On May 1, 2007, the President vetoed the Iraq Accountability Act, which supported our troops, honored the sacrifices of our veterans, and held the Iraqis accountable. It had the support of a majority in the Congress and the support of the American people. We hoped the President would treat this crucial legislation that would wind down this war with the respect it deserved. Instead, the President vetoed the bill outright, calling for a continued blank check for his failed policies in Iraq. Despite the President's veto, Democrats are committed to finding a new direction in Iraq to bring our brave servicemen and women home safe and soon. And we will not give the President a blank check. We will not support an open-ended commitment to a war without end. This Congress will work with the President to find common ground on a bill that supports our troops, restores accountability and winds down this war.
On May 10, 2007, the House passed HR 2206, a revised Iraq Accountability Act, 221-205. This proposal splits the bill vetoed by the President into two pieces.
- HR 2206 - A bill that includes the defense spending and other domestic spending from the vetoed bill. The bill fences $52.8 billion of the $95.5 billion provided to the Department of Defense until:
Reports: on or before July 13th, the President must submit to Congress reports on the progress the Iraqi government has made in meeting certain benchmarks and goals.
Votes: within 7 legislative days the Congress must vote on releasing the fenced off funds. There will be 2 votes - an amendment that would require the Department of Defense to use the fenced funds to redeploy troops from Iraq, and a vote on releasing the funds to the Pentagon.
- HR 2207- A bill that includes funding for the agricultural disasters package, wildfire suppression, Secure Rural Schools and Pacific Salmon as provided in the vetoed bill.
The bill includes benchmarks similar to those proposed by the President and included in the vetoed bill, and requires the President to report to Congress by July 13 on progress in meeting those benchmarks.
The President must report progress by the Government of Iraq in:
- Giving United States Armed Forces and Iraqi Security Forces the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias
- Delivering necessary Iraqi Security Forces for Baghdad and protecting such Forces from political interference
- Intensifying efforts to build balanced security forces throughout Iraq that provide even-handed security for all Iraqis
- Ensuring that Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces
- Eliminating militia control of local security
- Establishing a strong militia disarmament program
- Ensuring fair and just enforcement of laws
- Establishing political, media, economic, and service committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan
- Eradicating safe havens
- Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq
- Ensuring the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi Parliament are protected.
The President must also report on whether specified goals actually have been accomplished by the Government of Iraq, including:
- Enacting a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis
- Adopting legislation necessary for the conduct of provincial and local elections, taking steps to implement such legislation, and setting a schedule to conduct provincial and local elections
- Reforming current laws governing the de-Baathification process to allow for more equitable treatment of individuals affected by such laws
- Amending the Constitution of Iraq consistent with the principles contained in Article 137 of such constitution
- Allocating and beginning expenditure of $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis
After receiving the reports in July, both the House and Senate would vote on whether to release the remaining Defense funds. Expedited procedures are written into this bill to ensure that the subsequent vote takes place in both Houses by the end of July. These expedited procedures would be considered on the House floor in July in conjunction with the FY 2008 Defense appropriations bill.
- Those procedures would also guarantee a vote in the House on an amendment to provide that defense funding related to Iraq could only be used to plan and execute the redeployment of troops within 180 days of enactment. The only exceptions to this troop redeployment would be for troops protecting American diplomatic facilities and American citizens, including members of the U.S. armed forces; serving in roles consistent with customary diplomatic positions; engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach; or training and equipping members of the Iraqi Security Forces.
In addition, the bill:
- Requires the President to submit a monthly report accounting for the number of Iraqi security battalions at each level of combat proficiency
- Includes a sense of Congress provision that as battalions of the security forces of Iraq achieve the appropriate combat proficiency sufficient to conduct independent combat operations without support from Coalition forces in Iraq, units of the United States should be withdrawn
- Includes a prohibition on establishment of permanent bases in Iraq
- Includes a prohibition on torture
- Includes the Murtha troop readiness provisions
The bill also includes other priorities from the vetoed bill, including:
- $6.2 billion for international assistance (including food aid) for Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and others
- $1.7 billion for military construction related to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
- $1.8 billion for veterans' medical care
- $3.1 billion to fully fund Base Realignment and Closure
- $2.25 billion to improve homeland security
- $6.8 billion for Hurricane Katrina recovery
- $663 million for pandemic flu
- $400 million for LIHEAP
- $396 million to fund the short-term SCHIP fix
- Minimum wage and associated tax relief provisions
- Restrictions on the closure of Walter Reed