Despite the strong wishes of the American people the war in Iraq drags on and on and on. More Americans and Iraqis are dead, more property is lost, $8 billion more a month is being spent, greater and greater stress is being placed on our active duty personnel as well as our National Guard.
Meanwhile, al Qaeda grows in influence and deadly effectiveness. While American troops see their tours of duty extended, IEDs and suicide bombing techniques learned in Iraq have now been exported to Afghanistan.
In the last several months some real progress has been in Congress in changing our policies in Iraq but, clearly, more needs to be done.
We have a majority of the Senate on record opposing the president's Iraq escalation policy. And now, the Senate has passed legislation that is responsible, that is binding, and that is bipartisan, requiring the safe redeployment of our brave troops to begin in 120 days with a goal of bringing the vast majority of our troops out of Iraq by the end of March 2008.
These are important steps toward ending the current open-ended mission in Iraq but much, much more needs to be done, which is why I am supporting the recently introduced Feingold-Reid legislation.
This bill uses Congress's constitutional spending power to force the president to safely redeploy troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008. After that point, the President can only spend money in Iraq for three specific and limited purposes:
- One - to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations;
- Two - to protect U.S. infrastructure and personnel;
- Three - to train and equip Iraqi security forces.
Let me be clear - this proposal will not cut funding for our brave men and women in uniform. Not one cent. They will still receive their salaries, body armor, and all the other resources they need. It would simply redeploy them to other areas where the military is utilized.
When they voted in November, Americans didn't just want us to simply oppose the "surge." They wanted us to end the war. And that's what some of us intend to do.
Both the Senate and the House have passed bills that give the troops the funding they need while also giving the American people what they are demanding - a change of course in Iraq. It's incredible that this president would veto funds for the troops because Congress chose to acknowledge the will of the American people.
We will not be deterred by a veto or by the self-deluding rhetoric coming from die-hard supporters of the president's misguided Iraq policy. We will only work harder to act on the ever-growing consensus that ending our military involvement in Iraq is the right thing to do for our troops, our national security, and our ongoing fight against the global terrorist networks that threaten the safety of all Americans.