Brownback opposes surge, angering pro-war conservatives

Who would’ve thought that the Kansas politician most vocally opposed to a troop surge in Iraq would be … Sen. Sam Brownback?Yet Brownback this morning is just that – a Republican criticizing President Bush’s newest plans for that war-torn country.!Here is the official statement from Brownback – who, not incidentally, is in Iraq this week:”I do not believe that sending more troops to Iraq is the answer,” said Brownback. “Iraq requires a political rather than a military solution. In the last two days, I have met with Prime Minister Maliki, with two deputy presidents and the president of the Kurdish region. I came away from these meetings convinced that the United States should not increase its involvement until Sunnis and Shi’a are more willing to cooperate with each other instead of shooting at each other.”This, of course, is getting attention.Bloomberg: Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who voted in support of the president 92 percent of the time last year, said that after meeting with Maliki and other Iraqi officials he doesn’t believe that more troops are the answer. “I came away from these meetings convinced that the United States should not increase its involvement until Sunnis and Shiites are more willing to cooperate with each other instead of shooting at each other,” Brownback said in a statement from Baghdad, where he is traveling. KC Star: Brownback, a conservative who is running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, is among a handful of GOP senators to publicly break with Bush on the president’s plans to escalate U.S. military involvement. Brownback has supported the war but in recent weeks has moved away from the Bush administration’s positions. He has called for dividing Iraq into three relatively autonomous zones – Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni – within a federated country. And he has said he generally supports the findings of the Iraq Study Group last month, which Brownback said provided the U.S. the opportunity to “reset the table.”Brownback’s position is angering pro-war conservatives.At National Review Online, Kate O’Beirne writes: _Today’s Hotline quotes from a Sam Brownback (who is in Iraq) press release: “While we cannot make a precipitious withdrawal, we can transfer more security responsibility to the Iraqis and reduce the threat to American troops.” Isn’t that the failed status quo?_And she throws down the ultimate conservative insult in criticizing Brownback: The Kennedy comparison. (No, not John.)_Republicans opposed to the surge, Sam Brownback? Chuck Hagel?, Olympia Snowe?, should have the courage and conviction to throw in with Ted Kennedy and vote to refuse funding without express congressional approval. Backing a non-binding resolution intended to undermine the President and that risks the morale of troops being sent on what they consider to be a futile mission is striking a pose without having the guts to actually do anything about their opposition to the new strategy._Enough of that. What do other Kansans think?Sen. Pat Roberts is offering “guarded support” to Bush, says AP: _Roberts said his support for Bush’s plan is conditioned upon Iraqi forces stepping up efforts to end the sectarian violence and achieve stability.__”At this point, I believe it is the only realistic choice given the regional instability and danger we face,” Roberts said. “But this support is not without limits if, as this mobilization takes effect, we do not see measurable progress.”__Roberts stressed that military action to quell the violence in Baghdad and Iraq’s western provinces “must be primarily conducted by the Iraqi government and Iraqi forces.”_Another AP report took the temperature of the rest of the delegation:_Republican Congressman Jerry Moran is also skeptical.__Moran says it doesn’t make sense to send more troops if the Iraqi people aren’t willing to set aside sectarian differences and commit to rebuilding their country.__Democrat Dennis Moore isn’t taking a formal position on the plan, but he says any decision will be carefully scrutinized by the Democratic-controlled Congress.__Republican Todd Tiahrt says he is pleased that Bush’s plan includes moving Iraqi security forces to the front, with U.S. troops serving a support role.__Democrat Nancy Boyda also declines to take a definitive position; she says she has –quote — “deep concerns” about the plan._Other headlines today:Sen. Pat Roberts (R)!( Roberts Brings USDA Official To Kansas To See Biosecurity Research Expertise: U.S. Senator Pat Roberts announced that tomorrow his office is hosting an official from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on a tour of the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) in Manhattan to showcase Kansas’ leadership and expertise in the area of biosecurity research. The visit is part of an ongoing effort by Senator Roberts to educate USDA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials on the benefits of housing the new proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Kansas. Currently both the Leavenworth area and Kansas State University are in contention for the facility. The NBAF would replace the aging Plum Island facility, the federal government’s most secure location for animal disease research. Such a center would complement and expand the work of the BRI ,housed in Pat Roberts Hall, a brand new, state-of-the art bio-research facility at Kansas State.Minimum wage(LJW) Minimum wage vote pleases Lawrence workers: The Democratic-controlled House voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 in three phases during the next 26 months. The vote was 315-116, with more than 80 Republicans joining Democrats to pass it. The measure now goes to the Senate, which is expected to move quickly – perhaps in the next few weeks. The legislation calls for a 70-cent increase 60 days after the bill becomes law. The other 70-cent increases would take place one and two years later. The federal minimum wage was last increased in 1997 from $4.75 to $5.15. U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., said the increase is long overdue. She dismissed concerns that raising the minimum wage could cost jobs. U.S. Reps. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Dennis Moore, D-Kan., joined Boyda in supporting the legislation. U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., was the only state representative to oppose the legislation.