(202) 225 - 3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following statement on the House Floor today in support of the Iraq funding bill:
“Madam Speaker, no matter how the Members vote on the two amendments before the House on this measure, I know that every one of us is absolutely committed to our men and women in harm’s way, and prays for their safe return home.
“I also know that the Members on our side of the aisle – regardless of how we vote on these amendments – are united in our collective judgment that the President’s policy is failing; that after four years of repeated misjudgments on Iraq by this Administration, it is long past time to insist that the Administration and Iraqi government be held accountable for making progress; and that we must change direction in Iraq.
“In fact, the American people strongly support the Democratic position on the war in Iraq. Just today, the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll found that 76 percent of Americans – including a majority of Republicans – say that the troop surge has either had no impact or made the situation in Iraq worse. Meanwhile, 63 percent said the United States should set a date for withdrawing troops sometime in 2008 – a position adopted by the Democratic House Majority, but vetoed by President Bush in the supplemental funding bill sent to him. And, 69 percent say Congress should appropriate money for the war on the condition that we set benchmarks for progress.
“Madam Speaker, it is deeply disappointing that the President continues to defy the will of the American people.
“But today, with this amendment – which includes 18 strong, new benchmarks on political, security and economic progress and other reporting requirements – I believe this Congress has moved the ball forward and begun to hold the administration accountable.
“Make no mistake: This amendment does not provide everything we had hoped for. But I do not believe that it constitutes a blank check or that this Congress is rubber-stamping the President’s request.
“In addition to benchmarks, this amendment requires the President to report on progress in July and September, and ties all economic support for Iraq to progress on the benchmarks – although a waiver is provided.
“But the fact is, this is simply the best bill we could put together. It imposes – truly for the first time ever – a level of accountability that did not exist previously. It calls on the Iraqi security forces to step up and do the job assigned to them, so that our soldiers can stand down, and provides funding for an outside review of the Iraqi security force’s current capacity and their reliance on our armed forces.
“In the months ahead, we will continue to fight for a new direction in Iraq in the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill and other measures.
“Finally, let me say that I am very pleased that the other amendment being considered will provide for the first time in a decade a long-overdue increase in the federal minimum wage, as well as additional funding for defense and veterans health care, homeland security, drought relief, the state children’s health insurance program, and Gulf Coast recovery.
“Madam Speaker, I will vote for both of these amendments.”