Iraqi people know this to be true, so we must support their efforts if we are welcome. Reconciliation lies at the heart of this endeavor, and the United States Institute for Peace has a strong track record of effectively creating programs that bring neighbors and one-time adversaries together, with positive results.”

Shays said H.R. 5925, based on a recommendation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, would allocate $20 million annually for four years to the USIP, which since 2004 has been working to prevent sectarian violence at the local level; develop leaders in schools, universities, government, and civil society; promote the rule of law; engage women in public life; and increase regional stability.

And — by various estimates of current spending levels — the entire annual cost of the effort would be equal to about two hours of combat operations in Iraq.

UPDATE @ 2:25 P.M. WEDNESDAY: It seems this post has become part of a debate on partisanship, bi-partisanship and post-partisanship over at Open Left. Is Woolsey wrong to co-sponsor a bill with a vulnerable Republican, even if the bill is something most Democrats can get behind? Personally, I’d say that if a bill is good policy and bi-partisan co-authorship gives it a better chance of passing, then go for the gusto. (And for all you watching for a bias, I’m not talking about this particular bill; I’m speaking generally, and I think this cuts both ways.)

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.

  • IntheKnow

    But if we left Iraq, we would have to leave THE OIL behind. And there goes the half a trillion dollar investment in US tax funds. There’s be no problem united the Iraqis around a fair share of the country’s resources but that’s not why we barged in there and that’s not what we want. We want their oil and that’s why the so-called phony Al Queda in Iraqi, the “criminals”, the “terrorists” are all Iraqis fighting us to preserve their resources and sovereignty.