Local Politicians Battle Over Iraq Dollars

By: Justin Ware
By: Justin Ware

Rep. Mark Green has been in the Middle East meeting with top U.S. and foreign officials and taking a tour of Iraq. With nearly the entire nation's hospitals and schools now open, he says progress is being made on the rebuilding, but with the daily acts of violence as a reminder, there is still a long way to go.

And there is mounting pressure from democrats back in the states on the process, as well. Democratic members of both the senate and congress say too much money is going to rebuilding efforts in Iraq.

Those opposed to the $87 billion appropriations bill say more money should come from loans to Iraq. Green says that would create accountability problems for the United States in the international community.

"It makes it very hard for the United States to get contributions from our allies for the overall cost when we aren't willing to put ourselves on the line in the form of grants ourselves," said Rep. Mark Green, (R) Wisconsin.

But some Wisconsin democrats say accountability for how the $87 billion will be spent is a major problem, and they add that the bush administration has been overpaying.

"We found some pretty scary stuff when we looked at this bill," said Sen. Russ Feingold, (D) Wisconsin, "$6,000 for a cell phone? I'm not the best shopper in the world, but I can do better than that."

"Whereas the wizards in the Defense Department wanted to contract these expensive multi-national corporations and pay Cadillac prices to get things moving again," said Rep. Dave Obey, (D) Wisconsin.

Green says he does not believe the claims of inflated prices are true and says a new measure passed this week will include an auditing process for rebuilding Iraq.

"There will be an audit process, there will be transparencies, said Green, "there will be no doubt about how that money's being spent."

Green will be in Iraq for two more days working with Chief Weapons Inspector David Kay and Jordanian King Abdullah to get a clearer picture on the situation in that country.

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