CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008--Continued -- (Senate - December 18, 2007)
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Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I support this amendment, and I commend my friend and colleague Senator Feingold. It is wrong, basically and fundamentally, to give another blank check to President Bush for his failed Iraq policy. I support our troops, but I oppose our war.
We have heard here in the last few minutes and in the last few hours the rather rosy picture about what is happening over in Iraq. I think everybody in this Chamber salutes the brave men and women for their courage, bravery, and valor over the last 5 years. This war has been going on for 5 years. We do know there has been some progress made in recent times on the military aspect. But as every member of the Armed Services Committee understands, everyone who has had a responsibility in Iraq who appeared before the committee has said there are two dimensions for finally getting peace in Iraq: One is military, and one is political reconciliation. That has not taken place.
Day after day after day after day, our men and women are on the streets of Baghdad and around Iraq, and more American servicemen have lost their lives this year than in any other year of the Iraq war, make no mistake about it. As we can see, these brave men and women in Baghdad, and all over, are still being targeted in Iraq. They are basically being held hostage by the Iraqi political establishment. American military personnel, American service men and women are being held hostage by Iraq's political leadership, which refuses to come together and reconcile their differences and form a government.
Every day that goes on, the American taxpayers' money is being poured into the sands of Iraq, because Iraqi politicians refuse reconciliation and political judgments in Iraq. That is what is going on over there today. That was going on yesterday, and it has been going on for 5 years.
What the other side says is let's give this administration and this President a blank check to continue it. How long do they want it for? When is enough enough? That is what they are asking for. That is what they are asking for. For 5 long years, these brave men and women in the Armed Services have done what they have been asked to do, and the best way you can honor them is to get the policy right, get the policy correct.
That is what the Feingold amendment does. How? Very simple. It says: OK, Mr. Iraqi politician, you have had your chance, your day; now you have to take responsibility for your own country. The way you are going to do that is that we are going to start bringing American service men and women home. They have been unwilling to take the political decisions up until now. The other side says pour more money in here and lose more American lives.
The Feingold amendment is a changed policy. It says we believe that with the judgment and decision we are going to take to American servicemen, then they will make the judgment and decision that is in the interest of this country. Their way hasn't worked. This way will. Why not give it a try and a chance?
What are some of the American military personnel saying over there? BG John Campbell, deputy commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq, spoke bluntly about the faults of Iraq's political leaders. He said:
The ministers, they don't get out ..... They don't know what the hell is going on on the ground.
This is the brigadier general, the deputy commander, talking about the Iraqi political leaders, and you want to give them a blank check? Well, those of us who support the Feingold amendment say no.
Army LTC Mark Fetter put it this way:
``It is very painful, very painful'' to deal with the obstructionism of Iraqi officials.
There it is. How much clearer does it have to get? How much more of a blank check do you need? How many more billions of dollars do you have to spend--let alone that we will never recover the 81 brave men and women from Massachusetts who lost their lives. That cannot be recovered.
Think of this: For every month that goes on in that battle over in Iraq, we could have 250,000 more schoolteachers who are experts in math and science teaching our young people. For every month that goes on, just think that every child who needs after school help and assistance would be able to receive it in the United States of America. Just think, for every month this goes on, we could provide Head Start for every young person who needs it. Just think of this: If we could have the resources for 2 years, we could rebuild and repair every public school in this country that is in need. Doesn't that matter? Well, it matters to this Senator, and it matters to those who are supporting the Feingold amendment.
It is wrong to neglect priorities such as these at home and pour hundreds of billions of dollars into the black hole that the Iraq war has become. It is wrong to give the President another huge blank check for the war in Iraq. Enough is enough.
I urge my colleagues to take a strong stand and vote against this gigantic blank check for more war.
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