Senators Comment On Beginning Of Real Iraq Debate
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
"Last November, the American people demanded a new direction at home and abroad. That is what today's debate is about. Democrats have been pushing for this debate for months because we understand this is the most important issue facing the country.
"President Bush has signaled that his plan for Iraq is to commit our men and women to policing an open ended civil war. Democrats disagree and are unified behind holding the President accountable for a new direction in Iraq.
"And Senate Republicans? To this date they have offered no plan other than to endorse the President's flawed policies. America cannot stay in Iraq forever. Iraqis must begin to take responsibility for their own future. We know there is no purely military solution in Iraq, and that American troops should not be policing a civil war. That's why Democrats will fight to transition the mission and redeploy our troops."
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
“Only days away from the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war’s start, the Senate has finally taken a step toward changing the direction of our failed policy. But as lawmakers and bureaucrats continue their debate, our brave young soldiers remain in the crosshairs of a raging civil war.
“The American people demanded change when they voted in the midterm elections and it is time for Congress to act. Continuing down the same failed path is not in our national interest, and it is not in the interest of our troops.”
John Kerry (D-MA)
“With each day, this Administration becomes more detached from the reality of what is happening in Iraq. This new ‘surge’ is just a second helping of the same old dish. There’s a word for this kind creeping escalation: Vietnam. This is exactly the kind of steady escalation that got tens of thousands of American soldiers killed for a policy that could not work.
"Yet still the Administration hides behind the rhetoric that dares to claim those who offer a new way forward are ‘undermining’ our troops. It is incomprehensible that an Administration that has so badly mistreated the brave men and women of our armed forces – from sending them into combat without adequate protection to providing a shameful lack of care when they return – would accuse anyone of undermining the troops.
“It’s time for this Senate to do what this Administration has stubbornly refused to do – to recognize that the best way to support the troops is to change a course that squanders their lives, dishonors their sacrifice, and does a disservice to our people and our principles.”
Jon Tester (D-MT)
"For months I've said our troops deserve an open and honest debate about the direction of the war in Iraq. Today's action is a good first step. For too long the Senate has debated whether to debate the course of the war. Now we have a chance to do what Montanans sent me to Washington to do. Our country can no longer afford to wait."
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
"As long as the President's policies continue, our troops will continue to put their lives on the line, our constituents will continue putting billions of their dollars into this war, our military readiness will continue to erode, our Guard and Reserve members will continue to face heavy burdens, and our ability to respond to an array of national security challenges will continue to suffer.
"From Somalia to Afghanistan to the ongoing fight against al Qaeda, we face threats and challenges that require serious attention and resources. Right now, far too much of both are being spent on a single country. It is this single-minded and self-defeating policy that needs to end, and it is up to Congress to do so.
"Time and again, the President has made it clear that nothing – not the wishes of the American people, not the advice of military and foreign policy experts, not the concerns of members of both parties – will dissuade him from pursuing policies in Iraq that are not working. Faced with a clear mandate from the voters last November, he stalled for time, before announcing not just a continuation but an escalation of his policies. Congress cannot wait for the President to change course – we need to change the course ourselves."
Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
“This is a defining moment for our country. The American people are watching. The world is watching. The issue is clear. Will we stand with our soldiers by changing their mission and beginning to bring them home? Or will we stand with the President and keep our soldiers trapped in Iraq’s civil war?
"A year ago, on the third anniversary of the war, Vice President Cheney went on national television and said, 'I would not look to Ted Kennedy for guidance and leadership on how we ought to manage national security.'
"Well, the American people certainly know that we cannot look to the Vice President and this Administration about national security.
"The Administration has been consistently wrong about the war in Iraq.
"Year after year, they insist on a dangerously incompetent strategy.
"They were wrong about the link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. They were wrong about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. They were wrong about America being greeted as liberators.
"They were wrong about the insurgency being in its last throes. And they are wrong to deny that Iraq is in a civil war.
"The American people are far ahead of the Administration. For all of us who oppose this misguided war, our goals have always been clear: to protect the lives of our soldiers and to protect our national security.
"We have an obligation to stand up for our troops and stand up to our President when he stubbornly refuses to change course in Iraq."
Joe Biden (D-DE)
"Iraq dominates our national agenda. Americans want us to debate the war, they want us to vote on it and most of all they want us to figure out how to end it responsibly without leaving chaos behind. There's a fundamental disconnect between where the American people are and where the President is on this war.
"I will continue pounding away at this every day to get the President to change his policy in Iraq. Eventually, the President and the minority in Congress who don't want to change course will catch up with the American people."
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
"As the Iraq Study Group and even some of President Bush's own military advisors have said, the Administration cannot end the violence in Iraq by simply increasing our military presence. It will take an escalation in American diplomacy, not an escalation in American troops.
"Senate Republicans must stop using procedural roadblocks and allow this resolution to be debated and come to a final vote. Every U.S. Senator has a responsibility to make his or her position on the war known to the American people."