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Hoyer Statement on Iraq Briefing
Funds Troops, Holds Iraqis Accountable
WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made remarks following a bipartisan briefing to Members of Congress by Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Admiral Edmund Giambastiani and General David Petraeus. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"We deeply appreciate the briefing provided by Deputy Secretaries England and Negroponte, Admiral Giambastiani and General Petraeus.
"This briefing reinforced our belief that there is no military solution in Iraq - only a political solution. And that the legislation the House will vote on tonight will better bring about that solution - while the President's stay-the-course policies will not.
"Our belief that we must hold the Iraqis accountable for achieving real progress, and establish a timetable for a responsible redeployment of American forces, was also reinforced.
"Let me be clear: the bill that the House will vote on today fully funds our troops in harm's way. In fact, it provides even more funding for the war in Afghanistan than the President requested.
"It includes readiness standards that are existing Defense Department policy and the benchmarks we included are the President's own.
"Thus, we urge the President to sign this bill.
"Make no mistake: if the President vetoes this legislation, he will not only be vetoing funding for our troops but ignoring the will of the American people.
"The Administration and Congressional Republicans now disingenuously claim that the fight in Iraq is primarily against Al Qaeda. That is not the case according to the testimony I just heard. Our troops are in the middle of a civil war.
"President Bush wants this Congress to be a rubber-stamp - even when his policies are failing. Those days are over.
"Secretary of Defense Gates stated last week that the "clock is ticking" and that the debate in Congress has had a positive effect on the Iraqis because they understand that our commitment there is not unending.
"The American people want and deserve a Congress that holds the Iraqis accountable for making progress, and holds the Administration accountable for implementing a policy designed to succeed.
"That is what Democrats will do today."