Obama, Hill leaders to meet on Iraq

Obama, Hill leaders to meet on Iraq
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President Obama will meet with congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the turmoil in Iraq.


Obama will meet with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

A senior Democratic aide said the president extended the invitation Tuesday although there was some discussion Monday about a meeting.

Reid on Tuesday said Obama should not send U.S. soldiers back to the war-torn region after nearly a decade of combat.

“We shouldn’t be sending our men and women back to Iraq," Reid said.

"Those who attack President Obama for bring our troops wrong are flat wrong,” Reid told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “After a decade of war we’ve all had enough. We do not support putting our men and women in harm’s way in Iraq. Families have sacrificed enough.”

McConnell declined to offer a plan of action for Iraq, instead saying he wants to hear what Obama has to say. 

“I’m anxious to hear what he has to say, he’s the president of the United States, about what we do confronted with this situation now,” McConnell said.

He blamed Obama for pulling all combat troops out of Iraq and warned the president not to do the same in Afghanistan.

Boehner, meanwhile, is headed to the meeting with the expectation that Obama will “offer a coherent strategy to ensure that Iraq does not descend further into lawless barbarism.”

“We spent years, vast sums of money, and — most importantly — thousands of American lives to improve Iraq’s security and make America safer. Squandering that legacy would be a tragic mistake,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

Reid seemed open to some military intervention, such as drone strikes, telling reporters that Obama does not need additional authority from Congress for limited military action.

“In my opinion, I don’t think they need any more authority than they already have to do whatever they need to do,” he said.

Reid said he is satisfied with the outreach from the White House to brief him on the rapidly changing situation in Iraq. 

In a letter to lawmakers on Monday, Obama said the U.S. would be deploying approximately 275 military personnel to provide support and help secure the US embassy in Baghdad amid violence by militants aiming to control the north in Iraq. 

"This force is deploying for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and is equipped for combat," Obama said in the letter. "This force will reman in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that it is no longer needed."

This story was last updated at 4:48 p.m.