Pelosi: Bush and His Republican Allies Are Preventing Extra Funds from Reaching Our Troops

Washington, D.C. — Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today in response to President Bush's remarks this afternoon at the Pentagon:

“Earlier this month, Congress approved nearly a half trillion dollars for the Department of Defense. Just two weeks ago, House Democrats passed $50 billion in additional funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have provided every penny that is currently necessary to fund Defense Department operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. It is President Bush and his Republican allies in the Senate who are preventing extra funds from reaching our troops.

“The President opposes the House bill because it requires our troops to be fully trained and fully equipped before they are deployed, establishes a goal of December 2008 for the completion of the redeployment of our forces from Iraq, and prohibits torture as an interrogation technique for the U.S. government.

“Rather than explain to the American people why he objects to those provisions, the President and Republican Senators have prevented the Senate from even considering the bill. Today at the Pentagon, the President spoke of the need for Congress to work together to ensure that our troops and their families have the support they need. In that spirit, I call upon the President to instruct Senate Republicans to stop blocking consideration of the House funding bill. It is their obstruction that is producing the uncertainty for our troops and their families that the President voiced concern about today.

“The President also spoke of the need to modernize our military. The single biggest obstacle to improving our military capabilities is the war in Iraq, which has plunged military readiness to levels not seen since the Vietnam War. Reducing the number of American troops in Iraq as called for in the House funding bill is essential if the military readiness crisis is to be resolved.

“Our brave men and women in uniform have done everything that has been asked of them in Iraq and Afghanistan. Democrats are committed to providing them everything they need to do their jobs and to care for their families.”

President Bush's Iraq War & the U.S. Military Readiness Crisis

Today at the Pentagon, President Bush spoke of the need to modernize our military but failed to mention it is his misplaced priorities and failed policies in Iraq have led to a military readiness crisis that the United States has not experienced since the end of the Vietnam War more than thirty years ago.

Since the beginning of the Iraq war, the readiness of our forces — active duty and reserve — has plummeted.

· When President Bush was inaugurated, in January 2001, all active duty Army divisions were rated at the highest readiness levels.

· Today, not a single active duty or reserve brigade in the U.S. is considered “fully combat ready.” Our strategic reserve of forces has eroded to dangerous levels.

· All of the Army's available active duty combat brigades have served at least one 12-month tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Not since the end of the Vietnam War has our Army ground forces readiness been at these crisis levels.

· The majority of our active duty Army units at home are critically short of equipment and personnel.

· In order to prepare units for an Iraq deployment, equipment and personnel are cobbled together — called “cross-leveling” — from other units across the country, further degrading our military readiness.

· Ultimately, under-manned, under-equipped, or under-trained units are more likely to experience higher casualty and accident rates in war.

Democrats have led the fight to ensure our military is properly trained, adequately equipped and given time at home equal to their time in war.

· The House and Senate recently passed, and the President signed into law, a $459 billion Defense Appropriations Bill that fully funds home-station training, equipment maintenance, and other key military readiness programs.

· In the May 2007 War Funding Supplemental, Democrats added $2 billion, not requested by the President's request, to improve the readiness of units here at home and rebuild our strategic readiness reserve, including the National Guard.

· Sixteen months ago, Chairmen David Obey and John Murtha wrote a letter to the President asking him to submit an emergency supplemental request to address the military's readiness crisis. At their behest, Congress added $20 billion to the 2007 bridge fund.

In November, House Democrats again fought for a New Direction in Iraq by passing a funding bill that provides our troops with $50 billion and a strategy that brings them home — because that is the best way to improve military readiness.