Congressmen host meeting in Edwards
EDWARDS – With 21,500 more troops headed to Iraq and $93 million more going to the war effort, there was a lot for U.S. Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar to talk about with Eagle County residents Thursday evening.The congressmen held a town-hall-style meeting at the Singletree Community Center, and the conversation was dominated by the war in Iraq.Udall said he voted against the original resolution authorizing military action in Iraq, and he supported the recent nonbinding resolution condemning President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. Udall said that was the first step to making progress in Iraq and getting U.S. troops out of a civil war.”We want to get out of there the right way,” Udall said. “It needs to be stable.”One audience member said he’d like to see some real teeth in their opposition to the war, such as blocking the $93 million needed for the troop surge. When asked if he would try to block that money, Udall said he couldn’t say yes or no now without knowing what all is included in the supplement.”To withdraw funding from the troops is a difficult thing to do,” Udall said.Two audience members said they didn’t like how many members of Congress were defensive on that issue and equated blocking funding for the war to not supporting the troops.Udall also said he’d rather send more troops to Afghanistan instead, which he said is “a war we can win.”One audience member brought up escalating tensions with Iran and expressed concerns about possible military action. Udall said attacking Iran doesn’t make sense militarily.”There are other ways to stabilize the region,” Udall said.The congressmen also talked about illegal immigration and how many industries in this area are dependent on international employees. When asked how the problem could be fixed, Salazar said a comprehensive reform was needed to keep the borders safe and address the labor needs in the country.Salazar said he wants stronger border security, a tamper-proof ID system and a way of dealing with immigrants that are already here. He also wants to see more cooperation between state and federal agencies and a more standardized federal policy on how illegal immigrants should be handled.A few veterans in the audience asked how the congressmen were dealing with veterans issues. Salazar said he’s fighting hard for better funding for veterans benefits, which he said were cut by the Bush administration.”It’s the saddest thing to see them coming home without arms and legs,” Salazar said. “But after the war, they don’t talk about it anymore.”Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or email@example.com.