On March 23, 2007, the House passed the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act by a vote of 218 to 212. This bill will support our troops and veterans, hold the Bush Administration and Iraqi government accountable and bring our soldiers home by August 2008 or sooner.
The Act will:
Expand funding for veterans' health care and hospitals
- The bill provides funding so the Veterans Administration can meet the obligations of a new generation of veterans.
- Bush Administration must meet military standards for troop readiness
- The bill fully supports our troops and ensures they have the tools and resources they need to do the job they have been asked to do.
- The legislation prohibits the deployment of troops who are not “fully mission capable” as defined by the Department of Defense - in other words, troops who are fully trained, equipped and protected. This a reaffirmation of current Department of Defense standards.
- The President can only deploy “unprepared troops” if he certifies, in writing, to Congress, that deploying those troops is in the national interest.
Iraqi government must meet Bush benchmarks for reform
- The bill requires the Iraqi government to meet the key security, political and economic benchmarks established by the President in his January 10 address.
- The Iraqis failure to meet these benchmarks will mean the beginning of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and will restrict economic aid to the Iraqis.
Strategic redeployment of U.S. combat troops by 2008
- If progress toward meeting key benchmarks is not made by July 1, 2007, a redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq begins immediately and must be completed within 180 days.
- If key benchmarks are not met by October 1, 2007, a redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq begins immediately and must be completed within 180 days.
- If key benchmarks are met by October 1, 2007, a redeployment of U.S. troops must begin by no later than March 1, 2008, and be completed within 180 days.
- Following redeployment, U.S. troops remaining in Iraq may only be used for diplomatic protection, counterterrorism operations, and training of Iraqi Security Forces.
Refocus military efforts on Afghanistan and fighting terrorism
- Al Qaeda is reconstituting, and the Taliban has grown stronger in Afghanistan.
- The bill significantly increases funding to defeat al Qaeda and terrorists in Afghanistan.