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Pelosi: Vote on Iraq Accountability Bill This Week Is a Chance to Bring the War to an End

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening on the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq and the debate this week on the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.  Below are her remarks as prepared:

'Mr. Speaker, as the war in Iraq enters its fifth year, we must take time to reflect on those who have made the greatest sacrifices because of this war - our troops.  We all salute them because of their courage, their patriotism, and the sacrifice they are willing to make.  They have done everything asked of them and we are forever in their debt.

'That debt extends to their families, who have also made sacrifices.  The missed family events - births of children, deaths of loved ones, graduations, anniversaries, birthdays - are losses which cannot be replaced.  We owe to these families a renewed commitment to support them in whatever way that may be required, and to make sure our troops have everything they need to do their job and come home safely and soon.

'To those who have been wounded, our nation has promised to care for you as you have protected us.  This is a solemn promise, and it will be honored. 

'The debt which can never be repaid is to those whose lives have been lost in the war, and as a nation, we mourn them.  Their absence is felt each day, each and every one of them, but on this day in particular, their sacrifice should be remembered in a special way and I, therefore, salute our colleague, Congressman Patrick Murphy, for leading us in a moment of silence.

'Mr. Speaker, four years ago today, our nation launched a war of choice in Iraq.  The war has claimed the lives of nearly 3,200 American troops; and wounded tens of thousands more - some of them permanently.

'Any U.S. military engagement must be judged by three criteria: does it make our country safer, our military stronger, and the region more stable?  The war in Iraq has failed on all three counts.

'In fact, the Administration's policy in Iraq has diminished the security of our nation by reducing our military's readiness to the lowest levels since Vietnam. It has failed to hold Iraqis accountable for the future of their own country, and it has dishonored our commitment to our veterans.  It has cost billions of dollars and significantly damaged our reputation in the eyes of the world.

'When our young men and women are placed in danger, we owe it to them to provide them with the best training and equipment possible, and a strategy worthy of their sacrifice. 

'As the generals have told us over and over again, it cannot be won solely militarily.  Instead, we must leverage all our political, economic, and diplomatic strengths.

'Again and again, Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic Leader, and I, have urged President Bush to adopt a plan for Iraq containing the following elements: transition the mission from combat to training; responsibly redeploy our troops; build consensus for political accommodation in Iraq; encourage a robust diplomatic effort, primarily involving Iraq's neighbors.  We must then reform and reinvigorate the reconstruction effort; and refocus on the real war on terror - the war in Afghanistan.

'Later this week we will debate a plan to bring the war to an end.  The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act will rebuild our military, protect our troops, provide for our veterans, and hold the Iraqi government accountable. 

'The benchmarks for the Iraqi government set forth in this bill are the benchmarks endorsed by President Bush on January 10.  They are: improvements in the performance of the Iraqi security forces; a greater commitment by the Iraqi government to national reconciliation; and reductions in the levels of sectarian violence in Iraq.

'After four years of war, it is reasonable to expect these benchmarks to be met this year.

'I welcome the debate over this bill and the opportunity it provides for Members of Congress to express themselves on what the greatest ethical challenge facing our country.

'Mr. Speaker, this is a historic week for the House.  I hope that it produces a result worthy of the sacrifices of those we honor today.'