By Jared Allen, Mike Soraghan and Alexander Bolton - 11/25/09 05:40 PM EST
President Barack Obama will meet with House and Senate leaders from
both parties next week before he announces his Afghanistan policy.
Several Congressional leadership aides have confirmed that Democratic and Republican leaders from both the House and Senate, as well as key committee chairman and ranking members, are scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House at 4:45 p.m. on Tuesday.
Lawmakers from a variety of committees, including each chamber's armed services and foreign relations panels, have also been invited.
Aides to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Armed Services Committee Ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Foreign Relations Ranking member Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) have confirmed the lawmakers's attendance.
On Tuesday night, Obama is expected to make a primetime address to announce a significant troop buildup for the war in Afghanistan. The speech will take place at the West Point military academy, according to reports.
Many congressional Democrats could have trouble supporting additional troops.
“I don't think there's much support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in Congress,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters two months ago.
But Obama could receive significant support from Republicans who have pressed him to send more troops to Afghanistan.
White House aides have already indicated to a number of media outlets that Obama will announce a troop buildup of as many as 30,000 U.S. soldiers. There are currently 68,000 troops in Afghanistan.
General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has reportedly requested 40,000 additional troops.
McCain, Obama’s 2008 presidential rival, has urged Obama to make a decision quickly.
“I think you should give great weight to the recommendations of your military commanders. That's why they are in the position they're in. And I think that during this delay, unfortunately, we have made our allies question our steadfastness and our troops question whether we're doing it quickly enough,” McCain told Fox News Wednesday night.
At least one Congressional leader may already have gotten a preview of what the president will call for.
On Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi met with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and senior White House advisors.
Pelosi aides refused to confirm that Afghanistan was discussed and they wouldn’t comment on the meeting’s topics.
But shortly before his meeting with Pelosi, Obama made the most declarative statement about the eight-year-old war that he has in months, and hinted at his decision to send a significant number of additional troops, when he said: “My intention is to finish the job.”