Rep. Barney Frank said he would oppose a troop increase in Afghanistan because people in his district face greater threats than al Qaeda.

Frank (D-Mass.), the House Financial Services Committee chairman, said that the federal government needs to spend its funds on domestic priorities rather than on foreign wars in light of the nation's record $1.4 trillion budget deficit. Frank said that domestic problems, such as crime and global warming, pose a greater "threat" to citizens in his district than al Qaeda does.


"There are cops in my districts who have been laid off. And there are people in my district who need more protection from criminals than they need from al Qaeda," Frank said during an appearance at Cornell University on Sunday. "That's just a fact of life."

Frank continued that "they need protection [inaudible] from urban areas where there have been foreclosures on the fire department. And they need more protection from bridges falling down when they drive over them. And from pollution in the water, et cetera."

In opposing additional troops be sent to Afghanistan, he also cited the human cost of war.

"I sat in a church where they buried a kid who was killed in a war I voted for. That's a very serious responsibility. A very tough one," he said.

The Obama administration since September has been developing a new strategy in Afghanistan. The administration began the strategic review following a report issued by commanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal that called for the military to deploy 40,000 additional troops to the war-torn nation.

The process has been delayed by several roadblocks, including reports of widespread fraud in the reelection of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Frank said that if he were the president, he would consider adding more troops in Afghanistan only if the government can pay for it by withdrawing soldiers from Iraq in six months, as opposed to the 18-month process initiated by the military earlier this year.

Regardless, Frank said the eight-year-long war has taken too high a toll on the country.

"We are doing an enormous harm to the quality of life in American society," he said.