Growing Momentum Behind Obama, Thompson, Murphy Redeployment Plan
The Iraq De-escalation plan introduced by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Patrick Murphy (D-PA) has gained the support of 62 Members of Congress, including 3 Republicans. This momentum comes as public support continues to grow for an Iraq plan that will hold Iraqis accountable to benchmarks, prevent our troops from refereeing a civil war, and remove combat brigades from Iraq by early 2008.
"Because of the President's failed strategy, and despite the valiant efforts of our troops, our military options in Iraq have been exhausted," said Senator Barack Obama. "The American people and the new Congressional majority, along with some wise Republicans, agree that we should begin to redeploy our troops from Iraq so that a political solution can be found."
"Setting a timeline for redeployment is the right thing to do for our troops and our country," said Representative Thompson. "This bill provides an achievable strategy for getting our combat troops out as safely and quickly as possible, while also helping the Iraqi government secure and rebuild its country. It's time to focus our resources on getting the Iraqi government and its neighbors to step up and take responsibility for Iraq's future."
"Our troops have done what's been asked of them, now it's time for the Iraqis to step up and fight for their country. A timeline will show the Iraqis that we will not be there indefinitely and that they need to come off the sidelines," said Representative Murphy. "As someone who served in Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne Division, I can tell you that we need a political solution - not to send more American fighting men and women to referee an Iraqi civil war. This is about doing what's right for our country, and this is a tough, yet sensible plan to do just that."
The De-Escalation Act would:
* Stops the Escalation: Caps the number of U.S. troops in Iraq at the number in Iraq on January 10, 2007. This does not affect the funding for our troops in Iraq. This cap has the force of law and could not be lifted without explicit Congressional authorization.
* De-escalates the War with Phased Redeployment: Commences a phased redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq not later than May 1, 2007, with the goal that all combat brigades redeploy from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group. This redeployment will be both substantial and gradual, and will be planned and implemented by military commanders. Makes clear that Congress believes troops should be redeployed to the United States; to Afghanistan; and to other points in the region. A residual U.S. presence may remain in Iraq for force protection, training of Iraqi security forces, and pursuit of international terrorists.
* Enforces Tough Benchmarks for Progress: These 13 benchmarks are based on President Bush's own statements and Administration documents and include:
o Security: Significant progress toward fulfilling security commitments, including eliminating restrictions on U.S. forces, reducing sectarian violence, reducing the size and influence of the militias, and strengthening the Iraqi Army and Police.
o Political Accommodation: Significant progress toward reaching a political solution, including equitable sharing of oil revenues, revision of de-Baathification, provincial elections, even-handed provision of government services, and a fair process for a constitutional amendment to achieve national reconciliation.
o Economic Progress: Requires Iraq to fulfill its commitment to spend not less than $10 billion for reconstruction, job creation, and economic development without regard for the ethnic or sectarian make-up of Iraqi regions.
Should these benchmarks be met, the plan allows for the temporary suspension of this redeployment, subject to the agreement of Congress.
* Congressional oversight: Requires the President to submit reports to Congress every 90 days describing and assessing the Iraqi government's progress in meeting benchmarks and the redeployment goals.
* Intensified Training: Intensifies training of Iraqi security forces to enable the country to take over security responsibility of the country.
* Conditions on Economic Assistance: Conditions future economic assistance to the Government of Iraq on significant progress toward achievement of benchmarks. Allows exceptions for humanitarian, security, and job-creation assistance.
* Regional Diplomacy: Launches a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic initiative - that includes key nations in the region - to help achieve a political settlement among the Iraqi people, end the civil war in Iraq, and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and regional conflict. Recommends the President should appoint a Special Envoy for Iraq to carry out this diplomacy within 60 days. Mandates that the President submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from becoming a wider regional conflict.