WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today as Democrats prepared to introduce the “U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act,” which is expected to be marked up in the Appropriations Committee next week:
“The passions and strongly held views within our Democratic Caucus regarding the most vital issue facing our nation – our continued military action in Iraq – mirror those held by Americans in literally every corner of our country. And, we will continue to reach out to every Member of our diverse Caucus – as well as to Republicans – to enlist their support for this bill, the ‘U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health and Iraq Accountability Act.’
“This legislation is another step toward forging a new direction in Iraq and rejecting the President’s failed stay-the-course strategy. This bill sets real benchmarks for progress, and provides a strategy for responsibly redeploying American troops.
“Under this bill, Democrats will provide our troops with the training, equipment and resources they need; require the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own country; strengthen our efforts in the war on terror; and hold this Administration accountable for its prosecution of this war.
“I believe this responsible approach is supported by the vast majority of Americans. For example, we will require that deployed units to be ‘fully mission capable,’ as currently required by existing Department of Defense guidelines. However, this legislation will allow the President to waive this provision, if he certifies to Congress that such a waiver is in the national interest.
“This bill also would require the Iraqi government to meet the key security, political and economic benchmarks that President Bush established in his January 10 address to the nation. The American people have made clear that they want to see Iraqis take responsibility for their country, and our military leaders – including General Petraeus – have made clear there is only a political solution to this war.
“Finally, Democrats will begin to refocus on fighting the global war on terror, and the resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida. I hope Republicans will join Democrats in supporting this legislation, holding the Administration accountable, and moving us in the new direction that Americans voted for in November.”