Statement on the Iraq Supplemental

i thank the chairman of the committee for yielding. TimeCode: 17:26:05.9 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. TimeCode: 17:26:20.6 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 at the president's policies are failing and after four years of repeated TimeCode: 17:26:37.3 misjudgments in iraq by this administration, it is long past time to insist that the administration and the iraqi government be held accountable for making progress and that we must change direction in iraq. TimeCode: 17:26:53.0 in fact, the american public strongly support the democratic position on the war. just today the latest "new york times"/cbs poll found that 76% of americans, including a TimeCode: 17:27:08.2 majority of republicans, say that the troop surge has either had no impact or made the situation in iraq worse. meanwhile, 63% said that the united states should set a date for withdrawing troops sometime in 2008. TimeCode: 17:27:25.8 that is what the bill we sent to the president did. he vetoed it. that position was adopted by the majority of this house and the majority of the senate in the last supplemental bill. 69% say congress should TimeCode: 17:27:39.6 appropriate money for the war on the condition that we set benchmarks for progress. i am pleased that the warner language is in there, but it is not enough. mr. speaker, it is deeply disappointing that the president continues to defy the will of TimeCode: 17:27:56.0 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 TimeCode: 17:28:10.9 to hold the administration accountable. is it as far as we're going to go? it is not. should we go further? we must. make no mistake, this amendment does not provide everything we had hoped for, but i do not believe that it constitutes a TimeCode: 17:28:26.4 blank check or that this congress is rubber-stamping the president's request. the president did not want the warner amendment attached and doesn't want any constraints. this amendment requires the president to report on progress TimeCode: 17:28:40.9 in july and september. and ties all economic support for iraq to progress on the benchmarks, although a waiver is required. why? because the president said he would veto the bill if it was TimeCode: 17:28:56.7 not. the fact is, this is simply the best bill we could put together and that would be signed. it's a political reality. it is not what we want to pass. it imposes truly for the first time ever a level of accountability that did not TimeCode: 17:29:12.7 exist however previously. for the first time ever, we are also calling for the iraqi security forces to step up and do the job assigned to them. so our soldiers can step down by providing funding for an outside review of the iraq security TimeCode: 17:29:29.5 forces's current capacity and their reliance on our armed forces. we have moved the ball forward. far enough? no. do we need to move further? yes. but we have advanced toward a new direction and a new policy in iraq. TimeCode: 17:29:43.5 and 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 to be considered. finally, mr. speaker, let me say that i am very pleased the second amendment being TimeCode: 17:30:00.9 considered will provide for the first time in a decade a long overdue increase in the federal minimum wage as well as an additional funding for defense and veterans' health care and homeland security. drought relief the state TimeCode: 17:30:16.7 children's health insurance program and gulf coast recovery, the katrina provision is a critical one. mr. speaker, i will vote for both of these amendments and i urge my colleagues to do so as well. .