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Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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April 16, 2008 9:48 AM

Reichert, others, want Iraq to pay for rebuilding -- UPDATED

Posted by David Postman

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, and Connecticut Republican Rep. Christopher Shays want Iraqis to pay for reconstruction of their war-damaged country. The two House moderates introduced a resolution yesterday that says

it is the sense of the House of Representatives that funding for future Iraq reconstruction initiatives and training of Iraqi security forces should come from Iraqi revenues, and if the government of Iraq cannot properly allocate and spend its revenues, any funding from the United States to Iraq for reconstruction and security training should be provided as a loan to Iraq.

The resolution says that Iraq earned $41 billion from oil sales last year and over $10 billion in the first two months of this year. Shays said in a statement:

It is unacceptable that Iraqis are accumulating billions of dollars in accounts from oil revenues and the United States spends billions of dollars on Iraq’s defense and economic development.

Reichert has been a strong supporter of the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy. But the resolution says that after the United States has spent more than $500 billion “to free the citizens of Iraq,” it’s time for the Iraqi government to lead the nation to “stability, peace and prosperity by paying for the reconstruction of their infrastructure.”

This appears to be a trend among Republicans in the House and Senate, with some Democrats joining the effort, too.

UPDATE: A spokesman for Reichert's Democratic challenger, Darcy Burner, says the "sense of Congress" resolution is an empty gesture. Sandeep Kaushik says by e-mail:

It is true that the costs of this war, which Congressman Reichert has enthusiastically supported at every step, to the American taxpayer are enormous -- more than $10 billion every single month. Every family of four in the district is already on the hook for $16,500, and that number grows daily. Meanwhile, gas prices are rising, our economy is sinking, and our military is being ground down. If we want to help the American taxpayer, the real path forward is to bring this war to a responsible close, which is why we have offered a detailed plan to do that. ... And it focuses on actually passing key pieces of existing legislation, not just mouthing platitudes or offering empty resolutions, which is why it has been endorsed by leading generals and national security experts, and by more than 50 House and Senate candidates around the country.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Reichert Chief of Staff Mike Shields says that more than half -- 54 percent to be precise -- of Burner's plan has been supported by Reichert. He said by e-mail:

Additionally, her plan is based upon and mentions throughout the Iraq Study Group. You may remember, Dave was an early proponent of the Iraq Study Group before it had even made its recommendations - and Darcy Burner attacked him at the time on his Iraq position. Further, Dave cosponsored legislation to make the ISG recommendations law in the House. How is this "empty platitudes?" Her plan calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops. Recently the Democrat Co-Chairman of the Iraq Study Group, Lee Hamilton, flat out said he thought that was a bad idea. Her plan then says we should pump more U.S. taxpayer dollars into the black hole that our leaving will create. This announcement by Reichert amounts to the opposite of that: keep troops there to provide security, and force Iraq to stand up its economy and pay its own way. That's a big difference in the two approaches.

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