To: Editorial Writers, Reporters, Producers and Columnists
From: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Re: Iraq War Funding
War Funding: Setting the Record Straight
Democrats are absolutely committed to providing America’s military with the resources it needs to protect and strengthen our national security. In fact, earlier this month, Congress provided unprecedented funding of $459 billion for our troops in the annual Defense Department Appropriations Bill – an increase of $39 billion over last year.
On Nov. 14, the House also passed a $50 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, President Bush – who has demanded $196 billion for the wars, with no strings attached – is threatening to veto this legislation. And, the President’s allies in the Senate are blocking it from coming to the Senate for a vote – essentially preventing our troops from getting the funding they need.
The President’s request for another $196 billion would bring the total cost of the Iraq war to more than $600 billion. And, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that, under the President’s policies, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $2.4 trillion through the next decade.
The House Bill Funds Our Troops, Demands Accountability
and Insists on a New Direction
The bipartisan emergency supplemental appropriations bill for Iraq passed by the House is both reasonable and responsible – and it responds to the demands of the American people, who want a new direction in Iraq. In addition to providing $50 billion in funding for our troops in harm’s way, this legislation includes important provisions to protect our servicemen and women. Specifically, this bill would require:
1) the President to begin to redeploy our troops within 30 days of its enactment with a goal of completion by December 15, 2008;
2) a transition in the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq from primarily combat to engaging in counter-terrorism, protecting U.S. diplomats, and providing limited support to Iraqi security forces;
3) our troops to be fully trained and fully equipped before deploying; and
4) all government employees to follow Army Field Manual rules prohibiting torture.
The Iraq war already has gone on longer than U.S. participation in World War II, World War I, or the Korean War. More than 3,850 U.S. troops have been killed and more than 28,000 have been wounded. While our troops have done everything that has been asked of them, the President’s policies, unfortunately, are neither succeeding nor making us safer. In fact, the President’s Iraq policy is severely undermining our military readiness and ability to respond to crises in other parts of the world.
Former Top Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq
Supports Democrats’ Call for Change of Direction . . .
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who commanded coalition forces in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, has urged Congress to pass and the President to sign the supplemental appropriations bill passed by the House in November. Responding to the President’s national weekly radio address on Nov. 24, Gen. Sanchez stated: “The funding bill passed by the House of Representatives last week, with a bipartisan vote, makes the proper preparation of our deploying troops a priority and requires the type of shift in their mission that will allow their number to be reduced substantially.” He added, “The keys to securing the future of Iraq are aggressive regional diplomacy, political reconciliation, and economic hope. Yet, as our current commanders in Iraq have recently noted, the improvements in security produced by the courage and blood of our troops have not been matched by a willingness on the part of Iraqi leaders to make the hard choices necessary to bring peace to their country.”
. . . as Top American Generals Express Grave Concerns
About Iraqi Efforts at Political Reconciliation
Even as most Congressional Republicans demand a blank check from the American taxpayers for the Administration to pursue its failing Iraq policy, top American generals on the ground in Iraq have publicly stated their concerns about the lack of Iraqi political reconciliation. For example, the Washington Post reported that, “Senior military commanders [in Iraq] now portray the intransigence of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government as the key threat facing the U.S. effort in Iraq, rather than al-Qaeda terrorists, Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias.”
The Iraqi government has failed to take advantage of the reduced levels of violence achieved as a result of the additional American troops sent into Iraq. U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who commands the day-to-day U.S. military operations in Iraq, told the Washington Post that there is a window of opportunity for the Iraqi government to reach out to its former foes but “it’s unclear how long that window is going to be open.”
Meanwhile, the White House and Republicans in Congress
Demand a Blank Check and Engage in Scare Tactics
The Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress are adamantly opposed to the reasonable, responsible conditions linked to the funding for Iraq passed by the House. Despite the Administration’s failing Iraq policy, the President and his allies in Congress are demanding a blank check – a blank check the American people oppose. And now, the Administration is engaging in scare tactics, falsely asserting that the only way to prevent harmful effects on normal military operations and the layoff of thousands of civilian employees of the Defense Department is to enact the blank check supplemental funding bill for Iraq.
But as Rep. David Obey (D-WI), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, recently pointed out, the Defense Department would have full access to supplemental funding for Iraq if the President and his allies in Congress would stop obstructing it. In addition, the Defense Department has sufficient funding currently available to last through at least February of 2008.