Monday, January 22, 2007
House Republicans demand more accountability from administration on Iraq
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush was put on notice Monday when House members of his own party demanded more accountability from the administration on the Iraq war as the president prepares to send additional troops into the fight.
CNN has learned that House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other key House Republican leaders who support the president's proposal for a surge, will demand that the president report every 30 days to Congress the progress that the Iraqi government and the administration is making in the war.
A senior GOP aide said that House Republican leaders will lay out a series of strategic benchmarks "so Congress can determine and articulate to the American people whether or not sufficient progress is being made."
This aide noted that President Bush has said the U.S. commitment in Iraq is not open ended, and this is a move by Republicans to say, "This message from Congress to both the Administration and the Iraqi government is that Congress' commitment is not open-ended either and we expect real, tangible results."
The aide said these benchmarks will look at three prongs of the Iraq strategy -- military, political, and social. For example, Congress will ask for details to measure the performance of the Iraqi police force and measure the Iraqi investment in combat training. The political benchmarks will ask for information on how Iraqis are "developing a strategy on tolerance."
Boehner will send a letter to Speaker Pelosi, D-California, suggesting the formation of a new bi-partisan panel devoted exclusively to Iraq oversight, a senior GOP aide tells CNN. Boehner's request of a new panel is an attempt to show that his party is leading Iraq oversight process even though Democrat's successfully campaigned on the issue, Republicans say.
Asked whether the White House was consulted on the benchmarks or the request for reporting, this aide said, "the White House has been informed."
The leadership came up with this plan after a series of "listening sessions" with rank and file GOP members. Boehner tapped Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Michigan, to head up these sessions. This proposal will be detailed in a letter from the GOP leaders to Pelosi. The GOP aide said the Republican leadership is also in the process of examining whether to put this plan in a Congressional resolution.
-- CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Andrea Koppel
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