WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today after President Bush spoke at the Pentagon:
“Democrats are absolutely committed to our servicemen and women in harm’s way and providing them with the resources they need. In fact, Congress provided unprecedented funding of $459 billion for our troops in the Defense Department appropriations bill signed into law earlier this month – an increase of $39 billion over last year.
“Furthermore, the House passed a $50 billion emergency supplemental appropriations bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan just two weeks ago – legislation that funds our troops, demands accountability and insists on a new direction in Iraq. However, the President and his allies in the Senate are blocking that bill, and essentially preventing our troops from getting the funding they need.
“Instead of insisting on another blank check from Congress and the American people for Iraq, the President and his allies should stop obstructing this legislation. While the President may find it galling that this Congress refuses to rubber-stamp his requests, the reality is that we are responding to the will of the American people, who are insisting that we change direction in Iraq.
“Thus, while our bill provides funding for the war effort, it also would require the President to begin to redeploy our troops within 30 days of its enactment with a goal of completion by December 15, 2008. In addition, this reasonable and responsible legislation would require a transition in mission for American forces from combat to counter-terrorism, force protection and training; it would require our troops to be fully trained and fully equipped; and it would require all government employees to follow the Army Field Manual rules prohibiting torture.
“The President clearly wants a free hand to continue pursuing his policy – even though the violence in Iraq continues and the political reconciliation is virtually non-existent. The American people and bipartisan majorities in Congress believe it is long past time to change direction in Iraq. That is precisely what this funding bill seeks to do, while providing our troops with the resources they need.”