WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement in support of legislation providing funding for troops in Iraq, while requiring the President to begin redeploying forces:
“All of us here want to succeed in Iraq. All of us here want to make our nation and the American people safer.
“But after more than four and one-half years of pursuing the President’s failing stay-the-course strategy, we are not achieving either objective.
“Do not take my word for it. Listen to retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, a former commander of coalition forces in Iraq, who recently stated that ‘there is no question America is living a nightmare with no end in sight.’
“General Sanchez went on to say: ‘From a catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan, to the Administration’s latest surge strategy, this Administration has failed to employ and synchronize its political, economic, and military power.’
“This is what our nation has to show for its efforts: More than 3,800 brave servicemen and women have been killed in action. More than 28,000 American soldiers have been injured.
“And, the American taxpayer has spent $450 billion on this war, with the President now demanding another $200 billion – with many willing to oblige with another blank check.
“Yet, despite our service members’ valiant efforts and enormous sacrifice, we are not safer. Indeed, we are arguably less safe because as Chairman Skelton has repeatedly warned, this grinding war is taxing our military and causing serious concern about our ability to respond to crises elsewhere in the world.
“I realize that the President and other supporters of the current Iraq strategy will point to the apparent decrease in attacks in Iraq as proof that the President’s policy is working.
“Let me simply say: If you put 30,000 members of the greatest fighting force in the world – the United States military – in a city such as Baghdad or a province such as Anbar, they are without question going to make that area temporarily more secure.
“But the truth is, there is no demonstrable evidence that security can be maintained without a continued, heavy American presence. And the truth is, Iraqi political reconciliation – a prerequisite to real security and Iraq’s success – is virtually non-existent.
“Again, do not take my word for it. Listen to Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, who told the Washington Post in October: ‘I don’t think there is something called reconciliation. This is a struggle about power.’
“Given the facts, given the evidence, given our experiences over the last four and one-half years, it is long past time for a new direction in Iraq. That is precisely what this legislation represents.
“This legislation will provide our troops in harm’s way with the resources they need, while requiring the President to begin to redeploy our forces there.
“When Democrats regained the House Majority, we promised: No more blank checks. That is a promise we are keeping.
“Thus, this bill provides $50 billion to meet the immediate needs of our troops, and defers consideration of the remainder of the President’s $200 billion request.
“At the same time, this bill requires that the redeployment of our troops shall begin within 30 days of its enactment, with a goal of complete redeployment by December 15, 2008.
“It also requires a transition in mission in Iraq from primarily combat to providing protection for American diplomats and citizens, counter-terrorism, and limited support for Iraqi forces.
“It prohibits deployment of U.S. forces which are not fully trained and fully equipped.
“And, it extends the current prohibitions against torture in the Army Field Manual to all U.S. government agencies and personnel.
“Let’s support our troops – and ensure the readiness of our military.
“Let’s demand that Iraqis step up and assume responsibility for their own country.
“Let’s ensure that this Administration is accountable to Congress and the American people.
“And, let’s refocus our efforts on rooting out and eliminating terrorists.
“I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle: Vote for this responsible, reasonable legislation to change direction in Iraq.”