Pelosi said she wished she had convinced the Senate to repass troop withdrawal legislation earlier this year, even after President Bush vetoed the measure. Such a move would have heightened pressure on wavering Republicans, she said.
"The irony of it is the president paid a really big price for vetoing that bill, and instead of sending it back to him again, people [in the Senate] said, well, he vetoed it, if we send it back it looks like we're not being constructive," Pelosi said. "The Republicans were the obstruction. They knew that if that bill went on the president's desk, it was deadly for them -- the Republicans in Congress."
On Iran, Pelosi said she does not believe that the Bush administration is preparing military action to stop the development of nuclear weapons.
"The downside of it so outweighs any upside," she said. "Now that doesn't mean that there aren't people who are advocating for it. I don't think the president is at that place."
She said she would continue to make clear her belief that the president does not have the authority to invade Iran based on resolutions authorizing force in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But she said she is not sure that House members would support a preemptive resolution stating that fact, given the nation's interest in using all the diplomatic and economic levers at its disposal to dissuade the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon.
"I don't think the people want a use-of-force taken off the table in that way, but that doesn't mean that they would support the use of force unless there's a real argument for it," she said.
Aside from the House's fresh attempts to shape the direction of the war, Pelosi said she is planning a full legislative agenda for the next year, in the window before the elections dominate all politics.
She said she is confident the House can pass a major energy bill, in addition to higher-education reforms, new protections for consumer-product safety and a permanent fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax, a parallel tax structure that is increasingly ensnaring middle-class taxpayers.
"Although the war is, you know, the 'total eclipse of the war,' it is still necessary for us to do the job we went there to do," Pelosi said.