MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE -- (House of Representatives - June 15, 2006)
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Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to express my concerns over the Bush administration's mismanagement of the war in Iraq.
First and foremost, I am disappointed that the President still refuses to put forward a strategy for a successful transition in Iraq and a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops.
Almost 2,500 of America's military personnel have lost their lives in this conflict, and thousands more of our troops have been injured and disabled. Among the most recent casualties was a young man from my district and hometown of Rialto, California. U.S. Army Spc. Luis Daniel Santos was just 20 years old and due to come home to his loving family--his parents Irma and Carlos and siblings Carlos Jr., Amy and Eric--next week. Luis was engaged to his sweetheart from Fontana High School and was looking forward to a family barbeque his mother was preparing for him. Tragically, he was killed one week ago in a roadside bombing while maneuvering his Humvee in combat.
I offer my condolences to the Santos family and join in mourning the death of this patriotic young man.
Military families especially, and Americans generally, understand the sacrifice that service entails and the dangers involved. And we are united in supporting our troops and honoring their sacrifice.
However, the American public has lost confidence in President Bush's leadership. The President has chosen to risk the lives of our Armed Forces without providing a coherent exit strategy, a realistic timetable, or the equipment required to complete the mission.
The American people want--and our military forces deserve--a clear plan for completing the Iraq transition and bringing our troops home!
As if the loss of life weren't overwhelming enough, the war in Iraq has cost American taxpayers more than 300 billion dollars. Americans have other needs and priorities, and 300 billion dollars could help solve some of the challenges we have here at home. That same money could have paid for 5 million additional teachers in our schools, or 14 million four-year college scholarships, or 2.5 million new affordable housing units across the country. Think about how much money that is and how much of a difference it could have made for working families like those I represent in San Bernardino County, California.
So I reiterate my call for the Bush administration to plan for an orderly withdrawal of American forces in Iraq. We must begin to transfer security responsibilities to the Iraqi people and allow the international community to step in and help.
Our brave men and women in the Armed Forces have sacrificed enough. They have completed their mission and accomplished what was needed. Their families have waited for them long enough. Now it is time to bring our troops home.
Mr. Speaker, American forces are at great risk as they remain in Iraq without a clear objective. Their mission was to be a liberating force, not an occupation force. We cannot allow our troops to become targets of resentment and terrorism while the administration tries to figure out a plan.
American forces in Iraq have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Their heroism and compassion in the most trying of circumstances require us to act in their best interest. Despite inadequate equipment, despite shifting priorities, despite sweltering heat, our military has delivered time and again. The recent success in removing the threat posed by terrorist al-Zarqawi is a testament to their tenacity and grit in the field.
But the President must not take their commitment for granted and cannot expect them to serve indefinitely. Military forces in Iraq already are serving longer and longer deployments and a high percentage of returning troops are falling prey to mental health disorders and financial difficulty. We need a real solution, Mr. Speaker.
I stand with my Democratic colleagues in asking the President to provide a real solution for peace and security in Iraq and ask my colleagues in Congress to recommit themselves to providing adequate funding for our Armed Forces, both at home and abroad, and our veterans.
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