Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada sent the following letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, encouraging him and his caucus to stop blocking up-or-down votes on bipartisan amendments to change course in Iraq:
July 17, 2007
Senator Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator McConnell:
There are no more solemn decisions facing members of Congress than the conduct of war and the placing of our troops in harm’s way. As you know, more than 3,600 brave Americans have lost their lives and more than $400 billion has been expended on the war in Iraq, which has now moved into its fifth year with no end in sight. Yet Senate Republicans have chosen to prevent honest debate and action on legislation to provide an Iraq strategy that would allow us to responsibly redeploy our troops and refocus our attention on the very real threat posed by Al Qaeda. This is partisan obstruction that I fear will make us less, not more, secure and I urge you to reconsider your course.
Today’s headlines confirm the importance of allowing the Senate to consider amendments to change course in Iraq and refocus our resources so we can more effectively wage the war on terror. These news reports indicate the violence in northern Iraq has escalated at the same time the Director of National Intelligence released a new assessment that al Qaeda has “regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability.” As long as our troops are mired in policing an Iraqi civil war, they cannot focus on the enemy that attacked this nation nearly six years ago; an enemy that has regrettably regenerated its attack capacity since 9/11.
Furthermore, contrary to your previous assertions, there is a long bipartisan tradition of allowing Senators to offer defense-related amendments on the Defense Authorization bill without the obstruction Senate Republicans are employing today. The record also clearly shows that both Senate Democrats and Republicans have recently foregone the opportunity to block action on important Iraq-related provisions. For example, just last year, the Senate voted up or down on two Iraq-related amendments on the Defense Authorization bill. Additionally, Senate Democrats did not place a 60-vote hurdle in front of a Republican amendment to strike Iraq policy language in the Iraq Supplemental Spending bill. Nor did votes on final passage of the Iraq supplemental require sixty votes.
Therefore, I renew the proposal I offered to you yesterday to permit the Senate to act on a series of amendments pertaining to Iraq. Under my proposal, the Senate would hold up or down votes on the bipartisan amendments offered by (1) Senators Levin and Reed, (2) Lugar and Warner, (3) Salazar and Alexander, and (4) Nelson and Collins. There may well be other amendments that Republican and Democratic Senators wish to offer related to Iraq, and I would be willing to work with you to ensure these amendments also receive up or down votes.
For the sake of our troops and the American people, I hope you reconsider your decision to obstruct Senate action on critical amendments that could change course the course of the war in Iraq.