UNANIMOUS CONSENT AGREEMENT -- (Senate - May 24, 2007)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it was important from the outset that this supplemental, these funds, be provided to the troops by Memorial Day. The President told us the first week in February that he needed the funds to support troops stationed overseas. A month and a half after the Secretary of Defense stepped in, he said delays would seriously disrupt key military programs. The Army Chief of Staff told us if he didn't get the funds soon, he would have to take Draconian measures that would impact readiness and impose hardships on soldiers and their families. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pace, said delays would force the Army to cut quality-of-life initiatives.
Then the calls started coming from Iraq. The chief spokesman of the Multinational Forces, General Caldwell, told us that delays in funding have already started to hamstring our efforts to train Iraqi security units. That was more than a month and a half ago.
It was 108 days ago the President said he needed funds for the troops. But since that first request in early February until today, Congress has voted more than 30 times on Iraq-related measures without approving a single dime. Mr. President, 108 days and more than 30 votes later, Congress is finally sending these funds to the troops.
Many on this side of the aisle are disappointed that the final bill contains billions of dollars in spending for items unrelated to the war, but we are relieved the Democratic leadership has decided to strip a reckless and nonsensical surrender date from the bill.
One other thing. It is important the Iraqi Government be held accountable. It needs to engage in political reconciliation, and this bill calls upon them to do just that. Members on both sides are deeply frustrated with the Iraqi Government. Anything that puts pressure on them without putting pressure on U.S. troops is a step in the right direction.
I have been saying since January that benchmarks would be a good idea. General Petraeus and General Pace have said the Baghdad security plan is a necessary precondition for political progress in Iraq. We need to be sure Iraqi politicians are putting the same effort into their half of the bargain as our men and women in uniform.
General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will report back to Congress at the end of the summer, and the success or failure of the security plan will be clear by the end of the year.
I strongly urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this bill, which finally gives the troops the funds they need. We should remember as we return home to our families this weekend that thousands of American men and women will be fighting for us far away from their homes. The very least we can do for them this Memorial Day is to give them the tools they need to stay in the fight.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.