Sanders to vote no on president’s Iraq funding request

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(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders says he won’t support President Bush’s request to provide $87 billion for the war in Iraq, unless the president outlines the administration’s strategy to end American involvement in the conflict.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) In the next few weeks, Congress will be reviewing the administration’s proposal to allocate $87 billion for the war in Iraq. Sanders thinks a growing number of members of Congress are concerned about the size of this request. The Congressman says it’s likely that he’ll vote against the proposal, unless the president outlines a specific long term course of action for the country to take in Iraq:

(Sanders) “The idea of just putting $87 billion into Iraq at a time when this country has a huge deficit and so many of our own needs are underfunded, and at the same time when the president hasn’t given us an exit strategy. We want to know, how many years are we going to be in there – three years, five years, ten years? Is it going to costs us hundreds of billions of dollars? Or are we going to start talking to the rest of the world and the United Nations and try to get some international effort into Iraq and try and figure out a way that we can transfer power to the Iraqi people.”

(Kinzel) Sander say he’s concerned that appropriating $87 billion for the war in Iraq will make it even harder to allocate money for critical programs in this country:

(Sanders) “Congress is in a position where it has got to ask some very, very hard question. You know, we have a situation where schools are underfunded, where people have no health insurance, where family farms are going out of business. There’s a housing crisis, veterans can’t even get into the VA health care system. And the president now wants $87 billion for Iraq and in fact what we’re hearing is, that may not be the end of it.”

(Kinzel) Sanders says that while he thinks it’s important to support U.S. troops in Iraq, allocating $87 billion to continue the war effort may not be in the best interest of those troops.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Monpelier.

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