Hoyer: Afghan war debate separate from passage of war supplemental

Congress or the White House could in the future ask for changes to funding for troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it is critical to authorize them now, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday. 

At his weekly press briefing, Hoyer was asked why he put the $59 billion supplemental bill, which includes $33 billion in war funding, up for a vote this week amid the release of secret war documents by WikiLeaks, which critics have used to raise questions about the winnability of the war in Afghanistan. 

“The supplemental deals with funding those troops we have in the field now. Those troops are there now ... they have a mission. I think the president of the United States made a mission that is a doable mission,” he told reporters. ”Now, we may want to reconsider that in a new Congress. The administration may want to reconsider that and [have a] debate about it. But the fact is, those troops are there now, and the money, as we have been told by the Pentagon, will be depleted as of the seventh of August.”

With the House breaking for recess at the end of the week, House Democratic leaders have faced pressure to pass the measure by Friday. Hoyer, who controls the House schedule, said it will come up for a vote this week. 

But some in Hoyer’s caucus have voiced skepticism about the progress allied forcing are making against Islamic extremists in Afghanistan. The WikiLeaks documents, which say that some Pakistani intelligence operatives have aided such groups despite the fact their government receives U.S. anti-terror aid, has compounded that pressure. 

On top of that, the Senate’s decision last week to strip more than $20 billion in domestic spending also frustrated some House Democrats. 

The Maryland Democrat conceded that leaders could change the nation’s war policy in Afghanistan, but stressed that the debate must occur after this week. 

“Whatever we decide on policy in the long-term does not affect our obligation today to make sure the troops, as long as they are there, have the resources they need,” he said.