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U. S. Troops Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, less than 2 weeks ago, a bipartisan majority of Senators put aside disagreements over the war in Iraq and agreed on at least one thing and that one thing was that announcing a surrender date for our troops is certainly not in our national interest.

It is wrong by the troops who have been risking their lives to bring stability and order throughout Baghdad and Iraq. Certainly, they do not want to tell the enemy they intend to run up the white flag 365 days from today. Setting a date for withdrawal is akin to sending a memo to our enemies to rest, refit, and replan until the day we leave. It is a memo to our friends, too, telling them we plan to walk away and leave them on their own, regardless of what we leave behind. We know as well as they do that we can expect the following: a Sunni minority exposed to the whims of the Shia majority, ethnic cleansing, and regional instability the consequences of which are painful to contemplate but easy to predict.

It is wrong by the commanders in the field, who have been sent into battle with a mission to fulfill and who know better than we do how to carry out that mission.

It is wrong by the Iraqis themselves, who have risked their lives and fortunes on the strength of a promise that the United States of America would stand with them and see this struggle through until the end.

We voted against setting a surrender date, despite intense political pressure because common sense tells us that politicians in Washington don't tell the commanders on the battlefield when the fight is won.

Common sense told us something else a few months ago. It told us we had to change course, and that is exactly what we have done. We realized the only way we would win this fight would be to secure the city of Baghdad, the seat of the Iraqi Government, and home to a quarter of its population. We implemented a strategy to do it.

Some have said there is no military, only a political solution to ending the violence in Iraq. But we can't pretend the Iraqis will forge a political solution unless they are secure in their homes and on their streets. That is the key to the Petraeus strategy and to our efforts in Baghdad.

We have been pursuing that new course for the last few months. A Democratic-controlled Senate sent a new commander into the field of battle to carry it out. We have seen early signs of success, enough to believe this new approach was exactly the right thing to do.

Now Congress is being asked to fund it. I agree this is also the right thing to do. We are not about to pull the rug out from under our soldiers in the field just as they begin to carry out the mission we have sent them on. We are going to give them everything they need, and we are not going to slip a deadline now into their security package.

The Constitution gives those who oppose this war a clear and concrete way of expressing their views, and that is to vote against funding it. Attempting to have it both ways--by slipping a withdrawal date into this bill and making the support of our troops contingent on a dangerous and defeatist surrender date--was wrong a week and a half ago and it is wrong now.

It is also dangerous. President Bush has repeatedly said he will veto a bill that includes a surrender date. He said it again this morning. He said this spending bill, in its current form, assumes and enforces the failure of the new strategy even before American commanders are able to implement their plans and he will veto it if it reaches his desk.

I urge my colleagues not to take us down this path, not to delay the delivery of emergency funding to our troops by forcing a Presidential veto. There is no need. Nothing has changed since the majority of us voted against this very same timeline the week before last.

Stripping the withdrawal date will not prevent anyone in this Chamber
from expressing his or her views on Iraq. Its only effect would be to delay the delivery of much needed funding and equipment to our soldiers in the field. I strongly urge my colleagues to strike this dangerous provision and support the Cochran amendment.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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