National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: June 15, 2006
Location: Washington, DC


NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007 -- (Senate - June 15, 2006)

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I have listened with interest to my good friend from Nevada. I hope Senators will be more supportive of our elected allies who are the Government of Iraq. The national security adviser for the Government of Iraq just said a few hours ago:

And we will never give amnesty to those who have killed American soldiers or killed Iraqi soldiers or civilians.

So this notion of amnesty about a new, duly-elected Iraqi Government is a sideshow, an effort to divert our attention away from the core issue. Over in the House of Representatives today, they are having a much needed debate on the Iraq war. I had hoped that we would have that debate in the Senate. I read that several of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle were interested in offering an amendment that would codify what they have said publicly, which is that the troops ought to be out by the end of this year. I hope they will come down and offer that amendment. I hope we will have that debate. I think it is a good time to have that debate.

It is a good time to remind the American people that it is no accident that we have not been attacked again since 9/11. Nobody would have predicted that in the fall of 2001. If we asked for a show of hands in the Senate of how many Senators thought we would be attacked again that year, I think every hand would have gone up. Certainly, the American people expected another attack. By going on the offense, which the President suggested we do shortly after 9/11, we have succeeded dramatically in the principal reason for advancing the war on terrorism, and that was to protect us at home. Almost 5 years later, we have not been attacked again. While nobody will predict that we will never be attacked again, it is noteworthy that we have not been attacked again. Believe me, it is not an accident. Why have we not been attacked again? Because we went into Afghanistan and into Iraq. We liberated 50 million people. A lot of the terrorists are dead. Several are at Guantanamo. Many are hiding in their caves. Yes, some are still around doing mischief in Baghdad rather than in Washington or New York.

This is the time we ought to be having the debate about Iraq strategy. We are on the Defense authorization bill. Colleagues on the other side have said they were going to offer an amendment to advocate withdrawal by the end of the year. Let's have that debate. I cannot think of a better time.

Right now in Iraq, according to the latest AP story, since we were able to get Zarqawi last week, we have carried out 452 raids; 104 insurgents were killed during those actions; we have discovered 28 significant arms caches; 255 of the raids were joint operations, with 143 of them carried out by Iraqi forces alone; and the raids resulted in casualties of 759 anti-Iraqi elements. That is just in the last week. So we have them on the run in Iraq.

Why would anybody want to suggest that we ought to run when we have them on the run? But I think that is a legitimate debate. I hoped that we would have it. It is 2:10. I have been waiting anxiously all day, assuming that we would have that amendment laid down by those on the other side of the aisle and get on about the debate. Maybe we should have it in any event because it is time to step up and be counted.

Do we want to stay and finish the job and continue to protect America or do we want to send a message to the terrorists, when we have them on the run, that we are about to cut and run and leave them there to their own devices? I don't know any responsible countries in the world at this point, regardless of how they may have initially felt about the decision to go into Iraq, that think it is a good idea to leave now--particularly as we are making dramatic progress with their new constitution; a new, fully staffed government; the death of the most notorious terrorist in the country; these successful raids that have been carried out in the last week; and the effort underway to clean Baghdad out.

Why in the world would we want to say to those elements in Iraq, which want the country to be a haven for terrorism forever, that you can count on us to be out of here by the end of the year; that we are giving you adequate notice that we are leaving by the end of the year?

I see my colleague from Texas on the Senate floor. I wondered if he had a question.

Mr. CORNYN. Yes. Will the Senator yield for a question at this point?

Mr. McCONNELL. I will.

Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask the distinguished majority whip, isn't the real difference between those of us who believe war is bad and must never be fought and those of us who believe that war is bad but must sometimes be fought for the right reasons? What is the alternative to fighting the good fight that our troops are fighting in Iraq now? I just ask whether the Senator has heard any alternatives offered by our friends on the other side of the aisle?

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I say to my friend from Texas, the only alternative I heard suggested, I have read about it in the press--I have not heard it offered on the floor yet--is that we essentially give the terrorists advance notice that we are going to be out of the country by the end of the year.

Look, we all hate, as the Senator from Texas indicated, to read reports of the death of any of our troops. We value human life in this country greatly. We do not, however, honor those who have given their lives in this great cause by giving up when we are making dramatic progress. And it is also important to remember that while we value every single life, we have lost fewer of our soldiers liberating Afghanistan and Iraq--50 million people liberated--than we lost on 9/11 in one morning or in Normandy during the invasion in World War II.

So while we value every life and we regret the loss of each soldier, it is extremely difficult to fight a war and lose absolutely no one.

Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, if the Senator will yield for an additional question, I ask the distinguished majority whip, what does he believe the consequences in Iraq to be--and not just to Iraq, but to America itself in terms of our own security--if we were to precipitously draw down our forces and leave a void there that might then be filled by enemies of our country and, indeed, terrorists akin to those who attacked our country on 9/11?

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I say to my friend from Texas, I think one thing that is pretty obvious is the terrorists would have a haven from which to operate, once again, such as they had in Afghanistan for a number of years prior to our clearing that out and giving those folks an opportunity to set up a democratic government. They would have a base of operations right in the Middle East from which to attack our neighbors, to attack the Europeans, and probably attack us again. That would be the consequence of cutting and running just on the heels of making dramatic forward progress in Iraq.

Mr. CORNYN. If the Senator will yield for one final question, I just want to be sure I understood his earlier comments from the National Security Adviser for the Government of Iraq.

There had been some suggestion that the Iraqis were planning on granting amnesty to those who had killed American soldiers. But if I understood the distinguished majority whip, the National Security Adviser said:

And we will never give amnesty to those who killed American soldiers or who killed Iraqi soldiers or civilians.

If that language is true, that they would never do that, would the Senator care to venture a guess as to what the reason for this supposed sense of the Senate is to condemn some amnesty that will never be given?

Mr. McCONNELL. It sounds to me, I answer my good friend from Texas, as some kind of diversion from the core issue we ought to be debating in the Senate, which is these suggestions that have been made by a number of our colleagues that we ought to have all the troops out by the end of the year. It is time to have that debate in the Senate, not a sense-of-the-Senate resolution about a proposal, as the Senator from Texas points out, that has been shot down today by the National Security Adviser in Iraq who, as the Senator from Texas indicated, said today:

And we will never give amnesty to those who have killed American soldiers or who killed Iraqi soldiers or civilians.

What part of ``never give amnesty'' do our colleagues not understand?

Mr. NELSON of Florida. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. REID addressed the floor.

Mr. McCONNELL. I believe I have the floor. Would someone like to ask a question?

Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, will the Senator yield?

Mr. McCONNELL. I yield to my friend from Florida for a question.

Mr. NELSON of Florida. This Senator clearly doesn't support pulling the troops out of Iraq by the end of the year. This Senator offered an amendment which is a sense-of-the-Senate amendment that the Government of Iraq should not grant amnesty to persons known to have attacked, killed, or wounded members of the Armed Forces of the United States based on this morning's story in this newspaper that indicates comments that were made by the Prime Minister.

Is the Senator suggesting that he does not agree with the sense-of-the-Senate resolution being expressed in this amendment as laid down by this Senator from Florida?

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, answering the question, let me just repeat what the National Security Adviser in Iraq has just said:

And we will never give amnesty to those who killed American soldiers or who killed Iraqi soldiers or civilians.

Is it helpful to be passing resolutions condemning our allies in Iraq for positions that the National Security Adviser says the Government doesn't hold?

I am pleased to hear that my good friend from Florida opposes the amendment that I hope will be offered later today that calls for an American troop withdrawal by the end of the year. That is a debate I thought we were going to be having, rather than adopting resolutions condemning one part of the Iraqi Government or another--the Iraqi Government, of course, being a great ally of the United States in the war on terrorism.

Maybe that debate will occur later in the day, and I look forward to hearing from the Senator from Florida when we have that debate. I am sure he will be arguing the vote on that should be no, and the Senator from Florida, of course, will be entirely correct; that is exactly how that amendment should be dealt with. I hope it will be defeated overwhelmingly.

Mr. REID addressed the Chair.

Mr. McCONNELL. Does the Senator have a question or is he seeking the floor?

Mr. REID. I thought the Senator was finished.

Mr. McCONNELL. I yield the floor.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Would the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. CORNYN. I would.

Mr. McCONNELL. I know the Senator from Texas and I covered this a few moments ago, but I would ask the Senator from Texas again if it is not the case that the national security adviser to the Iraqi Government just this very day said the following: And we will never give amnesty to those who have killed American soldiers or killed Iraqi soldiers or civilians?

Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I would answer the distinguished majority whip by saying, that is exactly the quotation. The same individuals went on to say that who the Prime Minister is going to give amnesty to are those who have not committed the crimes, whether against Iraqis or coalition forces. He went on to say, they might probably have done some minor mistakes in storing some arms or allowing some terrorist to stay overnight or provided shelter. But he has expressly said: We will never give amnesty to those who have killed American soldiers or killed Iraqi soldiers or civilians.

Mr. McCONNELL. Would the Senator from Texas yield for an additional question?

Mr. CORNYN. I would.

Mr. McCONNELL. Might it not be just as useful an exercise to try to pass a resolution commending the Iraqi Government for the position they have taken today with regard to this discussion of amnesty?

Mr. CORNYN. I would answer the distinguished majority whip and say, I would feel much better about something that was constructive and encouraging in assisting the Iraqi Government in their determination not to give amnesty than I would in offering criticism where it appears to be gratuitous and where it is a distraction from the debate that I think the American people would want us to have; that is, under what conditions do we want to leave Iraq, and are some of the proposals that some of our colleagues on the Senate floor have made about setting timetables, are those in the best interests of the American people or do they endanger America by allowing perhaps those who are America's enemies, the enemies of all civilization, to plot and plan, and then use that failed state as a platform to export their terrorist activities to other parts of the world?

AMENDMENT NO. 4269 TO AMENDMENT NO. 4265

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk to the underlying amendment.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] proposes an amendment numbered 4269 to amendment No. 4265.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To require the withdrawal of United States Armed Forces from Iraq and urge the convening of an Iraq summit)

At the end of the amendment add the following:

SEC. __. UNITED STATES POLICY ON IRAQ.

(a) Withdrawal of Troops From Iraq.--

(1) SCHEDULE FOR WITHDRAWAL.--The President shall reach an agreement as soon as possible with the Government of Iraq on a schedule for the withdrawal of United States combat troops from Iraq by December 31, 2006, leaving only forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces.

(2) CONSULTATION WITH CONGRESS REQUIRED.--The President shall consult with Congress regarding such schedule and shall present such withdrawal agreement to Congress immediately upon the completion of the agreement.

(3) MAINTENANCE OF OVER-THE-HORIZON TROOP PRESENCE.--The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.

(b) Iraq Summit.--The President should convene a summit as soon as possible that includes the leaders of the Government of Iraq, leaders of the governments of each country bordering Iraq, representatives of the Arab League, the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, representatives of the European Union, and leaders of the governments of each permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, for the purpose of reaching a comprehensive political agreement for Iraq that addresses fundamental issues including federalism, oil revenues, the militias, security guarantees, reconstruction, economic assistance, and border security.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the amendment I have sent to the desk is the amendment that I believe the Senator from Massachusetts, Mr. Kerry, had indicated he was going to be offering today so that we can have an appropriate debate on this very important day about whether it is appropriate to withdraw American troops by the end of 2006. That is the second-degree amendment that I just sent to the desk.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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AMENDMENT NO. 4272

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, pursuant to the agreement just entered into, I send an amendment to the desk.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The pending amendment will be set aside. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell] proposes an amendment numbered 4272.

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To commend the Iraqi Government for affirming its positions of no amnesty for terrorists who have attacked U.S. forces)

Sec. __. Sense of the Congress Commending the Government of Iraq for affirming its Position of No Amnesty for Terrorists who Attack U.S. Armed Forces.

(a) Findings. Congress makes the following findings:

(1) The Armed Forces of the United States and coalition military forces are serving heroically in Iraq to provide all the people of Iraq a better future.

(2) The Armed Forces of the United States and coalition military forces have served bravely in Iraq since the beginning of military operations in March 2003.

(3) More than 2,500 of the Armed Forces of the United States and members of coalition military forces have been killed and more than 18,000 injured in operations to bring peace and stability to all the people of Iraq.

(b) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that the new Government of Iraq is commended for its statement by the National Security Adviser of Iraq on June 15, 2006 that--

(1) thanked ``the American wives and American women and American mothers for the treasure and the blood they have invested in this country ..... of liberating 30 million people in this country ..... And we are ever so grateful.'' and

(2) that affirmed their position that they ``will never give amnesty to those who have killed American soldiers or killed Iraqi soldiers or civilians''.

Mr. McCONNELL. I yield the floor.

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