In the first really bold move of the new Congress, Jack Murtha told Arianna Huffington in an interview published today that he plans to block Bush's plan to escalate the war in Iraq by refusing to fund a so-called "surge" of additional troops.
From Arianna's interview:
When we asked about the likelihood of the president sending additional troops to Iraq, Murtha was adamant. "The only way you can have a troop surge," he told us, "is to extend the tours of people whose tours have already been extended, or to send back people who have just gotten back home." He explained at length how our military forces are already stretched to the breaking point, with our strategic reserve so depleted we are unprepared to face any additional threats to the country. So does that mean there will be no surge? Murtha offered us a "with Bush anything is possible" look, then said: "Money is the only way we can stop it for sure."
He says he wants to "fence the funding," denying the president the resources to escalate the war, instead using the money to take care of the soldiers as we bring them home from Iraq "as soon as we can."
As chairman of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha has power over the war purse. He's right: the only way to prevent a surge is to refuse to fund it. And the only surefire way to end the war starts with blocking the $100 billion supplemental bill President Bush plans to hand the Congress soon. Many Democrats have been reluctant to pursue such an approach. Maybe Murtha's latest statement--like his dramatic call for redeployment in November 2005--will wake up his party.