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U.S. Troop Readiness, Veteran's Health, and Iraq Accountability Act

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. JORDAN. Mr. Speaker, I stand in opposition to H.R. 1591, a measure that would set dangerous and unprecedented timelines for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States of America, killing thousands of innocent people in a horrific fashion and forever changing America's role in the fight against global terrorism.

Just days later, President Bush and leaders of this Congress together affirmed America's commitment to leading a global war on terrorism. Our goals are to bring those responsible for 9/11 to justice while working to prevent future acts of terrorism.

Since then, the bravery of our troops, the courage of our leaders, and most importantly the vigilance of the American people have helped prevent further attacks on American soil.

Our strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists is working. Our continued efforts in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom are making a real difference, both there and here at home. We are moving closer to the day when the Iraqi army and police force will be adequately prepared to take full control of their country.

What day will they be prepared to do so? Our military commanders might have a good idea. Leaders of the Iraqi military might know. Neither have set a date certain--neither have published a time line for withdrawal, because they understand the danger in doing so.

As a Member of Congress, I do not know the exact day this withdrawal should happen. In short, I believe it should be on the day when we have achieved our objective. As a Congressman, I expect continued, measurable progress toward that day--and, like every American, I hope that day is soon. But it is too early to tell what day that is; if telling emboldened our enemy and put our troops in harm's way, I wouldn't tell.

Yet according to the measure before us today, a majority of my colleagues apparently believe they know the exact day. They've picked a day when--whether the job is finished or not--we will pack up and go home.

This is bad public policy, it is bad military strategy, and it cuts the very legs out from under the soldiers who have so bravely fought the battles to keep America safe. The road to this day has been long, sometimes difficult, but largely successful. If we remain committed to leading the fight to keep the American people safe from terrorism, then we owe it to our military commanders to help them finish their job without arbitrary and capricious intervention from politicians.

Mr. Speaker, the timelines for troop withdrawal are not the only bad idea in this legislation. Woven into a bill that is designed to fund our military is more than $20 billion in non-emergency spending on such items as peanut storage and spinach farmers.

Millions of Americans wake up and go to work each morning to provide for their families and help make America a better place. As the saying goes, they work hard, play by the rules, and pay their taxes.

These are the families I keep in mind each time I cast a vote on public policy.

This measure contains hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars being diverted from national defense to pork-barrel spending to benefit the pet projects of certain interests.

Like many Americans, I am outraged by the reports that Democrat leaders are promising this and additional pork-barrel spending in exchange for Democrat votes for this measure.

Each of these dollars came from taxpayers, and taxpayers deserve better.

Mr. Speaker, there are good things in this bill, like funding for our troops in battle, improved health care for our soldiers and veterans--things I am proud to support.

However, when weighing the good and bad in this measure, the pro-family, pro-troop, pro-American vote is easy to identify. That vote, in this case, is "no," and I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing the measure.

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