IRAQ WAR RESOLUTION
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. HARE. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from California. I rise today in strong support of this resolution.
Recently at a town hall meeting that I had, a man approached me, pulled out a picture of his son, said that he had just died in Iraq 6 months ago. His wife won't come out of the home. He said, ``I want you to promise me that when you go to Washington, you will do everything you can to make sure that this never happens to another family.'
Three days later, I called the family of Senior Airman Daniel Miller of Galesburg, Illinois, who lost their son to a roadside bomb explosion outside of Baghdad 2 weeks prior to when he was supposed to be coming home. I hope and pray I don't ever have to make another phone call to another grieving family. That is why I come to the floor this evening in strong opposition to the President's decision to deploy 21,500 additional troops in Iraq, and I strongly support this resolution.
The current situation in Iraq is grave, and it is rapidly deteriorating. The sectarian conflict is the principal challenge to stability in Iraq, and caught in the middle of this civil war are approximately 140,000 of our bravest troops. Over 3,000 troops have already lost their lives, while over 22,000 have been wounded.
Our current strategy has not made significant impact on reducing the violence. In fact, December 2006 was the third deadliest month since the war began. The cost of this war, both in the number of lives lost and the amount of dollars spent, has had a profound effect on Illinois and my congressional district. Out of the 3,128 deaths, 95 have been from Illinois, and eight soldiers from the 17th District.
But not only will an increase in troop levels not solve the fundamental cause of violence, it places us at a great disadvantage here at home. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the troop surge could require as many as 48,000 troops and as much as $27 billion, which is five times the amount of the President's request of $5.6 billion. Also the U.S. military will be forced to deploy many combat units for their second, third, and even fourth deployments in Iraq, and extend the redeployment of others.
Currently as we sit in debate on this resolution, 16,000 single mothers are serving in Iraq. This troop surge would only extend the time their children are left at home alone, with their mother or their father.
Since the military is already short thousands of vehicles, armor kits and other protective equipment, a troop surge threatens the readiness of our forces. In fact, if you saw the paper recently, a soldier was quoted saying he had to go to the junkyards to dig up pieces of rusted scrap missile and ballistic glass so they could armor the vehicles and make them combat ready.
While only a first step, this resolution is a good start. It does not give up on our troops or declare defeat in Iraq, but offers a new forward direction towards a nonpartisan goal of bringing our troops home safely, quickly, and securing stability in the region.
Already, this Democratic-led Congress has had 52 oversight hearings on various issues related to this war, and many of my colleagues have introduced several bipartisan measures that promote political and diplomatic engagements.
A person this evening said, Where do we go from here? I would strongly suggest that this administration try something it hasn't tried yet: diplomacy. It can work. You just have to have the courage to try.
In the coming weeks, I am hopeful that Congress will consider a comprehensive measure such as H.R. 787, the Iraq War De-escalation Act, of which I am a cosponsor. In addition to requiring the responsible redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq and allowing basic force protection, it launches a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic initiative. I am thoroughly convinced that the only way we will attain peace in this region, in Iraq, is through diplomatic initiatives.
This legislation also makes the Iraqi Government responsible for their own destiny by establishing benchmarks concerning Iraqi military readiness to police their own country without United States assistance.
Finally, as a veteran myself, I also hope as we move forward we will adequately prepare for the return of thousands of new veterans. Our number one priority should be to fully fund the cost of veterans health care and PTSD benefits.
This administration's budget calls for cutting prosthetics by $2 million and severely cuts funds to the VA at a time when it is proposing an increase in troop levels. Without full funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, our veterans are left without the services they were promised when they pledged to defend this Nation.
Madam Speaker, I strongly urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this resolution as the first of many steps towards bringing our troops home and securing our success in Iraq. As I told the gentleman at my town meeting, I promised him I would do everything I could so this would never happen again. That journey begins this evening
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT