Hoyer: House wants more from Karzai on reducing corruption

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has not made as much progress as U.S. leaders want to see in reducing substantial corruption in his country, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday.

Hoyer (D-Md.) offered a less than full-throated endorsement of Karzai as the Obama administration welcomed the Afghan leader to Washington for a series of meetings this week.

“There is substantial corruption in Afghanistan. Everyone agrees on that,” Hoyer said at his weekly press briefing. “Whether Mr. Karzai is up to confronting that or not, the fact is that substantial corruption exists.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other lawmakers traveled to Afghanistan during the weekend, and the House will soon seek to move a $33 billion appropriations bill to fund the war effort there.

“President Karzai and others in Afghanistan have a responsibility, and they have a need to both eliminate corruption which undermines the stability of their country, undermines their credibility with the Afghan people,” Hoyer said, “and the evidence to date has not been as hopeful as we would like.”

Nonetheless, he said the U.S. recognized Karzai was the elected leader of Afghanistan and would continue working with him.

Hoyer said it was an “objective” of Congress to pass the war funding bill before the Memorial Day recess, although he said House leaders preferred the Senate approve it first. “It saves some time if the Senate does it first, “ he said.