Democrats Revise Agenda To Deal With War in Iraq
Democratic leaders who had hoped to emphasize their domestic agenda in the opening weeks of Congress have concluded that Iraq will share top billing, and they plan on aggressively confronting administration officials this week in a series of hearings.The American people want this President held accountable especially for the quagmire he has created in Mesopotamia. As Paul Krugman reminded us this morning Bush is unwilling and/or unable to admit he made a mistake. It is up to the congress to make it clear to the American people that a major mistake that threatens the well being of this country was made and that Bush's "stay the course" is a path to disaster. Iraq is what the voters are concerned about.
Pushed by House members who want a quick, tough response to the Iraq strategy President Bush is expected to announce this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has backed off from her initial assertion that nothing should detract attention from the legislation she hopes to pass in the first 100 hours of House debate.
Late last week, she summoned the chairmen of the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, intelligence, Homeland Security, and Oversight and Government Reform committees to plot a series of hearings. On Thursday, Democrats will call Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to defend the war-strategy shift Bush will outline in a nationally televised speech.
A House Armed Services Committee hearing with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, planned for Jan. 19 was abruptly moved to this Thursday after consultations with Pelosi. And leadership aides went to work on a response to Bush's speech that they hope will be delivered on national television after the president's appearance.
In the Senate, the Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings Wednesday on the current situation in Iraq, then grill Rice on the president's plan Thursday. Pace and Gates will go before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday.
A CBS News poll released Thursday found that 45 percent of voters want the Democratic Congress to focus on Iraq, a figure that far outstripped the percentages for the economy and jobs, at 7 percent; health care, at 7 percent; and immigration, at 6 percent. "Americans couldn't be clearer," the poll report concluded.Investigation and oversight is what the voters expect the Democrats to do - that's why they put them in the majority.