Iraq Issue Likely to Dominate New Congress
JOHN YDSTIE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm John Ydstie sitting in for Steve Inskeep.
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Joining us now is NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts. Good morning.
COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Well, first up, The New York Times is reporting today on a draft report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. And of course keeping in mind that this is a report about something that's not yet a final document and we've heard a lot about it, are there any surprises?
ROBERTS: Apparently it does call for direct talks with Iran and Syria, which the administration has found problematic at best. The president, as you said, is headed to Jordan. And King Abdullah of Jordan yesterday said on ABC that he is concerned that there are three potential civil wars in the Middle East region, not just Iraq, but among the Palestinians and in Lebanon. So the president goes at a very difficult time as this report is leaking out and as the United States Congress is beginning to lose patience with the politicians in Iraq. Republican Senators Sam Brownback of Kansas and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska yesterday made that impatience very clear.
MONTAGNE: And as the newly elected Democratic Congress starts asserting itself, what impact is that likely to have on policy?
ROBERTS: But also those investigations that we've talked about are clearly going to happen pretty quickly. Congressman John Dingell, who is the incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and is a stickler for oversight, has said that he is going to start investigations pretty quickly. He argues that this administration has had hardly any oversight. He's going to take a look at the contracts in Iraq,so that would be one way of getting in Iraq. Not to mention the Medicare drug benefits, where he says there's been lots and lots of scandal.
MONTAGNE: And what about all the talk of bipartisanship?
ROBERTS: Well, there's a lot of talk still of bipartisanship, and I think they'll start off trying to be bipartisan. But that goes by the boards very quickly when you have this degree of animus and also these kinds of issues where people genuinely, vehemently disagree. So I wouldn't hold my breath on bipartisanship.
MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks very much. NPR News analyst Cokie Roberts.
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