"Iraq is playing a prominent role in meetings that Oregon's representatives and senators have in Oregon during this month's congressional recess. Though recesses traditionally have been a time for members of Congress to connect with constituents on a wide variety of issues, this month's recess has a uniquely strong focus on the future of the Iraq war.
Next month, Gen. David Petraeus will deliver a report on progress in Iraq. Democrats and some Republicans say the report could create a turning point in congressional support of the war, possibly causing enough Republicans to break with the Bush administration to support a withdrawal of troops.
"This is one of the most crucial periods in this whole debate," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.As he normally does during recesses, Wyden is holding three town hall meetings this week. But unlike his usual practice of addressing all current issues, Wyden is focusing the meetings on Iraq.
"It seemed very important to give Oregonians a chance to weigh in going into the debate," Wyden said. "I know a lot of folks want to talk about immigration and health care and the like, but this is going to be an opportunity to make sure Oregonians' voices are heard."
Sen. Gordon Smith said Iraq was among the top issues in his conversations with people at county fairs last week. "There's a heightened expectation," said Smith, who voted to authorize the war in 2002, but in December publicly criticized Bush's Iraq policy. Since then, Smith has advocated redeploying troops. "Wisely or not, General Petraeus and the president have created an expectation that there will be an evaluation and a way forward that shows us a way home sooner than later."