Measure sent to president contains funding for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, National Guard, veterans, and wounded soldiers
Thursday, following the Senate's approval of the Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement:
"The bill we passed today provides a clear path forward. It delivers much-needed resources and support to our troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan and to our veterans. It also makes clear that the United States should no longer maintain an open-ended commitment in Iraq. Our troops can't patrol Iraqi streets forever. This conflict requires a political solution, with our combat troops coming home as Iraqis take control of their own security and their own future. In the end, Iraq's future is in the hands of the Iraqi people and they must make the political compromises needed to stabilize their country.
"This is a solid bill that funds our troops and veterans in full, and also takes care of urgent needs here at home. It aids hurricane recovery along the Gulf Coast, helps Washington farmers hit hard by storms, supports domestic counter-terrorism efforts, and funds desperately needed upgrades at places like Walter Reed that care for our wounded soldiers."
The Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate on a 51 to 46 vote and is now headed to the president's desk, provides for a change of course in Iraq and a gradual redeployment of U.S. combat troops. It sets a goal of withdrawing most U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of March 2008, if President Bush can certify that the Iraqi government is meeting benchmarksand by the end of this year if he cannot. Specifically, it requires President Bush to certify that the Iraqi government is meeting diplomatic and security benchmarks. If the President makes that certification, redeployment of U.S. combat troops would begin no later than October 1, 2007, with the goal of completing the redeployment within 180 days. After that period, a limited number of U.S. forces could remain in Iraq for force protection, to train and equip Iraqi troops, and to conduct targeted counterterrorism operations. If the President fails to make the certification, the redeployment of U.S. troops would begin by July 1, 2007, with a similar 180-day goal for completion.
The Iraq Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill also includes $20 million to repair Walter Reed, and $100 million for brain trauma injury and post-traumatic stress disorder treatment and research. The legislation includes $1.8 billion for wounded veterans, an additional $1 billion above the amount requested by the president to address Army National Guard equipment shortfalls, and $3 billion for mine resistant ambush protected vehicles.