Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Feingold-Reid Bill To End War Formally Introduced

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), on behalf of cosponsor Harry Reid (D-NV) and many other Democratic supporters, went to the Senate floor yesterday and formally introduced the Feingold-Reid bill which, if George W. Bush vetoes the Iraq-withdrawal plan that will hit his desk in the coming weeks, will push the issue further by forcing a troop withdrawal by March of next year.

The bill would end funding specifically for the failed Iraq effort, forcing the president to redeploy American troops elsewhere where, according to Senator Feingold, they can actually begin to defend the country against terror threats.

“The President says he will veto legislation already passed by the Senate that both funds the troops and responds to Americans’ demands for an end to the Iraq war,” Feingold said. “Since the President refuses to change his failed Iraq policy, that responsibility falls on Congress. By setting a date after which funding for the President’s failed Iraq policy will end, we can give the President the time and funding he needs to safely redeploy our troops so we can refocus on the global terrorist networks that threaten the lives of Americans.”

And Feingold made clear on the Senate floor yesterday that Bush and the Republican Congress must understand that, by stranding U.S. forces in Iraq indefinitely, they are expressly defying the will of the American people.

"The President will not listen to the American people. It is up to this Congress -- newly elected by Americans fed up with the President's mishandling of Iraq -- to let the people's voices be heard," said Feingold on Tuesday. "And it is up to this Congress to end a war that is undermining our national security and draining precious resources from the global fight against al Qaeda and its allies. Last November, the American people voted to end the war. Now it is up to Congress to do the same."

The Wisconsin Senator also spoke about how Congress using its "power of the purse" to end military deployments is hardly a precedent-setting event, as Republicans would suggest.

Feingold points out that in October 1993, Congress enacted an amendment cutting off funding for military operations in Somalia effective March 31, 1994, with limited exceptions. He also made the embarrassing point that of the 76 Senators voting for that move during the Clinton administration, a large number of Republicans -- such as Senators Cochran, Domenici, Hutchison, Lugar, McConnell, Specter, Stevens and Warner -- voted affirmatively and those same people are now coming forward to call a similar Congressional move something outrageous, if not unpatriotic.

"Did those eight Senators, and the many Democratic Senators who joined them, act to jeopardize the safety and security of U.S. troops in Somalia?" asked Feingold. "By cutting off funds for a military mission, were they indifferent to the well-being of our brave men and women in uniform?"

Senate Majority Leader Reid has said that if Bush vetoes the emergency supplemental spending bill, he will work to ensure Feingold’s bill gets a vote in the Senate before Memorial Day.

In other Feingold-Reid news, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a guy who has long been known for standing up for Progressive causes and doing the right thing, agreed this week to cosponsor the war-ending legislation.

Here's our updated list of Senators on the record as saying they will ratchet the pressure
up a few more notches on Bush and Congressional Republicans if Bush vetoes the supplemental bill as expected:
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Chris Dodd (D-CT)
  • Russ Feingold (D-WI)
  • Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
  • John Kerry (D-MA)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Harry Reid (D-NV)
  • Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
"The President continues to insist that he has no intention of bringing this war to an end -- or even acknowledging when it might end. And, four years later, the American people are calling out in greater and greater numbers for an end to a misguided and open-ended military mission," said Feingold on Tuesday. "Most Americans recognize that it makes no sense to ask our troops to police an ongoing civil war. Nor does it make any sense to ask our troops to put down a Sunni insurgency, or to place them in the middle of 'Shia-on-Shia violence' or 'criminally motivated violence' in Iraq."

"Feingold-Reid also allows the President to bring our brave forces home with honor and without endangering them in any way. It is safe, it is responsible, and it is long overdue."