Interview of the Vice President

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- West Wing 10:35 A.M. EST Q It's an interesting time, so we really are eager to talk to you about especially a lot of the stuff that's happening on...

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- West Wing 10:35 A.M. EST

Q It's an interesting time, so we really are eager to talk to you about especially a lot of the stuff that's happening on Capitol Hill right now. But I'd love -- I mean, I'd love your overall assessment from -- of what's been happening on the Hill, like Pelosi's leadership and how Democrats have sort of handled their end of negotiating with you guys, whether it's Iraq , the economy, spending -- dealing with that right now. What is your assessment of how the Democratic Congress is handling --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't think they're doing all that well. That probably wouldn't surprise anybody. I just think -- I think if you look at the track record on what they've been able to move, on important items that are sort of basic need-to-do-every-year kinds of things, like the appropriations process, I think the record is pretty dismal. We've got one appropriations bill so far that we've got signed; we've still got 11 pending. And here we are at the end of the calendar year, well into the new fiscal year, and I think -- I look at that and see that as an indication in terms of their capacity to function as not a good indicator.

I think the refusal to move the war supplemental to support the troops until after the first of the year is a mistake. I say that in part as a former Secretary of Defense. It's a terrible way to run a railroad -- talk about Defense has got some money they can move around and so forth -- just because it's big doesn't mean that's a smart way to operate. It's not. And I'm, frankly, surprised at why, after all of the efforts they've made to try to hook up various provisions on Iraq to the spending bill, they've been unsuccessful.

In the final analysis, the troops shouldn't suffer for that, and we ought to be able to pass an emergency supplemental, as we've done in years past, to make certain that the troops have got what they need in the field, the department can run efficiently, that the investments that are required to sustain the effort that I think obviously is bearing fruit in Iraq needs to go forward.

I'm puzzled why they are so wedded to their political view that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid aren't going to move that legislation -- said, absolutely not, there won't be another vote on this matter in this Congress. I think that's a big mistake.

I'm also somewhat surprised -- I look at the House -- there are members of the House I worked closely with over the years when I was Secretary of Defense who would ordinarily have been staunch advocates for this kind of legislation, who no longer are staunch advocates -- and I'm referring to my friend, Jack Murtha -- I think of all of them as friends of mine -- but Jack and other senior leaders who now all march to the tune of Nancy Pelosi , to an extent I had not seen, frankly, with any previous Speaker. And I'm surprised by that. I think of John Dingell and the energy business. This is a hot item right now. But I don't see John Dingell driving that train. It looks to me like Nancy Pelosi is driving that train. And that is -- well, it's surprising when I think of the -- I'm trying to think how to say all of this in a gentlemanly fashion -- but the Congress I served in, that wouldn't have happened. We would not have had a Speaker who, from my perspective, is that far out of the sort of mainstream -- she is a San Francisco Democrat, certainly entitled to her views, but able to dictate policy as effectively as she apparently does to the rest of the caucus.

Q Well, did any of those guys lose their spine? Is that what you're saying?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I was being very diplomatic in the way I phrased it. (Laughter.) They're not carrying the big stick I would have expected with the Democrats in the majority.

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