Boehner offers to help Obama on Afghanistan
By Ben Pershing
One day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she wouldn't help President Obama round up votes to support his troop surge in Afghanistan, an offer of assistance came forth from an unlikely source -- House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
"I think the president has made a responsible decision with regard to our plan to succeed in Afghanistan, and I will work to make sure that our troops get everything they need in order to succeed," Boehner said at his regular press briefing Thursday, after being asked about the Speaker's remarks.
Pelosi, who has expressed personal misgivings about the wisdom of sending more troops to Afghanistan, made clear Wednesday that many members of her caucus felt the same way about the war and that she had promised not to "ever ask them to vote for it" again. With a supplemental appropriation of at least $30 billion necessary next year to pay for the added troops, a significant bloc of Democratic opposition in the House means that the funding will have to pass with GOP support. That's where Boehner comes in.
"We've got to get these troops in there as quickly as possible," the Ohio Republican said, later adding: "I believe a supplemental spending bill that supports our troops in the field is vital, and I will be there to support it."
When Obama first announced his plan for Afghanistan in a speech at West Point, Boehner and many other Republicans were wary, saying they had concerns about Obama's plan "to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011." But after speaking to members of the military and administration officials, Boehner said during a meeting with Obama last week that he was comfortable with the strategy, and he reiterated that point Thursday.
"I told the president at the White House that I had listened to his speech, I had listened to Secretary Clinton, to Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and our commander in the field, General McChrystal," Boehner said. "And I think they presented a plausible plan for success in Afghanistan.... I think there's enough flexibility with the so-called withdrawal date."
Boehner is less supportive of another Obama plan. He and many GOP colleagues on the Hill staunchly oppose the administration's proposal to transfer some detainees from Guantanamo Bay to a maximum-security prison in Illinois. So when Boehner was asked if he would support a supplemental spending bill if it also included money for the transfer plan, he made clear the answer was "no."
"I am not going to support a bill that -- that facilitates bringing Gitmo prisoners to the United States," he said.
December 17, 2009; 5:32 PM ET
Categories: Capitol Briefing
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