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Pelosi: Iraq Legislation Will Bring Our Troops Home Responsibly, Honorably, Safely, and Soon

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor tonight in support of the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act, which passed by a vote of 218 to 203:

 

'Mr. Speaker, on Monday, America honored our veterans, something that we do every day in our hearts, but which we openly celebrate on that day.  I'm very proud that this year we could celebrate also the biggest increase in veterans' benefits in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration, thanks to the New Direction Congress. 

 

'Yesterday, the President of the United States signed the Defense Appropriations bill with the biggest increase in defense spending made necessary because we must rebuild the capacity for our troops, which has been weakened by the war in Iraq.  And today we bring before the Congress New Direction legislation regarding the orderly and responsible redeployment of our troops out of Iraq. 

 

'This legislation is necessary because whatever you may have thought about the war, or the conduct of the war, or the origin of the war, whatever you may think about the performance of the Iraqi government there, and I have my views on that subject, the fact is we can no longer militarily sustain the deployment in Iraq. 

 

'Staying there in the manner we are there is no longer an option.  Our troops have performed their duties magnificently, excellently, patriotically, and courageously.  We owe them the deepest gratitude for their courage, their patriotism, and the sacrifices that they and their families are willing to make.  But even as they try to create and have their military successes, God bless them for that, the secure framework which was established to enable the Iraqi government to make the political change necessary to end the civil war, the sacrifice of our troops was simply not met by the actions of the Iraqi government. 

 

'How much longer should we expect our young people to risk their lives, their limbs, their families, for an Iraqi government that is not willing to step up to the plate?  This legislation offers something fundamentally different from what President Bush is proposing, a 10-year war, a war without end, costing trillions of dollars at the expense of our military readiness.  In fact, it offers something different from what this House has done before.  Indeed, it provides the tools to our troops so that they can get their jobs done with the greatest respect for that job.  But it also presents a strategy that will bring them home responsibly, honorably, safely, and soon. 

 

'The legislation is different because it ties the funding to a strategy for redeployment.  It is different because the funding provided is for the short term so we can measure the Administration's plan, if there is such a plan, to redeploy the troops on the schedule established in this bill. 

 

'We do have a military crisis not seen since Vietnam.  Equipment is wearing out and needs to be replaced.  Our troops are only being trained for counterinsurgency in Iraq instead of a wider training for full range of missions that they may be called on to perform.  The deployment schedule of the Bush Administration is wearing down our forces, plain and simple.  The distinguished chairman of the Armed Services Committee has made this readiness issue the cornerstone of his opposition to this war in Iraq.  The distinguished Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has told us over and over again that this deployment in Iraq cannot be sustained without weakening our national security, without diminishing the capacity of our armed services to meet challenges to our national security wherever they may occur.  As such, this readiness crisis poses a great threat to America's national security. 

 

'Yet under the President's plan, and this was expressed by the representatives of his Administration on more than one occasion, it would bring 30,000 troops, the number of troops that were sent in for the surge, would be redeployed back to the U.S. by July 2008.  So let's understand this.  That means that by July 2008, we will have the same number of troops in Iraq as we had in November 2006, when the American people called for a New Direction in Iraq.  Again, we cannot afford the President's commitment in Iraq.  It traps us, and in that trap we cannot address our readiness crisis. 

 

'This deployment, in addition to our military capacity, to protect the American people, is also unsustainable financially.  According to the recent report by the Joint Economic Committee, this war could end up costing American taxpayers $3 trillion.  Think of the opportunity cost of that money in our readiness in the strength of our country, in our reputation in the world. 

 

'We must act now to provide a New Direction, because it is clear that the President has turned a blind eye to all of this.  If this legislation is enacted into law, and if this policy is pursued, we can resume our rightful place in the world.  We can refocus our attention on the real war on terrorism and we can make the American people safer by rebuilding and restoring the readiness and the capacity of our military to protect the American people wherever our interests are threatened. 

 

'All of us stand here and take an oath of office by pledging to protect and defend the Constitution.  In the Preamble, it states that to provide for the common defense is one of our first responsibilities.  Unless we do that, protect the American people, nothing else is possible.  So let us support this legislation, which helps us honor our oath of office to defend the American people and to respect the sacrifice, the courage, the patriotism of our troops to make us the home of the brave and the land of the free.  I urge a yes vote on this important legislation.'