House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) led a congressional delegation to Iraq on Tuesday as the two top U.S. officials in that country completed a second exhausting day of testimony on Capitol Hill.
The Republican House leader makes his second visit to Iraq as Congress resumes its debate over the U.S. troop presence on the ground following the much-anticipated progress report by Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
The next few weeks will be critical for the White House in its effort to maintain the current troop levels through the first half of 2008. President Bush needs the support of Boehner and the bulk of his Republican colleagues in the House to prevent Democrats from accelerating the redeployment of U.S. soldiers from that war-torn country.
Boehner arrived in Baghdad Wednesday after an overnight flight on his first visit to Iraq since his initial trip last year over the Fourth of July.
Before embarking, the Republican leader clearly intended to use the trip as a venue to help him frame an upcoming debate over the war.
“As General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker said, there is an incredible amount of work ahead in Iraq," Boehner said in a statement before leaving Washington. "This trip will give us the opportunity to thank our troops for the work they’ve done and will continue to do in the critical months ahead."