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Limiting Use of Funds to Establish Any Military Installation or Base in Iraq

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. PELOSI. I want to thank the gentleman for yielding and to acknowledge the exceptional leadership of my colleagues from California, Congresswoman BARBARA LEE and Congresswoman LYNN WOOLSEY, for their leadership on this issue, and Congresswoman BARBARA LEE's authorship of this legislation. Congresswoman BARBARA LEE, Congresswoman LYNN WOOLSEY, Congressman TOM ALLEN, Congressman DAVID PRICE, Congresswoman MAXINE WATERS have all been important in the leadership of bringing this legislation to the floor and continuing our debate on the involvement in Iraq.

The legislation is timely and a key part of our strategy for a new direction in Iraq. Thank you all.

I am very pleased to join our distinguished colleagues on the minority in support of this legislation. Yes, I have had the privilege of working with Mr. Rohrabacher, with Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen and others, Mr. Wolf and Mr. Smith, over the years on issues that relate to human rights throughout the world. I respect them for their leadership in so many arenas. It has been a privilege to work with them. I am so glad they are supporting this legislation today.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important for us to measure any initiative in relationship to the war in Iraq against the backdrop of what does this do to contribute to a vision for stability in the Middle East, whether we are talking about no permanent bases, whether we are talking about redeploying our troops out of Iraq, a change of mission there, to leave troops only for specific limited purposes. This is what the generals have told us. General Odom, for one, has said any vision for stability in the Middle East must begin with the redeployment of troops out of Iraq. So, too, this issue today, no permanent bases.

Yes, our colleagues are correct that this has been brought before the Congress before and has been passed into law, but the fact is that it may not have been heard adequately by the administration and certainly not by the people in the region.

This legislation clearly signals that the United States does not seek a permanent military presence in Iraq. This action is necessary to clarify confusing and contradictory statements from the administration regarding our Nation's long-term strategic relationship with Iraq.

In its final report, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended that the United States clearly state that our Nation does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq or to control Iraq's oil. It did so to help shape ``a positive climate for ..... diplomatic efforts,'' which are essential to ending the U.S. presence in Iraq and bringing greater stability to the Middle East.

While the administration has previously indicated it would not seek permanent bases in Iraq, recent statements raise contrary questions. Administration officials have remarked that the President envisioned a continued military presence in Iraq similar to our presence in Korea, where U.S. forces have been stationed for more than 50 years.

The American people have made it clear in the election that they want a new direction in Iraq that brings the troops home. The Iraqi people and regional powers must also be reassured that the United States does not seek to exploit Iraq either by building permanent military facilities there or by exercising control over its oil. We can make that statement by passing this legislation overwhelmingly today as part of our strategy for a new direction in Iraq and for stability in the Middle East.

The President's remarks in South Carolina yesterday were really saddening. Just when you think you have seen it all, just when you think you have heard it all, the President mentioned al Qaeda nearly 100 times to justify his course of action in Iraq. Let us remove all doubt. This Congress, every single person here, is committed to fight the war on terror, but let us not misrepresent what the troops in Iraq are doing.

Everyone who examines the situation with the knowledge says we do not belong in a civil war in Iraq. So, again, the President's statements give great cause for grave concern. They crystallized why the Congress must continue to pressure the administration to change course in Iraq. Yet again, President Bush mischaracterized the facts on the ground in Iraq and the latest intelligence on the real threat of international terrorism.

Just yesterday news reports were that the administration plans a continued substantial troop presence in Iraq through the summer of 2009; heaven knows, beyond then.

As the latest National Intelligence Estimate reveals, the war in Iraq has not made America safer or turned the tide against terrorism. In fact, while we have been tied down in Iraq, al Qaeda has been regenerated, has regenerated its ability to attack the United States while enjoying safe haven in vital areas of our ally in the war on terrorism, Pakistan.

The President's Iraq policy is unacceptable to the American people, and to Democrats in Congress, because it has allowed al Qaeda to regain its footing, reinforce its numbers, and refocus on another spectacular and deadly attack on the United States. That is why we must change direction in Iraq and do it now before it is too late.

America cannot afford another 2 years of war in Iraq. We have already lost more than 3,600 brave Americans to this bloody conflict. There can be no discussion of the situation in Iraq without pausing to remember and acknowledge the sacrifice, the courage and the patriotism of our men and
women in uniform and their families who have sacrificed so much for our country. We thank them, we honor them, and we think they deserve better than no plan for a redeployment of troops out of Iraq.

We have lost 4 years that could have been spent bolstering Homeland Security, strengthening counterterrorism efforts, and focusing all of the resources at our disposal on combating the terrorist threat. Today's vote can again make clear to the President, and to the administration, to the American people, to the people in the Middle East, to the people in Iraq that the American people are opposed to a permanent military presence in Iraq.

The American people are demanding a new direction. The Democratic Congress will go on record every day, if necessary, to register a judgment in opposition to the course of action that the President is taking in Iraq. The Democratic Congress will go on record every day, if necessary, to fight for a redeployment of our forces as a central element of a new direction strategy for Iraq.

I urge my colleagues to vote in overwhelming numbers for this important legislation.

Again, I thank our colleagues, Congresswoman BARBARA LEE, Congresswoman LYNN WOOLSEY, Congressman TOM ALLEN, Congresswoman MAXINE WATERS, and Congressman DAVID PRICE and all the others who played such an important role in bringing this legislation to the floor.

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