Washington, D.C.—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the floor of the U.S. Senate:
“There are three steps we must take to end this tragic war: Transition the U.S. mission away from policing an Iraqi civil war, reduce U.S. combat forces, and launch a comprehensive diplomatic effort in the region. The Levin-Reed amendment accomplishes those three goals. It tracks the ISG recommendations, and perhaps most importantly, if passed, it is binding.
“I appreciate that Senator Salazar and others put the ISG recommendations into legislative form. But this amendment as it stands is merely a suggestion for President Bush – and the President has proved beyond any doubt that he won’t listen to the Congress or the American people unless he is forced to. If you give this President a choice, he will stay hunkered down in Iraq for years to come.
“Levin-Reed gives the President no choice. It requires him to take the steps to responsibly end the war that the country and our brave men and women in uniform demand and deserve. The Levin-Reed amendment:
- Sets a firm start and end date to transition the mission and begin the reduction of U.S. forces – beginning 120 days after enactment and completed by March 30th;
- Limits the U.S. mission to limited counter-terror, training and force protection operations after March 30th;
- Requires that the reduction in forces be part of a comprehensive diplomatic, regional, political and economic effort.
“The votes we have taken on Iraq thus far make two things very clear: First, the Democratic caucus is united in our commitment to changing course. Our resolve has never been stronger. Second, until and unless the President awakens to his grievous misjudgments, it will take significant Republican support to end the war.
“This week’s vote on the Webb amendment was not encouraging. The Republican leadership blocked an up-or-down vote on an amendment to support our troops by increasing rest time between deployments.
“Republicans have every right to vote against bills and amendments they oppose. If they oppose troop readiness, let them go on record voting against it. But to block an amendment like that shows clearly that some Republicans are protecting the President rather than protecting our troops.
“Plenty of Republicans are talking the right way on Iraq now. They are expressing their disapproval for the President’s policy, and this is a welcome step.
“But speeches won’t end the war, votes will. When we turn to the Levin-Reed amendment next week, I hope that all of my colleagues – Democrat and Republican alike – will embrace this opportunity to finally end a war that has caused our country so much harm.”