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U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, And Iraq Accountability Act, 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. TROOP READINESS, VETERANS' HEALTH, AND IRAQ ACCOUNTABILITY ACT, 2007 -- (House of Representatives - March 23, 2007)


Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Thank you to the gentleman from Wisconsin.

Mr. Speaker, there are 435 Members of Congress, and I know there are many people on the other side of the aisle who don't know who I am. I am PATRICK MURPHY, and I am from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Back home, my wife and my daughter Maggie are watching, probably on C-SPAN right now.

Over 13 years ago, I wore the United States Army uniform for the first time. I was able to live the American dream. I was able to rise through the ranks and become a captain and a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. We had a saying in the Army: Lead, follow or get out of the way.

Well, in the past 4 years, the Republican-led Congress followed. They had their chance, and they followed lockstep as this President led our country into an open-ended commitment refereeing a religious civil war.

For the last 4 years, this Republican Congress followed lockstep as my fellow soldiers continued to die in Iraq without a clear mission, without benchmarks to determine success, without a clear timeline for coming home. In the last 4 years, the Republican Congress followed this President as thousands of brave American soldiers returned home in coffins with our American flag. Nineteen of those coffins had soldiers that I served with in Iraq, 19 paratroopers.

Mr. Speaker, with this bill, with this vote, we mark the end of that error.

Many of the 49 new freshmen, both Democrats and Republicans, were elected a few months ago on the promise of new leadership, and that is what this bill does. It leads our way out of Iraq. It leads the way to rebuild our overextended Army, and leads the way to win the war on terror.

To those on the other side of the aisle who are opposed, I want to ask you the same questions that my gunner asked me when I was leading a convoy up and down Ambush Alley one day. He said, ``Sir, what are we doing over here? What's our mission? When are these Iraqis going to come off the sidelines and stand up for their own country?''

So to my colleagues across the aisle, your taunts about supporting our troops ring hollow if you are still unable to answer those questions now 4 years later.

Mr. Speaker, to vote ``no'' on this bill is to stand idly by, to let our commitment to Iraq remain open-ended and to let countless more American soldiers be killed in the sands of al-Anbar and the streets of Baghdad.

Short-term political peril may sidestep those who cast their vote for the status quo, but our children's history books will not treat them kindly, nor should they.

Mr. Speaker, the 110th Congress will be judged whether we have the political courage to put forth a plan to restore accountability and oversight, to bring our troops home from Iraq and, most importantly, to win the war on terror.

This is our opportunity. This is our chance to lead. For too long, the American people have been craving leadership, craving accountability and craving a new direction in Iraq. Let's give that to them today.


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