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U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care Katrina Recovery, And Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


U.S. TROOP READINESS, VETERANS' CARE, KATRINA RECOVERY, AND IRAQ ACCOUNTABILITY APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007 -- (House of Representatives - May 10, 2007)

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Mr. HOLT. I thank my friend from Wisconsin.

Mr. Speaker, 4 years ago, President Bush used soldiers and sailors as stage props to declare that major combat operations in Iraq have ended. Well, indeed those combat operations should have ended, in fact, they never should have begun. This combat is constitutionally and strategically unjustifiable, operationally poorly executed with regard to armoring and deploying the troops, and politically and diplomatically disastrous.

This war is not making anyone more safer or more free, and it cannot be won militarily. As retired General Odom said, the challenge we face today is not how to win in Iraq but how to recover from a strategic mistake, invading Iraq in the first place.

The President continues to squander American influence, blood and treasure. It is the President's intransigence that forces us to pass this bill to force a change in the course in Iraq. The President needs to know that the days of congressional blank checks in support of a failed policy are over. We cannot continue to buy time with American lives.

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Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of our troops and for ending President Bush's war in Iraq.

This bill gives the President all the money he needs to ensure our troops have the equipment, ammunition, fuel, food, spare parts, and anything else they need to ensure their safety and security. What this bill does not give the President is the blank check with no questions and no accountability that he's come to expect over the last 4 years. Those days are over.

Yesterday's Washington Post front page story on the President's ``surge'' strategy was entitled ``Commanders in Iraq See `Surge' Into '08.'' While General Petreaus told the Congress earlier this year that we could determine the effectiveness of the troop increase within several months, General Odierno is trying to ``get until April (2008, that is) so we can decide whether to keep it going or not.''

If the Post's report is accurate--that the surge that was supposed to last several months will now last for well over a year--then it is more imperative than ever that we place clear limits on our future involvement in Iraq. We cannot continue to buy time with American lives and taxpayer dollars to support a fundamentally flawed policy.

Nor should we continue down this road when the Iraqis themselves fail to take the steps necessary to heal the divisions in their own country. Americans deserve to know that Iraq's government is about to take a 2-month vacation--while Baghdad burns and American troops continue to die daily amid the crossfire of Iraq's civil war. As the current U.S. troop ``surge'' reaches completion around mid-June, Iraq's parliament will adjourn for 2 months.

If Iraq's government is prepared to go AWOL in the middle of their civil war, why should we stay? Why should more of our troops die to help protect a government that leaves town with the battle raging on the streets of Baghdad?

I want to thank my friend, the gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. McGovern, for offering his own blueprint for redeploying our forces from Iraq. I'm pleased to be able to support this measure, and I commend Mr. McGovern for his relentless commitment to help this House get it right on Iraq--to demand accountability for those responsible for the situation in Iraq.

That's what this debate is really about: getting Iraq's leaders to take responsibility for their country's security and its future. We can't end their civil war--only they can, but only if their political leaders cancel their 2-month vacation and get down to the hard work of building a new Iraq.

If enacted, this bill would incentivize them to do exactly that--it would force them to focus their full energies on reaching a political solution to Iraq's civil war, or face the prospect of a cut off in U.S. aid.

Mr. Speaker, President Bush announced his intention to veto this bill before it ever came to the House floor. His veto threat proves that he's more interested in continuing his war with Congress than he is in finding a bipartisan solution to the war in Iraq. That threat is all the more reason why we need to pass this bill so we can do what the American people have asked us to do: to end America's tragic misadventure in Iraq.

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