McConnell, Pelosi Agree on Iraqi Govt. Failures

Two of Congress' top leaders agreed the Iraq government has failed in its duty.

February 12, 2009, 12:28 PM

Oct. 14, 2007 — -- Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., this morning admitted that "the central government in Iraq has been an embarrassment."

It's an assessment he said he shares with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

"I'd have to say that I agree with her," McConnell said in a "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" interview. "They've not been able to produce any of the kind of political compromises that we had hoped for."

In a separate interview, Pelosi blamed the Iraqi government for not making the necessary changes to bring the war to a close.

"The purpose of the surge was to create a secure environment in which the political change to end the sectarian violence could succeed," she said. "Why should our troops be risking their lives in a civil war that, even when we intervene and create the room for them to make change, they refuse to do it?"

But McConnell reiterated his belief that the surge is working.

"Violence is dramatically down," he said. "There's just simply overwhelming evidence to that effect. And most of us have not given up. We believe we can win. And my definition of winning is a stable country and an ally in the war on terror. I think we're making significant progress toward that end."

On Iran, Pelosi repeated her belief that the president must come before Congress if he wants to take military action.

"We don't believe that any authorities that the president has would give him the ability to go in without an act of Congress," she said, explaining why she plans not to bring the Kyl-Lieberman resolution to the House floor. "Whatever Iran's impact is on our troops in Iraq should be dealt with in Iraq."

When asked about the vote scheduled this week to override the president's veto on the Children's Health Insurance Program, Pelosi stood firm.

"We'll try very hard to override it," she said. "But one thing's for sure: We won't rest until those 10 million children have health care."

McConnell, however, was optimistic that a compromise was on the horizon.

"There's no chance the Republicans and Democrats are not going to reach a compromise on this in the very near future," he said. "There's no choice. We're not going to walk away and leave these young people from low-income families uninsured."

But Pelosi disagreed.

"The president has never talked about a compromise," she said. "A compromise to the president means, in all due respect to him -- and I have great, shall we say, respect for the president. Compromise to him means, 'Do it my way.'"

Pelosi added that she will not consider lowering the number of children covered under SCHIP to less than 10 million.

"Think of it this way: Ten million children -- for 40 days in Iraq ... we can ensure 10 million children for one year in America. At the same time that the president is asking for $200 billion more in a supplemental for Iraq, he is saying we can't afford the money to take care of America's children."

When asked about the House resolution last week on the Armenian genocide of 1915, Pelosi said there is no doubt that the resolution will be brought to a vote.

"The time is important, because many of the survivors are very old," she said.

But McConnell disagreed with the resolution, saying it was "particularly not a good idea when Turkey is cooperating with us in many ways, which ensures greater safety for our soldiers."

He did not, however, question the reality of the Armenian genocide.

"I have a lot of Armenian friends, by the way, and I've been to Armenia," he said. "There's no question that this mass killing of Armenians did occur almost 100 years ago."

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