Senate Leaders Prep for More Debate on Iraq The Senate is preparing for President Bush's latest remarks on Iraq and another round of debate on the war in Iraq. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada offer their insights in an NPR interview.
NPR logo

Senate Leaders Prep for More Debate on Iraq

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/14394886/14394865" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Senate Leaders Prep for More Debate on Iraq

Senate Leaders Prep for More Debate on Iraq

Senate Leaders Prep for More Debate on Iraq

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/14394886/14394865" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

As President Bush prepares to address the nation on Iraq Thursday evening, leaders of both parties in the Senate are preparing for another round of debate on the war.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky share their insights on the upcoming discussions with Michele Norris.

Reid says that the testimony from Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has not changed his opinions on the war, and he still intends to try to limit the U.S. mission there.

He proposes that American troops begin to return home in significant numbers, and the troops that remain be used for counterterrorism and protecting U.S. assets. He also says that he might advocate using U.S. troops to help train Iraqis on a very limited basis.

Reid says that it has been difficult for the Democrats to garner enough votes on Iraq legislation because their majority is very slim, and that he supports the amendment sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) that grants military forces as much time at home as they spend in Iraq.

He is skeptical about Republicans who have expressed interest in working with the Democrats on Iraq.

McConnell, who says Republicans are generally satisfied with Petraeus' report and will likely support it, says the Democrats' plan is to "surrender as fast as possible."

"We don't want to precipitously to withdraw overseas and invite the terrorists back onto U.S. soil. We need to be in that area over a lengthy period of time to be able to go after al-Qaida and to be able to provide a not-so-subtle reminder to the Iranians," McConnell says.

He foresees a long-term mission in Iraq similar to the U.S. deployment in South Korea — which does not necessarily mean combat on a daily basis, but some pre-positioned troops that would enable the U.S. to protect itself abroad and at home.