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House Members Respond to Iraq Status Report

Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker appeared before Congress Monday to report on progress in the Iraq war. Four House members debate the next steps.

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    Now, four House members who participated in today's hearing. Lynn Woolsey is a Democrat from California. Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina. Donald Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey. And Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana. Woolsey is a founder and Payne is a member of the Out of Iraq caucus. Wilson is co-chairman and Pence is a member of the Victory in Iraq caucus. All four have been to Iraq.

    Beginning with you, Congresswoman Woolsey, on the military and security side first, how do you read General Petraeus' progress report?

    REP. LYNN WOOLSEY (D), California: Well, General Petraeus is definitely a credible general, and he did a really good job of being the mouthpiece for the White House today, and speaking for keeping things going as they have been going.

    That isn't what the American people want. They want us to bring our troops home. They expect the Congress to step up to what is our very own power, which is the power of the purse. And we can do that. And we can use the power of the purse to fence in funding so that we can fully fund bringing our troops and our military contractors out of Iraq and hopefully in short order, no later than April of this year.


    Congressman Wilson, what did you think of what General Petraeus said on the security and military report itself?

    REP. JOE WILSON (R), South Carolina: Well, I was very pleased. And General Petraeus is a professional. I served 31 years in the Army myself, and I've got four sons serving in the military. I would want them to serve under General David Petraeus.

    He is a person who understands that we have got to stop safe havens for al-Qaida for terrorists. As a lesson that we learned six years ago, when they operate out of safe havens in Afghanistan and attacked New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, we've got to stop and not repeat 9/11.


    Congressman Payne, was General Petraeus credible to you?

    REP. DONALD PAYNE (D), New Jersey: Oh, there's no question about the fact that he has a distinguished record, and we all respect it. I think, though, that information that's coming out now, it seems like the president decided to go into Iraq and now we're finding out about all the difficulties that it is there to try to govern.

    Our military has done a credible job, taken many casualties, but what the military was supposed to do was to set the stage with the surge to allow the political process to take place. They've done a job temporarily on the surge; however, the politicians in Iraq are still fiddling while Iraq is burning.


    Congressman Pence, what's your reading of what General Petraeus said, specifically on the military side?

    REP. MIKE PENCE (R), Indiana: Well, specifically, General Petraeus told us that the military surge is working and that it's working to the extent that we'll be able to responsibly and significantly reduce forces beginning even later this month and taking us down to pre-surge levels by the middle of next year.

    But I have to tell you, I just came from the hearing. I just clarified this issue with the general. With all due respect to Lynn, this general is not a mouthpiece for this White House or any political voice in this city. The first thing out of his mouth today was, he said, "This is my testimony," and I got him to reiterate that he had not cleared his testimony to our committees with the White House before presenting it today.