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Pelosi: 'This Legislation Clearly Signals That U.S. Does Not Seek a Permanent Military Presence in Iraq'

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this morning expressing her strong support for H.R. 2929, the No Permanent Bases in Iraq  Below are her remarks:

On Democratic Opposition to the war in Iraq:

'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 the central element of a New Direction strategy for Iraq.'

'Mr. Speaker, I want to you 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.

'The legislation is timely and a key part of our strategy for a New Direction in Iraq.  I'm very pleased to join our distinguished colleagues in the minority in support of this legislation.  Yes, I have had the privilege of working with Dana Rohrabacher, with ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and others, Frank Wolf and Chris Smith, over the years on issues that relate to human rights throughout the world, and I respect them for their leadership in so many arenas, It has been a privilege to work with them and I'm so glad they are supporting this legislation today. 

'Mr. Speaker, I think it's 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're talking about no permanent bases, whether we're talking about redeploying our troops out of Iraq, change of mission there, to lead troops only to specific, to 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. 

'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.

'Mr. Speaker, 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 in here, is committed the fight the war on terror.  But let us not misrepresent what the troops in Iraq are doing.  Everyone who examines the situation with knowledge says we do not belong in a civil war in Iraq.  So again, the President's statements are great cause for great concern. 

'And 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 Islamist terrorism.  And just yesterday, news reports indicate 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 'regenerated' its ability to attack the United States while enjoying safe haven in 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.  This is why we must change direction in Iraq, and do it now, before it is too late.

'Mr. Speaker, America cannot afford another two 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 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 redeployment of the troops out of Iraq.  We have lost four years that could have been spent bolstering homeland security, strengthening counterterrorism efforts, and focusing all of the resources at our disposal on combating the global terrorist threat.

'Today's vote can again make clear to the President, 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 the central element of a New Direction strategy for Iraq.

'I urge my colleagues to vote in overwhelming numbers for this important legislation, and again, I thank our colleagues, Congresswoman Lee, Congresswoman Woolsey, Congressman Allen, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressman David Price, and all the others who played such an important role in bringing this legislation to the floor.'