Washington (CNN) - There is growing support in Congress for cutting off some U.S. aid to Pakistan because leaders there turn a blind eye to terrorists who go after U.S. targets, the powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.
"I believe there is strong feeling inside the Democratic group of senators, and probably inside Republican senators as well, that the continued harboring of the Haqqani network and the Quetta Shura by the Pakistanis, where those people are crossing the border freely and killing our troops and Afghan troops, represents a real problem in terms of continuing financial support for Pakistan," Sen. Carl Levin told reporters in a Capitol hallway.
Both the Haqqani network and the Quetta Shura have ties to the Pakistani Taliban.
The Michigan Democrat declined to go into specifics about what U.S. funding he is considering withholding from Pakistan, but there is a $2.3 billion pending request from the Defense Department for Pakistan's counterinsurgency efforts.
After Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid into Pakistan earlier this month, Levin was an early critic of Pakistanis, saying he did not believe it was credible that they did not know the terrorist was living under their noses.
Until now the Senate Armed Services chairman has been careful not to call for cutting off financial aid to Pakistan, noting that the government there is, in fact, helping the United States and is a critical ally in some areas.
Levin made clear he is not considering a complete cessation of U.S. financial assistance to Pakistan but, he said, he and others are increasingly frustrated with the government in Islamabad for not rooting out terror groups like the Haqqani network, which officials believe runs training camps in North Waziristan, in the mountainous region of northern Pakistan.
"There is a real problem with continuing financial support with Pakistan when they continue to support the Haqqani network," Levin said. "These are people killing us, and it's open. It's not like bin Laden when they deny they knew bin Laden was there for five years. That was pretty hard to accept but that's what they say. They don't say they don't know where the Haqqanis are. They do know where the Haqqanis are - they're in North Waziristan."
Asked about Levin's comments, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stuck by his earlier position that it is too soon to discuss choking financial assistance to Pakistan.
"This is the time that we have to withhold judgment," he said, adding that there "will be hearings; there will be discussions in the White House. There will be diplomatic activities take place."