Majority Leader Hoyer on the Iraq Resolution

mr. speaker, three months ago the american people sent a resounding message, a message for change. they voted for a new direction TimeCode: 10:33:46.4 in our nation, including a new direction for the war in iraq, which will enter its fifth year next month. this week on this house floor the members of this great body can demonstrate that we not TimeCode: 10:34:00.9 only have heard the voters' message but also that we have the collective will to send one of our own. the bipartisan resolution before us asks that members one straightforward question be TimeCode: 10:34:16.7 answered -- do you approve of the president's proposal to deploy more than 20,000 additional troops in iraq or do you not? thus, this resolution is a clarifying moment for the members to say precisely where TimeCode: 10:34:33.6 they stand on the president's plan. there is little doubt that our iraq policy is not succeeding. our commander in chief, president bush, acknowledged on this floor last month during his state of the union address TimeCode: 10:34:48.0 that, and i quote, whatever you voted for are you did not vote for failure. i voted for the authorization, and i did not vote for failure. but the policies being purr TimeCode: 10:35:03.1 seed by this administration have not led to success -- pursued by this administration have not led to success. after four years of war, after our sons and daughters have given their sacrifice in iraq, TimeCode: 10:35:20.3 after more than 30,000 have been wounded, after more than $4 billion spent on this war, our success seems as remote as TimeCode: 10:35:34.8 ever. not surprisingly, 2/3 of the american people oppose the president's escalation plan. so do many current and former senior military and president TimeCode: 10:35:50.9 maliki has opposed this. i oppose the president's plan for several reasons. first, we simply cannot ignore TimeCode: 10:36:01.9 that many miscalculations made about this war, from sending too few troops to grossly underestimating the cost to failing to properly plan for the postwar period. TimeCode: 10:36:14.2 the president repeatedly said that his policies were working. he was tragically wrong. just as he is wrong today, in my view, about this escalation. secondly, this troop escalation TimeCode: 10:36:33.9 does not represent a new strategy. in fact, we've tried at least four escalations in the past. none of which has succeeded in quelling violence. the time for more troops was TimeCode: 10:36:48.1 four years ago, three years ago, perhaps even two years ago, but not today. the fact is our commitment of forces has never, has never been commence rate with the TimeCode: 10:37:05.8 risk the president says exists. never. never has the president, the commander in chief suggested the resources necessary to succeed. this is too little, tragically, TimeCode: 10:37:24.3 too late. third, we cannot disregard the deep skepticisms and warnings of our military leaders. general abizaid, not just another soldier, but the former chief of the central command in TimeCode: 10:37:37.4 charge of our effort in iraq, has stated that, and i quote, more american forces prevent the iraqis from doing more from taking more responsibility for their own future. that is the consequence general TimeCode: 10:37:54.0 abizaid believes of the president's policy. former secretary of state powell, one of the military leaders so successful in iraq one states, and i quote again, i am not persuaded that another surge of troops into baghdad TimeCode: 10:38:10.1 for the purposes of suppressing the violence this civil war will work. that's general powell. and even senator mccain, who supports the president's escalation, nonetheless said TimeCode: 10:38:27.9 just last week, i don't think it enhances our chances for succeeding in iraq. it is obvious that there is not a military solution to the violence in iraq. we need a diplomatic surge, a surge of iraqi responsibility. TimeCode: 10:38:47.5 we must implement an aggressive diplomatic strategy as suggested but our friend, frank wolf, both within the region and beyond. the iraqis must take the lead on security and the mission of TimeCode: 10:39:01.7 american forces must shift from combat to counterterrorism, training and logistics. and we must begin the responsible redeployment of our forces. TimeCode: 10:39:17.1 now let me close by urging members to disregard the arguments of those who seek to mischaracterize this resolution . some say that the resolution will demoralize our troops. in a democracy it is proper and TimeCode: 10:39:37.7 essential that we debate the tactics and strategy we're employing when we are asking young americans and some not so young americans to be at the point of the spear. TimeCode: 10:39:50.6 it is easy for us to talk about tactics and strategy, not so easy for those who are in harm's way. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general pace, says this debate will not adversely effect morale as TimeCode: 10:40:12.8 we've made clear over and over and over again, we will not abandon, we will not undersupply, we will not undertrain, and we will not TimeCode: 10:40:21.4 defund those who we have put in harm's way. we will support our troops today, tomorrow and every day thereafter. some say that this resolution will demoralize our troops. yet general pace, as i said, TimeCode: 10:40:37.7 says otherwise. others say that this resolution has not received adequate consideration. yet i tell my friends in the first six weeks of this new congress we have held 52 house and senate hearings. TimeCode: 10:40:54.4 for the last four years, this TimeCode: 10:40:57.9 congress has been absent without leave, and the american people know it. we did not demand accountability. we did not look at strategy. we did not question the president's policies. 52 hearings have been held TimeCode: 10:41:12.4 today. and chairman lantos has announced that he will hold a full committee hearing on all pending resolutions related to iraq when we come back from the president's daybreak. some say that this resolution TimeCode: 10:41:27.1 is merely symbolic -- president's day break. some say that this resolution is merely symbolic. i say that the will of this house, when it mirrors the views of the vast majority of the american public, cannot, TimeCode: 10:41:42.0 must not, should not be casually ignored. some say that this resolution seems like real estate treat on the war on terror. as one who is absolutely committed to prevailing in the TimeCode: 10:41:58.9 war on terror, to protect our people, to protect our country and, yes, to protect my three daughters. my three grandchildren, and my great grandchild. i am absolutely committed to TimeCode: 10:42:14.8 policies that will protect us from terror and defeat those terrorists who threaten us. continuing to support failed strategy, however, weakens our efforts in the war on terror. TimeCode: 10:42:31.3 it does not strengthen them. furthermore, our failure to implement an effective strategy in iraq has clearly, indisputabley resulted in encouraging and enhancing the ability of terrorists to TimeCode: 10:42:47.5 recruit and spread their twisted, hateful, violent ideology. finally, my colleagues, some assert that this resolution is the first step to defunding our troops in the field. this is categoryically false. TimeCode: 10:43:07.6 while the others -- our commitment to our men and women in harm's way is unwaivering. mr. speaker, there is not a TimeCode: 10:43:20.0 member of this body, not one, on either side of the aisle, who does not pray for our nation's success in iraq. our brave service men and women have performed there with valor and with great honor. TimeCode: 10:43:35.4 they have done everything that a grateful nation has asked of them since the beginning of this war. we will not abandon them. i say to them directly, we will not abandon you, we will support you and we will assure TimeCode: 10:43:51.2 that you are trained and equipped for the mission that we give you. this is a critical moment, i tell you, my colleagues, in our nation's war effort in iraq. the president's policy is failing, and his most recent TimeCode: 10:44:08.7 proposal promises more of the same. this resolution is a first step in our attempt to forge a new direction in iraq, and i urge every member to support it.