House Republicans Criticize Obama Timeline

(AP)
House Republicans aren't backing the President Barack Obama's new Afghanistan policy. At least, not yet. The issue is not the additional 30,000 troops, which they support. It's the timeline for withdrawal.

Mr. Obama announced last night that he would begin removing troops from Afghanistan in July of 2011. That's a move that Republicans say will make the surge less effective.

"It never makes sense to tell the enemy when your commitment to fight will run out," said House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN), at left, after members met this morning to discuss the president's new strategy.

Republicans also questioned the president's true commitment to winning the war and criticized his speech last night for not focusing enough on commitment to success.

"Republicans want to know, is the president serious about fulfilling this mission?" said Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.

Republicans would not say, however, that they would vote against any bill to fund the new strategy. House Minority leader John Boehner said he wants answers to numerous questions, like how the exit date would work and what can be accomplished over the next year and a half, before Republicans can support the president's plan.

The other sticking point for the House GOP? Democratic proposals to pay for the increase in troops with a war tax. "House Republicans are adamantly opposed, especially during this difficult economy, to passing a tax increase on the backs of our soldiers," Pence said.

Another option for paying for the Afghanistan surge, which Republicans actively support at this time, is using unspent stimulus funds to offset the cost.

Republicans say they will listen carefully to the Capitol Hill testimony of Defense Secretary Robert Gates this week and General Stanley McChrystal next for the answers to their many questions about the new policy.


(CBS)
Jill Jackson is a CBS News Capitol Hill Producer. You can read more of her posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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    Jill Jackson is a CBS News senior political producer.

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