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Pelosi Floor Statement on Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today in support of H.R. 2956, the Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act, which the House approved this evening by a vote of 223 to 201. 

Below are her remarks:

'I thank the gentleman for yielding and I want to express the appreciation of so many in this Congress and this country for his tremendous leadership.  For 30 years, Ike Skelton has been a great champion for our men and women in uniform - for the quality of their lives and their families as they serve our country; for their readiness as they prepare to go to war; for their well-being as they fight for our country, for an appreciation of the sacrifice that they are willing to make, they and their families are willing to make. 

'And thank you for giving us this opportunity today to speak on behalf of the American people.  To take a step to end this war in Iraq and to have a vision of a strategic plan for stability in the Middle East.  Your bill is excellent and your timing, Mr. Skelton, is perfect, because today the Bush Administration released the progress report on Iraq benchmarks required by the Supplemental Appropriations bill Congress passed in May.

'The report makes clear that not even the White House can conclude that there has been significant progress on the war on the resolution benchmarks.  This is hardly a surprise given what is publicly available each day in the media.

'Truck bombs killing scores of people in the markets.  The supposedly secure Green Zone is rocked by a 30-minute mortar and rocket barrage.  Despite 30,000 additional American troops to increase security, Iraqi leaders are urging their people to arm themselves for their own protection. 

'Legislation to make the Iraqi political process more inclusive is stalled in the Iraqi legislature.  And the cost of the war in precious lives and wounded American heroes continues to rise.  Since the surge began, we have lost nearly 600 American troops. 

'The benchmarks that are being reported on today were endorsed by President Bush and the government of Iraq to measure political reconciliation and the promotion of security in Iraq.  In the fifth year of the war, the President's strategy has failed to meet those key benchmarks.  President Bush continues to urge patience, but what is needed and what the American people are demanding is a new direction. 

'Remaining bogged down in a sectarian civil war in Iraq continues an unacceptable strain on our military and serves as an effective recruiting tool for al-Qaeda.  Reports about the resilience of al-Qaeda in Iraq are alarming. But assessments that the global al-Qaeda network is reconstituting its capabilities describes a far greater threat.  The war is not making our military stronger to protect our interests, the American people safer, or the Middle East more secure.  It prevents a refocusing of our efforts on the real war on terrorism in places like Afghanistan.  And it hinders the development of a New Direction strategy for greater stability in the Middle East.

'As General Batiste has said, 'Iraq is distracting America from what should be the focus of main effort.  It is in America's best interest to rethink our national strategy, deliberately disengage from Iraq, refit and rearm our military, get serious about homeland security, and prepare to win the next phase of the struggle against worldwide extremism.' 

'The American people see the danger in clinging to an untenable situation in Iraq.  That is why by large margins they favor a redeployment of our troops.  Passage of Chairman Skelton's bipartisan bill will reflect the will of the American people and reaffirm the judgment of the House.  That the redeployment of our troops is a central element in an effective way forward in Iraq. 

'We will repeat that judgment legislatively as often as necessary, hopefully with an increasing level of support from our Republican colleagues, until pressure from the American people causes the President to change his mind and his policies.

'To those who urge that we wait until September, I say that it has been four and a half years and half a trillion dollars, at least -- we have already waited too long.  The troops in their third and fourth tours in Iraq, those who have been grievously wounded, and the families of those who have died deserve far better. 

'After more than 3,600 lives have been lost to a flawed strategy, we have a responsibility to create a new direction.

'After spending $329 million every day on the war in Iraq, on a war that is not making our country safer, we have an obligation to change course.

'After five years of a failed policy in Iraq, we have a duty not just to voice our opposition, but to vote to end the war.

'Chairman Skelton's bipartisan bill offers a step we can take today toward bringing the troops home.  To creating a strategic vision for stability in the Middle East, and for beginning to rearm our military.

'Let us pass this bill and those that will follow in the coming weeks and provide the new direction on Iraq that the American people demand and that is so urgently needed.

'I urge a yes vote on the Skelton bill.'