Friday, January 19, 2007

Biden, Hagel and Levin On Anti-Surge Resolution

Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) did a bit of true bipartisan speaking on Wednesday, sharing time on the Senate floor to introduce S. Con. Res. 2, expressing the sense of the Senate that George W. Bush must not escalate the war in Iraq.

"Last week, when Secretary of State Rice presented the President's plan to escalate our troop presence in Iraq to the Foreign Relations Committee, the reaction from Democrats and Republicans alike ranged from profound skepticism to outright opposition," said Biden. "This resolution says what we and many of our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, are against: deepening America's military involvement in Iraq by escalating our troop presence."

"I believe that when a President goes way off course on something as important as Iraq, the single most effective way to get him to change course is to demonstrate that his policy has waning or no support--from both parties," Biden continued. "This resolution will demonstrate that, right now, the support is not there for the President's policy in Iraq. The sooner he recognizes that reality and acts on it, the better off all of us will be."

Senator Hagel, a Vietnam war Veteran who has been against Bush's Iraq policy for two years, spoke next and spelled out just how important he believes this moment is for Congress and the American people.

"We have before us one of the most important issues that has ever faced our country, certainly in modern times. The future of Iraq will affect the United States, the Middle East, and the world for decades to come," said the Nebraska Republican. "I know of no challenge that is greater today, before this country, than Iraq. When a Nation commits its men and women to war, it is the greatest challenge that any of us will ever deal with in our time in the Congress."

"Some of us believe that the course that the President announced Wednesday was not the appropriate course. I do not believe that the United States should be sending more American troops into the middle of the tribal, sectarian civil war that is occurring in Iraq," Hagel said.

Levin, Michigan's senior Senator and another resolution co-author, then talked about the illusion the White House continues to spin that the ongoing violence can be stopped by more U.S. troops on the ground.

"The resolution would send a clear message that Congress does not support the plan to increase the number of U.S. troops in Iraq because it is based on the false premise that there is a military solution to the violence and instability in Iraq, when what is needed is a political solution among the Iraqi leaders and factions," said Levin, adding that passage of the resolution would "…send a powerful message to the President and the Iraqis that Congress does not support an escalation of our military presence in Iraq."

Biden tied a nice bow around the whole thing, making it clear that this is a gut-check for all Senators and that we should all remember where they stood on this issue.

Said Biden: "This resolution will give every Senator a chance to say where he or she stands on the President's plan."