Lawmakers warn administration of cuts in Iraq aid
Thursday, February 03, 2022 7:18 PM

Related Stories

(Source: Associated Press/AP Online)By DONNA CASSATA

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration needs to make a compelling case for investing billions more taxpayer dollars in Iraq as the nearly 8-year-old conflict recedes from the public's mind and the remaining 50,000 U.S. troops leave by year's end, top Senate Republicans and Democrats warned military and diplomatic officials on Thursday.

Amid fresh Republican promises to slash spending, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee cautioned U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of the U.S. military in Iraq, of the intense pressure to cut dollars for Iraq.

Under the November 2008 security agreement between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, all U.S. military forces will withdraw from Iraq at the end of December and the operation will shift to a civilian-led effort by the State Department. Persuading budget-conscious lawmakers to back foreign aid for Iraq, rather than military money, makes the task harder, said several committee members.

"Failure is not an option in Iraq and we must be prepared to bear the cost to ensure success, including the costs of our civilian operations and development programs, which will be substantial however this transition plays out," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the committee. "Congress cannot shortchange this mission now."

Since the March 2003 invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime, more than 4,300 Americans have died and the U.S. has spent some $750 billion on the war. Republicans now in charge in the House and tea party-backed newcomers are clamoring for deep spending cuts and have signaled that military dollars and foreign aid should be part of the calculation.

In a pre-emptive move, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed a $78 billion cut in future spending. And even before he makes his case for the Defense Department budget later this month, Gates met at the Pentagon early Thursday with several of the newest members of the Senate - Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republicans John Hoeven of North Dakota and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Manchin said he is trying to get a sense of whether the U.S. investment matches the demands faced overseas.

"All the resources that we put into this, the restructuring that we're doing, trying to build an economy for them and we get no return on that," he said in an interview. "That's a hard thing for me and West Virginia to understand."

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said that as the Iraq mission shifts from the military to the State Department it will be difficult to persuade lawmakers to fund the operation.

Jeffrey estimated the cost would be around $5 billion for the effort in the next budget, down from around $75 billion the U.S. spent this year on the military effort. Still, it would amount to the single largest program in the State Department budget and would compete with demands from Afghanistan and other foreign aid.

"If we don't sustain this effort, then we have invested a lot of blood and lives and material in an effort that could be frustrated. That would be a tragedy," Reed said.

The volatility in the region also makes a concerted U.S. effort imperative, lawmakers said.

"We disregard Iraq at great peril," McCain said.

"Iraq will continue to need support in building its capabilities to meet internal and external threats for years to come after 2011," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the committee.

Austin said the United States is on track to withdraw its military forces by year's end. That would leave a diplomatic mission of about 17,000 people at 15 sites throughout the country, including three air hubs and three police training centers as well as consulates, embassy offices and Office of Security Cooperation sites.

Several Republicans, including McCain, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, expressed concern about leaving the civilian operation without U.S. military protection. Jeffrey and Austin indicated that the Iraqis have made progress in ensuring their own internal security but external defenses are lacking.

"Would it be wise, from an Iraqi-U.S. point of view, that that vacuum not be completely - that we not create a complete vacuum?" Graham pressed the officials.

Jeffrey and Austin were reluctant to speculate as the 2008 agreement has set the stage for U.S. withdrawal and the Iraqis have given no indication that they want Americans to remain.

"We are always happy to have U.S. military security," Jeffrey said.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.



Symbol :


Market news:

  • Giffords' astronaut husband decides to fly shuttle Feb 04, 2022 02:22 PM

    • CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The astronaut husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will head to space in April, a decision announced almost one month to the day that his wife was shot in the head.
    • NASA confirmed late Friday morning that Kelly will be aboard Endeavour as commander of the two-week mission.
    • He is holding a news conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Friday afternoon.
      • With no room to put snow, Eastern waterways beckon Feb 04, 2022 02:02 PM

        • BOSTON - Imagine the East Coast's largest cities mixing a brew of salt, motor oil, trash and grocery carts and dumping it into rivers and harbors.
        • It's allowed in emergency situations, and some officials staring at massive snow mountains in densely populated areas of the winter-walloped Northeast say that time is now, even as others warn dumping snow in water comes with big problems.
        • "There's a lot of stuff in this snow that if I isolated it and threw it in the river, you'd have me arrested," said John Lipscomb of the New York-based environmental group Riverkeeper.
          • Mass anti-Mubarak protest celebrates after battles Feb 04, 2022 01:53 PM

            • CAIRO - Tens of thousands packed central Cairo Friday, waving flags and singing the national anthem, emboldened in their campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak after they repelled pro-regime attackers in two days of bloody street fights.
            • Thousands including families with children flowed over bridges across the Nile into Tahrir Square, showing they were not intimidated after Mubarak supporters hurled concrete, metal and firebombs at them and fighters on horses and camels trampled them in fighting that began Wednesday afternoon and lasted until Thursday night.
            • The Obama administration said it was discussing several possibilities with Cairo - including one for Mubarak to leave office now and hand over power to a military-backed transitional government.
              • Snow falls on Big D 2 days before Super Bowl Feb 04, 2022 01:28 PM

                • DALLAS - Five inches of snow are on the ground in the Dallas suburb hosting the Super Bowl, just two days before the big game.
                • The National Weather Service said Arlington, home to $1.3 billion Cowboys Stadium, was among the areas of North Texas that had the largest accumulation Friday morning.
                • The overnight snowstorm was the latest in a Super Bowl week full of winter weather in a normally temperate climate.
                  • Ron Reagan: Palin has nothing in common with dad Feb 04, 2022 01:28 PM

                    • LOS ANGELES - Sarah Palin is honoring one Reagan and offending another with the same speech.
                    • The former Alaska governor is scheduled to speak in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Friday at a tribute to former President Ronald Reagan - just one of the celebrations marking the centennial of the 40th president's birth on Feb. 6.
                    • But his son, Ron Reagan, tells The Associated Press he doesn't see anything in common between his dad and the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, who was invited to speak by the event's sponsor, the conservative Young America's Foundation.

                      More news


    Recent Estimates

AnalystFirm NameSymbolEPS Estimate
ABN SkateNFC AMZN$0.88
danPersonal BAC$0.19
samXXXXX JCI$0.54
brobbrinc INTC$0.53