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Public Statements

U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, And Iraq Accountability Act, 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


U.S. TROOP READINESS, VETERANS' HEALTH, AND IRAQ ACCOUNTABILITY ACT, 2007 -- (House of Representatives - April 25, 2007)

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Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a heavy heart. This week, nine of my fellow paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division were killed in Iraq. Nine more heroes killed, nine more paratroopers returning home in coffins draped in the American flag.

Mr. Speaker, Daniel Webster's words that are etched in the marble above implore each of us in this room, and I quote, ``To see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.''

Mr. Speaker, I know the task is daunting, but let this Congress be remembered for leading our country in a new direction in Iraq.

Mr. Speaker, I was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. Nineteen of my fellow paratroopers I served with never made it home from the streets of Baghdad. I carry their names with me every single day to remind myself of the solemn responsibility we face each time the Speaker bangs down her gavel.

Nineteen men, including Specialist Chad Keith from Indiana. Nineteen guys who never made it home to their families. Specialist James Lambert III, from North Carolina. Nineteen all Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Private Kyle Gilbert from Vermont. Nineteen men who are missed. Private First Class Marc Seidan from New Jersey. Nineteen men. Now we have nine more paratroopers to add to this list.

Mr. Speaker, how many more suicide bombs must kill American soldiers before this President offers a time line for our troops to come home?

How many more military leaders must declare the war will not be won militarily before this President demands that the Iraqis stand up and fight for their country?

How many more terrorists will President Bush's foreign policy breed before he focuses on developing a new strategy, a real strategy for fighting and beating al Qaeda?

Mr. Speaker, this bill says enough is enough. No more shortchanging our troops. No more open ended commitment in Iraq. No more refereeing a religious civil war.

Mr. Speaker, on the fourth anniversary of the war, I led this body in a moment of silence. Now my fellow Democrats offer a time line to bring our troops home.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are about to vote ``no'' on this bill, will you stand with us next year to offer a time line on the war's fifth anniversary?

How about a time line on the sixth? How about a time line on the 10th? Because that's what voting ``no'' does. It says no to the tough questions. No to accountability and no to providing our troops on the ground with a clear mission.

Mr. Speaker, I may be hopeful, but I am not naive. I hear Vice President Cheney taunt patriotic Americans who are concerned with the direction of our country. I see the President using his veto to hold our troops hostage to further his failed strategy in Iraq. I read the Bush Republicans' attacks questioning my patriotism and support for my fellow soldiers. But, Mr. Speaker, we have all heard these attacks before.

The American people know that President Bush and his allies are sadly out of touch. The American people know that supporting the troops means demanding accountability. The American people know we need a change.

Mr. Speaker, one of my fellow soldiers lost his brother in the World Trade Center on September 11 of 2001. This soldier is now in Iraq serving on his second deployment. And last week he sent me a message, unsolicited. It said, and I quote, ``Never did I think I would disagree with our foreign policy 5 years after my brother was murdered. Our latest mission here is to secure the Iraqi people. I signed up to secure the American people.''

My fellow colleagues, this bill, this vote helps us secure the American people. For too long the American people have been craving leadership, craving accountability, and craving a new direction in Iraq. Let's give this to them today.

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