Murtha proposes bill to
choke funding for surge
By Eric Pfeiffer
Times" -- -- Rep. John P. Murtha,
Pennsylvania Democrat, yesterday announced plans to
introduce legislation that would cut off funding for
President Bush's proposed surge of American troops into
"I think our hearings will show that even Republicans
will vote with us when the bill finally comes up," Mr.
Murtha, chairman of the Appropriations defense
subcommittee, said during an appearance on ABC's "This
Mr. Murtha said that he doesn't think Democrats can stop
Mr. Bush from instituting the first wave of a troop
surge, but that his panel will be able to pass
legislation to stop further waves within a month. "I
don't know how many troops they can get in the field
before we get our bill up and passed in the Congress,"
White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters last week
that Mr. Bush already has the funds needed to support a
troop surge. "Funding for the forces and to dispatch
them to the region, it's already in the budget," he
said. "So we're going to proceed with those plans."
But Mr. Murtha told ABC, "We're going to have extensive
hearings, and we're going to look at exactly how much
money he has."
"And we're going to try to change the direction of this
war," he said.
Vice President Dick Cheney said any such effort would be
"undercutting" U.S. forces. Moderator Chris Wallace, on
"Fox News Sunday," asked Mr. Cheney what he would say to
"members of Congress who may try to block" the troop
increase. "Would they be, in effect, undercutting the
"Well, I think they would be," Mr. Cheney said. "We have
these meetings with members of Congress, and they all
agree we can't fail; the consequences of failure would
be too great. But then they end up critical of what
we're trying to do, advocating withdrawal or so-called
redeployment of force, but they have absolutely nothing
to offer in its place."
Mr. Murtha rejected Mr. Cheney's argument that opposing
a troop surge amounted to not supporting the troops.
"We're giving the troops exactly what they need," he
said. "As a matter of fact, I'm the one that discovered
the lack of body armor. They sent troops in without body
armor. They sent an inadequate force into Iraq in the
first place. There's no question about my support of the
military." Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and a
vocal proponent of sending more U.S. troops to Iraq,
said a congressional debate over the surge likely will
help the public better understand what the plan means.
"I think the case still needs to be made," he said on
CBS' "Face the Nation." "I'd be glad to have that
Mr. McCain also said he thinks that Democrats who oppose
a surge should make their legislation binding. Several
Democrats, including Massachusetts Sen. Edward M.
Kennedy, have proposed a nonbinding "disapproval" of a
"Look, if these people are serious, that oppose this
increase in troops and change in strategy, then they
should vote to cut off funding. And that way, they can
then say, 'We tried to stop it,' " Mr. McCain said. "A
motion of disapproval, I view, as purely a political
ploy to do further damage to the president of the United
States. If they're dead serious, then we should have a
motion to cut off funding."
Sen. Barack Obama, also appearing on "Face the Nation,"
refused to answer when asked whether he would support a
binding measure to cut off funding for a troop surge. "I
think this thing is going to proceed in steps," the
Illinois Democrat said.
Copyright © 2007 News World Communications, Inc. All