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Capitol Hill Responds to Zarqawi's Death


Joining us from Washington, the House Majority Representative, Roy Blunt of Missouri. Congressman you met with President Bush yesterday, partly to talk about Iraq. You're just back from there, how did he seem?

Rep. ROY BLUNT (Republican, Missouri): Well I did meet with him yesterday Alex to talk about Iraq and a meeting with a number of people who just come back. The president seemed committed. I think the president was very engaged in the meeting, he was interested in the reports from the various members of the people we had met with, many of whom were meeting with members of the Congress for the first time because they're, for the first time part of a government in Iraq and we're all anticipating the difference that a permanent, broad-based government's going to make and that announcement today in the long run may have been just as important as the al-Zarqawi announcement, the announcement that the Defense Minister's in place, the Interior Minister's in place. So you've got the first permanent government elected by the people in the history of the country and it appears to have a broad enough base where it really does represent the interest of all Iraqis.

CHADWICK: Yeah, these are two hugely positive developments coming on one day. And during a time when politically speaking, you've been needing to hear some good news from Iraq haven't you?

Rep. ROY BLUNT: Well, I think to sustain the will of the American people, to do the job in the war on terror, to sustain the will of the Congress to understand that you cannot successfully fight the war on terror without now fully engaging in this battleground that the terrorists have decided to make a critical battleground to the war and al-Zarqawi being eliminated does make a big difference. Operationally it may be one of the biggest differences you could possibly make because he was clearly involved in the daily operations and planning of terrorist activities there but that doesn't mean those-those activities won't end but they certainly are impacted in a hopeful and helpful way by the elimination of al-Zarqawi.

CHADWICK: Well, forgive me for returning to politics in this country but this is a battleground as well and this is a, a big issue. Are you hearing from your members that boy I'm going to go home and talk about this.

Rep. ROY BLUNT: I'm sure they will. We just had the Deputy Whip meeting earlier today. And you know at the Deputy Whip meeting there was an eagerness to talk about both of these important developments and actually we're anticipating and have scheduled for some time now to have a debate next Tuesday and Wednesday on the floor of the House on a resolution involving Iraq and the war on terror. And clearly these elements that we didn't anticipate happening in quite this way are going to be important parts of that debate and about the commitment that the Congress once again will demonstrate next week to seeing through on this war on terror.

And having just come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, the people that we're helping there understand the help that we're giving and people who didn't want us to come into the country, don't want us to leave in the near future, because they know they can't accomplish their goals that they hope to accomplish as a democratic society, unless they have the under pinnings of American and Coalition help for the near term if not, but not the long term.

You know we all want to see a day when Iraq and Afghanistan both can stand totally on their own and, and we'll see that day if we stick - stay the course right now. The president's message at both the meetings I was at with him yesterday and any other time I've seen him is that we're going to do what needs to be done to fight in this battleground that clearly has been chosen now by the terrorists as a primary battleground.

CHADWICK: Republican Congressman Roy Blunt of Missouri, the House Majority Whip. Congressman, thank you for being with us on DAY TO DAY.

BLUNT: Alex, good to be with you. Thanks for what you do every day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.