WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is unsure whether the war in Afghanistan is going to be a success and says the United States can't afford to keep spending billions of dollars on the effort.
In an interview on Thursday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Reid whether he was confident that the war was going to "work, in the end." Reid expressed serious doubts.
"I'm not confident that it's going to work," he replied. "I'm happy to see that -- I have talked to General Petraeus in the room next door here a couple of weeks ago, and he thinks things are going well. I have great respect for him. I hope it's going well."
The United States is spending more than $100 billion a year in Afghanistan, amounting to about $2 billion a week.
"[T]he American people have, and rightfully so, a very short attention span. We cannot continue to keep dumping this money," said Reid, adding, "Think of what that would do for renewable energy for this country."
The military plans to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July, with an end to combat operations in 2014. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates and top military commanders have said they expect some troops to remain there beyond that date.
The Defense Department received $513 billion in funding in the FY 2011 continuing resolution passed by Congress this week, approximately $5 billion above last year's level. Another $158 billion is provided for overseas contingency operations (emergency funding). The war in Afghanistan will receive $108 billion of that funding, while the war in Iraq will receive $50 billion.
"The military, Wolf, spends $700 billion a year on what they do, $550 billion just to keep the door open at the Pentagon, plus $150 billion in war fighting," said Reid. "That's a lot of money for the American people to support."
In contrast, in May 2010, when then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced an amendment calling for a flexible timeline for withdrawing from the war in Afghanistan, Reid issued a statement saying, "In light of the President’s strategy and the recent progress, now is not the time to change course."