Statement on Iraq Supplemental Appropriations Bill

i thank the gentleman for yielding. i chair the previous speaker's sorrow. i am sorry that the policies pursued by this administration TimeCode: 11:01:38.6 have not done what he wanted to do, support our troops. we sent too few. we equipped them too little. and we have left them too long TimeCode: 11:01:58.6 and trained them for too short a time. yes, i'm sorry. and the american public expects us, the congress of the united states, to do something. TimeCode: 11:02:15.1 not simply to say yes to failed pol -- policies, but to on their behalf speak out and try to take us in a new direction. mr. speaker, there is not a TimeCode: 11:02:31.5 member of this body on either side of the aisle who does not pray for our success in iraq. and who does not pray for the safe return of our brave service men and women. TimeCode: 11:02:48.1 however after the loss of more than 3,200 american soldiers and more than 24,000 injured, and after the expenditure of more than $400 billion on a war now entering its fifth year, TimeCode: 11:03:07.3 secretary rumsfeld told us would take just a few months, with open arms and cheering in the streets, this war would be over and the mission would have TimeCode: 11:03:22.6 been accomplished almost four years ago, said the president of the united states. who now asks us to rubber stamp no strings attached, do it as mr. putnam said, before supper. that's not what the american TimeCode: 11:03:39.3 public expects of us. they expect better. they expect a new direction. they expect us to think not simply say amen, mr. president. the defense department says that, and i quote, some TimeCode: 11:03:54.6 elements of the situation in iraq are properly described as a civil war. none of us who voted for the original authorization voted to put our troops in the middle of a civil war. TimeCode: 11:04:08.9 not one of us. the iraq government has failed to meet political goals. it is our responsibility to ask them to do so because we want to support our troops. TimeCode: 11:04:27.3 and if the iraqis do not accept their responsibilities, our troops will not be supported. our intelligence estimate includes that this war is increasing, this is the national intelligence estimate, TimeCode: 11:04:40.3 increasing the global war of TimeCode: 11:04:44.8 terror. and the army chief of staff hasish chewed strong warnings about the effect of the war on america's overall military readiness. mr. murtha has talked about that for at least the last two years. TimeCode: 11:05:01.1 my friend, the ranking member of the appropriations committee, with whom i served for a quarter century on that committee, he must share the concern about military readiness that all of us share. and know that we are eroding TimeCode: 11:05:20.6 our military readiness every day. thus the question before the members today is this -- will we change direction in iraq? or will we continue to stay the TimeCode: 11:05:33.8 course with a failing policy? mr. speaker, i believe the answer is clear. it is long past time that this congress assert itself and insist on accountability and a new direction in iraq. more blank checks from this TimeCode: 11:05:49.9 congress would constitute an abdication of our responsibility and our duty. four years of abdication is enough. it is time my fellow members, for congress to assert its TimeCode: 11:06:09.6 support of our troops. by adopting policies that will keep them safe and enhance their success. this legislation, the u.s. troop readiness veterans health and iraq accountability act, TimeCode: 11:06:24.4 will protect our troops, requiring deployments to adhere to an existing defense department standard. not our standards. defense department standards. standards for training, equipment, and armor while allowing the president to waive these standards which are his TimeCode: 11:06:44.3 own, the administration standards. if he believes it necessary. that is the right thing for us to do. the bill also holds the iraqi government accountable measuring its performance by the standards president bush TimeCode: 11:06:59.2 outlined in his january 10th speech. not our spands for iraq, but the -- standards for iraq, but the benchmarks the president of the united states has set. but if they are only rhetorical benchmarks with nothing behind them to require that action, TimeCode: 11:07:14.6 then we are wasting our time in supporting our troops because that will not do it. and the bill provides a responsible strategy for a phased redeployment of u.s. forces and refocuses our efforts on fighting al qaeda. TimeCode: 11:07:30.7 that is who attacked us. not the sunni or shiah. but al qaeda. now some claim that this legislation will micromanage the war. that assertion is absolutely false and without ground. TimeCode: 11:07:49.1 our commander in chief, general petraeus, and our military commanders on the ground, will retain all the flexibility they need to succeed. this legislation in no way undercuts their discretion on TimeCode: 11:08:05.3 the ground. the only strings attached concerning troop readiness and the iraq government's progress have been endorsed by president bush. others assert that inclusion of a timeline for responsible deployment is tantamount to TimeCode: 11:08:23.2 capitulation. mr. hobson spoke on this floor just a few minutes ago. he voted to set a timeline in bosnia. mr. lewis sits as the ranking member of this committee, he voted on june 24, 1997, to set TimeCode: 11:08:41.3 a timeline. mr. hastert, speaker of the house, set a timeline. mr. delay voted for a time line. mr. blunt, voted for a time line. mr. boehner, voted for a time line. every one of them voted for a TimeCode: 11:08:56.6 timeline. what were the circumstances? we hadn't lost a single troop. not one. we had spent $7 billion, not $379 billion. we had brought genocide to a stop, ethnic cleansing to a stop, and we are not losing TimeCode: 11:09:10.6 people, and we had a stable environment. yet they voted for a timeline. here secretary gates says in testimony at his confirmation hearing, we are not winning. if that's the case, it is time TimeCode: 11:09:27.8 for us to have a new strategy, a new direction, a new paradigm, if you will. that is what this bill does. mr. boehner said just a few TimeCode: 11:09:42.3 weeks ago, in terms of timelines, he said, quote, i think it will be rather clear in the next 60 to 90 days as to whether this plan, the current escalation, is going to work. TimeCode: 11:09:55.4 we need to know, mr. boehner said, as we are moving through these benchmarks that the iraqis are doing what they have to do. nothing this this bill will undermine that 60 or 90-day expectation that the minority TimeCode: 11:10:12.6 leader, the republican leader, has articulated. under this legislation if the iraqis meet their benchmarks for progress, the redeployment of american forces will not begin until a year from now. will not begin until a year from now. TimeCode: 11:10:28.0 this is not any precipitous withdrawal. and indeed if there's total success it will be more than a year from now. finally, let me point out as i have said earlier that timelines were supported in TimeCode: 11:10:45.2 july of 1997, 220-2. only two republicans voted against setting a timeline. i voted against that timeline. TimeCode: 11:11:05.1 and i said at this time why did i say that? because we were succeeding. we were not losing troops. we had stopped genocide. we had stopped ethnic cleansing. TimeCode: 11:11:16.8 we had a stable government in serbia. we were winning and our strategy was succeeding. and under those circumstances i thought timelines were not appropriate. but there's not a military general i've talked to who has said we are succeeding. TimeCode: 11:11:35.0 today, this very day, the deputy prime minister of iraq lies deeply wounded, life at risk. if a member congress goes to baghdad, they will not drive TimeCode: 11:11:50.4 you from the airport to the green zone. why? because they do not believe it's safe. almost 50 months after we started this operation. my friends, it is time for a new direction. i urge my colleagues on both TimeCode: 11:12:06.7 sides of the aisle, support the troops. represent america. represent your team who -- people who want to win but do not want to leave our troops in the middle of a civil war. support this well thought out TimeCode: 11:12:24.2 crafted piece of legislation which in no way undermines the ability of our troops to manage this war but says to them, we will expect the iraqis to perform and we will give you a time frame in which the world TimeCode: 11:12:39.1 will know that they must themselves take responsibility. i thank the gentleman for the time.