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COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON - In advance of tonight's expected announcement by President Bush to send 20,000 more troops into Iraq, congressional Democrats are weighing in on the plan.
Freshman U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Rock Island, whose district includes Whiteside County, said he's strongly opposed to increasing troop numbers in Iraq.
"I think this is a last-ditch attempt by this president to try to save what I don't think can be saved," Hare said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "We just lost another soldier from Galesburg in my district."
"The only way, in my opinion, that we're ever going to get peace in that country is through diplomatic efforts," he said.
He joins Illinois' two Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, who last week criticized the proposal to increase troops. Hare also called for a timeline for withdrawal.
However, all three Illinois Democrats said they would not want to cut financial support to troops already there.
Hare also protested the $1 billion in economic aid to Iraq that President Bush is proposing to rebuild Iraq.
"One of the things I'm also a little bit miffed about is that the president wants $1 billion for infrastructure in Iraq and yet we still have vehicles that are not armor-fitted for the men and woman serving over there," Hare said. "I think he has this thing backwards."
The money should be used to make up the shortfall in funding for health care for U.S. veterans, said Hare, who learned Tuesday he was assigned to the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
He had sought the assignment to continue efforts by his longtime boss and predecessor, retired Rep. Lane Evans.