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Congress Not Likely to Hold Up War Funds

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Here's NPR's Brian Naylor.

BRIAN NAYLOR: Democratic leaders have long been saying they intend to use the tool of oversight to require President Bush to justify his policies in Iraq and all but ruled out exercising their power of the purse to block funding for the war, but that approach is now being openly challenged by anti-war Democrats led by Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy. He outlined his proposal at a speech at the National Press Club yesterday.

EDWARD KENNEDY: Our bill will say that no additional troops can be sent and no additional dollars can be spent on such an escalation unless and until Congress approves the president's plan.

NAYLOR: Another prominent anti-war Democrat, Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, told The Wall Street Journal he's considering a similar course of action, possibly limiting the use of new funds for the deployment of Army troops in Iraq to a year. Murtha, who chairs the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee in the House, is in a position to implement such a plan. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, told reporters yesterday that Kennedy's proposal was an idea that will be looked at, but indicated Democrats would prefer a bipartisan course of action.

HARRY REID: What we're going to work toward, if the speech is as we think it's going to be, is a bipartisan statement on the president's escalation. And we believe that there are a number of Republicans who will join with us to say no to escalation.

NAYLOR: Senator MITCH MCCONNELL (Republican, Kentucky; Senate Minority Leader) I think it is inappropriate for the Congress to try to micromanage in effect the tactics in a military conflict. I don't think Congress has the authority to do it; I don't think it would be good at it. You can't run a war by a committee of, you know, 435 in the House and 100 in the Senate.

NAYLOR: Brian Naylor, NPR News, the Capitol.

INSKEEP: Here's one prediction for what may happen or not happen in Congress. NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving says internal divisions are likely to keep Democrats from blocking the president's troop plan. And you can read Elving's "Watching Washington" column at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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