Thursday, July 12, 2007

Democrats React To GOP Filibuster of Troop-Protection Bill

Here's a sampling of Senate Democrats reacting to Republicans blocking Senator Jim Webb's legislation, which would have mandated more recovery time for America's troops before the Bush administration ships them back to Iraq:

Jim Webb (D-VA)

"This ended up breaking down, for political reasons, into, for the most part, a resistance by the Republicans on an issue that we just shouldn't have had political implications.

"At the same time, we got a strong majority of the United States Senate to agree that this issue is vital to the well being of the people who are being sent into harm's way and we're going to continue to focus on this issue and others in the future.

"This was, on one level, a humane issue, an issue of military families, which has been well addressed by a number of people.

"It's also a leadership issue in terms of how the senior leadership would be willing to step up, senior military leadership would be willing to step up and defend the wellbeing of their troops in an environment where this occupation has gone on for so long, and it's also a practical issue in terms of how the military is being used."

Patty Murray (D-WA)

"Every one of us who goes home and watches our men and women go off to war has watched them over the last 4.5 years grow more exhausted and more tired and, importantly, their families, the stress and strain on their children, on their parents, on them as they just try to do what this country's asked them to do and serve our country.

"The amendment that Senator Webb put before the Senate today said that we, as representatives here in the United States Senate, are going to make sure that our troops are cared for. 24/7 they are fighting overseas. When they come home, they ought to be given 24/7 by all of us. They haven't done that yet.

"This is an incredibly important issue. All of us who supported this amendment are going to keep working, because certainly we owe the men and women who serve us a lot more than lip service. We owe them not standing behind procedural moves and motions in the United States Senate and we owe them a country that backs them and we are going to keep fighting."

Dick Durbin (D-IL)

"What just happened on the floor of the Senate is wrong. It was wrong that the Webb Hagel amendment did not pass. It was wrong that we didn't come to the aid of our warriors who are fatigued and exhausted by the redeployment after redeployment.

"It was wrong that we didn't stand by the military families who sit at home in anticipation, prayerful anticipation of the next phone call, the next e-mail. It was wrong that so many members of the Senate who boast about supporting our troops wouldn't stand for our troops when the Webb-Hagel amendment gave us a chance."

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

"This is not about whether or not this amendment can pass or did pass under the normal rules of the Senate. It's about whether or not the Senate Republican leadership is going to continue to use the rules to block what is the will of the majority of Americans and today, on this amendment, the majority of the Senators.

"This is about readiness. It's about giving them the downtime they need. It's about families. It's about putting our troops first who have given us the most in this war and we're going to continue until our troops and the American people are finally heard about what is happening."

Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

"I never thought that there would be a day in the United States Senate where I would be muzzled from speaking out and being able to vote on support for our troops.

"I never thought there would be a day in the United States Senate where a vote to support our troops would be bogged down in parliamentary entanglements.

"I never thought there would be a day when partisan politics would be so intense and prickly that the other party threw sand in the gears so that we could vote for a sensible amendment dealing with troop rotation offered by two combat veterans, Chuck Hagel and Jim Webb. Two combat veterans who know the stresses of war offered a sensible one for troop rotation, dealing with troop exhaustion and family fatigue.

"This is what this amendment was about -- the opportunity to provide a rotation schedule that would enable our troops to come back home, to rest, to refresh and to retrain to answer the call of duty.

"But, oh, no, we've got to play politics. We've got to talk about micromanagement. We have to get bogged down in constitutional debates.

"Every day I check the temperature in Baghdad. It was 115 degrees yesterday. Every day I check it because I try to envision what our troops are up against. In all of that heat, with 100 pounds of body armor, patrolling the streets of Baghdad and being in Afghanistan and various other provinces, and I think about them and I think about the stresses they're under, being shot at, facing IEDs.

"And I think of their spouses, I think of their mothers who are trying to cope with all that family stress, who are in acute traumatic stress. And I think about their children who, every time the news goes on and there's a bomb that goes off, they wonder if it's daddy or mommy.

"This is the ultimate support our troop amendment."

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

"Let's talk turkey about what just happened on the Senate floor. Except for a handful of Republicans, except for a handful, the Republicans in the United States Senate are desperately clinging to the status quo and this time they have gone too far.

"This bipartisan amendment, which said to America, 'We stand by our troops, we love our troops, we're going to make sure that they're rested and ready,' was brought down because of politics, because of an administration that gave the orders to the loyal followers."

Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

"There was a film on TV the other night describing the equipment shortages and how things are wearing out and how they indicated our troops are wearing out. They're fatigued. They need rejuvenation. They need family reunification. And it is a humane way to treat our troops, to show them that we really do care about them, other than politic speak.

"And so this is going to keep coming back and the result today was very interesting to me. Seven of our Republican friends voted with us and the rest were left squirming."

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

"This is the most disappointing vote in my first six months in the United States Senate. The president and almost three-fourths of Republican Senators have again betrayed our soldiers and our Marines and our veterans.

"It started back in 2003 when Senator Menendez were in the House voting against the war, but were in the House fighting for body armor for our troops. The administration and Republican leaders didn't get proper body armor to our troops then. They're not taking care of returning soldiers and Marines now. They've not taken care of veterans in our hospitals, in veterans health care in our communities."

Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

"Let me just say since I arrived here in the Senate about a year and a half ago, I have heard the refrain time and time again, 'Support our troops. Don't undermine them. Support our troops.'

"And the essence of the vote today was a vote to support our troops. That was what the vote was all about. And to preserve the very essence of our security.

"And today a Republican minority stopped the will of a majority of the United States Senate and, by virtue of that, a majority of the people of the United States who are living through the process through their families and neighbors of understanding the enormous wear and tear on the lives of the individuals who we call upon to protect the nation."

Jon Tester (D-MT)

"I can just tell you I've been here for a little over six months. This is an outrage.

"The fact that 56 Senators voted for this bill, voted for this amendment and the fact that it gets hung up in procedure is not why there's 100 Senators in the U.S. Senate doing the work that they need to do. And, quite honestly, it seems like when we come to important issues, where a majority of the Senators, and there's probably no more important issue than the Iraq war right now and troop readiness in that regard, and we get hung up with procedure because they want to delay the process.

"The truth is -- and I don't want to put words in Senator Webb's mouth or Chuck Hagel's mouth, but the president's mismanaged this war from the beginning and this amendment wouldn't have been here if troop readiness would have been considered from the commander in chief of this country.

"As I said before, this is an outrage. It's ridiculous. It's common sense. It should have been allowed to pass, which is what the majority of the people in the Senate wanted to have happen."