November 15, 2007
Ryan Statement on Iraq Withdrawal Bill
WASHINGTON - First District Congressman Paul Ryan last night voted against H.R. 4156, a supplemental spending bill which sets (and advertises to the enemy) an arbitrary troop withdrawal timeline - requiring the President, within 30 days of this bill's enactment, to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq with the goal of transitioning to a "limited presence" by December 15, 2008. The House passed the measure by a vote of 218-203, and it awaits Senate consideration. The President has indicated he will veto this bill if it is presented to him.
The bill is the latest in a series of politically driven, and ultimately unsuccessful, votes to set specific withdrawal dates or otherwise take steps that limit U.S. commanders' ability to fight and prevail in the war in Iraq. It ties funding for our troops in Iraq to requirements for their withdrawal according to arbitrary timeframes, rather than relying on U.S. military leaders to make such strategic determinations based on conditions on the ground.
The legislation also seems to ignore the reality of recent security developments in Iraq, including reports that the U.S. military will be sending about 3,000 soldiers home from Diyala province in Iraq by January - the "second large unit to leave Iraq as troop levels are cut after a 30,000-strong surge'" according to Reuters. In addition, the Associated Press reported earlier this week from Baghdad: "Rocket and mortar attacks have fallen to their lowest level in nearly two years. Civilian deaths have dropped sharply since summer. Shoppers are venturing out, even in Baghdad's most dangerous neighborhoods. Iraq's capital is by no means yet safe. But the trend toward better security is indisputable."
"Congress needs to pass a bill to fund our troops in Iraq without conditioning this funding on the adoption of arbitrary withdrawal timelines set by politicians. We all want our troops to return home as soon as possible and we are finally starting to see this happen, but our military commanders on the ground are best equipped to make decisions on how to do this safely - without jeopardizing the hard-won gains in security that we've witnessed in recent months. As I've said in the past, I also think it's counterproductive to give al Qaeda and our other enemies a specific timeframe stating when America must withdraw troops. This will just give them hope and help them plan future attacks. It also sends the wrong signal to the local Iraqis and tribal leaders who have been turning against al Qaeda in Iraq," Rep. Ryan said.