WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) today spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 557, applauding the valiant and heroic service of our armed forces in Iraq. However, Rep. Hoyer opposed the partisan drafting of the resolution. Republicans once again excluded Democrats, and the 130 million Americans they represent, from providing any input on this important resolution. The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, I will support this resolution, as an expression of our nation’s gratitude and pride in our men and women in uniform who have performed with brilliance and valor in operation Iraqi freedom. As Abraham Lincoln remarked: ‘While all contribute of their substance, the soldier puts his life at stake and often yields it up in his country’s cause.’
“To date, 565 Americans have given the ultimate measure of devotion to our country in Iraq, including a young soldier from my congressional district – Jason C. Ford – who was killed by a roadside bomb in Tikrit on Saturday, just two weeks after he arrived there. We mourn the loss of Jason and all other fallen patriots, and extend our most profound sympathies to their loved ones. We also pray for the full recovery of the more than 3,200 servicemen and women who have been wounded there. And to the approximately 110,000 Americans still in Iraq, we offer this pledge: we will do everything within our power to ensure your success and safe return home.
“Mr. Speaker, this resolution should have simply expressed the support in this House for our Armed Forces in harm’s way. Regrettably, however, the Majority has handled this resolution in a manner intended to sow disunity. Our troops and the American people expect – and deserve – better.
“On a matter of highest national importance, the Majority has undermined the democratic process in this House, treated those who hold different views with disdain, and created a bludgeon where it should have built a bridge. This is the same dogmatic, arrogant approach that has guided the current Administration’s foreign policy – and which has undermined our nation’s credibility and driven many allies away from us.
“Mr. Speaker, I share the view that the Middle East and the world are better off with Hussein in custody and his Baathist regime destroyed. But our mission in Iraq has not been accomplished. Even as we speak here, a car bomb has rocked Baghdad and killed more than 20 people.
“And this comes on the heels of attacks on our troops, civilians and even innocent worshipers. Success must be our only exit strategy. And only when our objectives are accomplished can we say with certainty that the world has been made safer.
“As today’s events in Baghdad and last week’s horrific attacks in Spain make clear: this war has not been won – yet. But we send an unequivocal message to those who perpetrate such madness: we will not retreat from our objective to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.
“The legacy of the men and women who have committed the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq demands that we do no less. And it should also demand that we do so united by common resolve and not divided by efforts to achieve political advantage.”