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Pelosi Statement on Vote to Override Veto of Iraq Supplemental Bill

Washington, D.C. -Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor today supporting the override of President Bush's veto of the Iraq Supplemental bill. 

Below are her remarks:

'Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. 

'I thank the gentleman for yielding and I want to acknowledge the exceptional leadership of Chairman Obey, of Chairman Murtha, and Chairman Skelton for putting together this important piece of legislation.

'Yesterday, we sent it.  Congress passed this bill and yesterday we sent it to the President of the United States.  We did so with great pride, because it's a bill that supports our troops, honors our promises to our veterans, holds the Iraqi government accountable, and winds down this war. 

'It is a bill that honors the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.  Thank you, Chairmen Obey, Murtha, and Skelton. 

'The President had a historic opportunity, an opportunity to take yes for an answer, because the bill contained what the President had proposed.  The President proposed benchmarks, his very own benchmarks are contained in this bill. 

'The Department of Defense has guidelines for readiness for our troops, their training, their equipment, and the time they can spend at home and overseas.  They are in the bill, even with a waiver for the President, giving the President more latitude.  The President said no.

'I had hoped that the President would see the light instead of turning a tin ear to the wishes of the American people and a blind eye to what is happening on the ground in Iraq

'The President says that progress is being made in Iraq.  Well, I don't know what his definition of progress is, but sadly April was one of the deadliest months, one hundred of our troops killed there. 

'In his statement on vetoing the bill, the President said that he has vetoed this bill because, in his words, 'It made no sense.'  I repeat, the President said, 'it made no sense to tell the enemy when to start to plan withdrawing.'  In criticizing these timelines, of course, the President is wrong. 

'But when he was a candidate for President, it made sense to him to say to President Clinton: 'I think it's important for the President to lay out a timetable as to how long our troops will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.'  Candidate Bush.  This is on the war in Kosovo, where we did not lose one single American soldier.  This from a President whose initiative has lost more than 3,000 Americans and countless Iraqis. 

'Bipartisan Congressional majorities approved of using timelines for redeployment to instill urgency into benchmarks that have already again been endorsed by the President and the Iraqi leaders.  They've agreed to this, except they reject them in this bill.  A wide range of people have noted the value of timelines in persuading the Iraqis to make the political compromises needed to end the violence, including Secretary of Defense Gates, who said: 'The strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable probably have had a positive impact in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment.'

'The Congress will not support an open-ended commitment to a war without end.  The President says he wants a blank check.  The Congress will not give it to him.

'Next, the President said that Congress is substituting, our judgment for the judgments of the commanders in the field 6,000 miles away.  Wrong again, Mr. President.  We're substituting our judgment for your judgment 16 blocks down

Pennsylvania Avenue
in the White House.  We are substituting the judgment of this Congress for your failed judgment.  The American people have lost faith in the President's conduct of the war.  They have said that they want accountability and a new direction.  This bill gives them both. 

'Next the President claimed, and Mr. Obey again referenced it, that this bill is loaded with non-emergency spending.  Well, it may be a non-emergency to the President, but it certainly is an emergency to the people affected.  Once again, the President is wrong.  The needs of the survivors of Hurricane Katrina think it's an emergency, and so does any one person of conscience in our country who cares about the victims of Katrina.  That millions of children are about to lose their health insurance is an emergency for them and for our country.  America's farmers devastated by natural disasters think it's an emergency.  These situations remain emergencies because the President and the last Congress, the Republican Congress, refused to act, so now we must. So they have made it even more of an emergency.

'Today, the President faces the consequences of his own making.  This is the seventh supplemental for the war in Iraq.  Certainly, somebody was planning something at the White House and could have put, over the years, the funding necessary for this war into the budget.  Instead, the President did not do that.  I don't know why.  Maybe they don't want the American people to see the real cost of this war in dollars.  Certainly we know the price that we have paid more seriously in lives, in health, in reputation, in readiness of our military, and in probably $2 trillion now for this year.

'The President claims that this legislation 'infringes upon the powers vested in the Presidency by the Constitution.'  The President is wrong.  Congress is exercising its right as a co-equal branch of government to work cooperatively with the President to end this war. 

'By voting yes to override, Congress sends a strong message supporting our troops. They have done everything that has been asked of them and excellently.  They deserve better.  To rebuild our military, which has been seriously strained by this war in Iraq, to honor our commitment to our veterans, our heroes, and to demand accountability. 

'Passage of this bill then can refocus our energy on efforts against terrorism by bringing the war in Iraq to an end.  The President said, 'There are real enemies out there.'  Yes, we know that, Mr. President.  And we are prepared to make that fight.  We will do whatever is necessary to protect the American people. 

'The war on terrorism was in Afghanistan.  We took our fullest attention from Afghanistan to go into Iraq, and now Iraq is a magnet for terrorists.  The war in Iraq has made matters worse for the war on terrorism.  What we have to do is work together, Democrats and Republicans, with the President of the United States to bring stability to that region. 

'Now, we are into the fifth year of a failed policy.  This Administration should get a clue.  It's not working.  This is the fourth surge they have proposed.  When they proposed it in January, they said, 'In 60 to 90 days, we will know.'  It's 120 days and now they're saying September.  And then they say maybe by the end of the year.  So what is this?  We will be into another whole year of this war, far longer than World War II. 

'Nobody who serves in this body, who takes the oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, needs anybody to tell them, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, what our responsibility is to protect the American people. 

'Nobody needs a reminder of what the threat of terrorism is to our country.  But we do need to work together to keep our focus on where the war on terror really is.  If we clear up this matter, bring this war to an end in Iraq, we can give the war on terror our fullest attention. 

'Let us stop this war without end.  I urge a yes vote.

'Thank you, Mr. Speaker.'