LaHood, GOP Hone Strategy on Iraq Vote

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Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) Iand Iraqi Deputy PM Barham Salih. Credit: Erik de Castro-Pool/Getty Images. i

U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL, right) speaks to Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and acting Minister of State for National Security Barham Salih at the U.S. Ambassador's house in Baghdad on June 2, 2006. Erik de Castro-Pool/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Erik de Castro-Pool/Getty Images
Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) Iand Iraqi Deputy PM Barham Salih. Credit: Erik de Castro-Pool/Getty Images.

U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL, right) speaks to Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister and acting Minister of State for National Security Barham Salih at the U.S. Ambassador's house in Baghdad on June 2, 2006.

Erik de Castro-Pool/Getty Images

Some Republicans who support the proposed House resolution opposing the Iraq troop buildup find themselves on delicate political ground. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) talks with Renee Montagne about the GOP strategy, and splits within the caucus.

What are you hearing from your constituents as this debate continues?

Well, like I think probably most members of the House, mine is a mixed bag.

I spoke on the floor last evening around 7:30 and people in our office were answering the phones, from frankly people all over the country. I think when they see us projected on television they call.

I think a slight majority in my district support our efforts, but it is mixed. There's no question about it. This war has conflicted many, many people in this country.

And when you say, "support your efforts," you mean your effort to vote no on the resolution?

I'm going to vote no on the resolution. I'm going to continue to support our efforts in Iraq. I'm going to continue to support the new plan put forth by President Bush.

And I do think that a slight majority of people in central and west-central Illinois, the 20 counties that I represent, continue to support our efforts and believe that me must succeed in Iraq.

Could you sum up the case you made on the House floor for your position?

Well, it was almost along the [same] lines as the conclusion of your [preceding] report. [Editor's Note: Rep. LaHood is referring to 'Iraqi Debaters Break Up into Blocs'] Which is, this is the beginning. This resolution, here in the waning hours of the debate and the vote on Friday, is the first step.

The next step is that we will have a supplemental, which means the president will send a request to Congress in about two weeks for an additional amount of money, an enormous amount of money, to continue the effort. And Democrats, led by Congressman [John P.] Murtha (D-PA) and Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi (D-CA) will attempt to curtail the funds that can be used by those that are doing the hard work. And that will be a very spirited, emotional debate if Democrats, led by the speaker and Congressman Murtha, try and cut off funds for our troops.

The Democratic leaders have said they would never cut off all funds for troops. But, yesterday on this program, Democratic Congressman John Murtha did say he would seek to limit the president's attempt to send more troops to Iraq by requiring that certain "readiness" standards are met. What do you say to that?

The answer to that is, that's a very fine way of saying we're going to cut off the money for the troops. And that's why I say it will be the most emotional and spirited debate since this war started more than three years ago.

You can say it any way you want to say it. But they're going to try and realign the money. They're going to try and curtail the money. They're going to try and do things that have not by tried before, to really, what I call micromanage the war by limiting the amount of money that's available for the men and women, and their commanders, in the field.

It's been reported that as many as 30 Republicans may vote in favor of the resolution against the president's plan. This would seem to be quite a rebuke.

There's about 200 Republicans in the House. If you look at those numbers, I think you're probably right. Between 25 and 30 will vote for the resolution and that's not a majority, but it's a number that I think reflects the kind of war fatigue that exists around the country.

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