Washington, DC—Democratic Senators and Congressmen joined 40 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans today to discuss Democrats’ ongoing efforts toward a strategy that protects our troops, supports our veterans when they return home and keeps America safer while finding a political solution in Iraq.
“President Bush has pushed America’s military to the limit,” Senator Dick Durbin said. “By forcing current troop levels until he leaves office, the President fails to acknowledge that lengthy deployments in a war without a strategic plan is not only unrealistic but unfair to our soldiers and their families.”
Said Senator Charles Schumer: “Despite the President’s military surge and the valiant efforts of American soldiers, Iraq’s central government is weaker than ever, undermined by warring factions who have shown little interest in working together to bring a stable and peaceful government to their country. Without political reconciliation between the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, peace cannot be brought to the country no matter how many troops there are. We should be doing all we can to change the course in Iraq.”
“Our troops are stretched thin, their equipment is deteriorating, and the patience of our nation is waning,” Senator Patty Murray said. “My colleagues and I are committed to changing the mission in Iraq, giving our troops more time at home, and taking care of our troops when they come home. But we need Republicans to join us. Many have begun to talk the talk. Now they have a chance to walk the walk.”
Said Senator Bernie Sanders: “All across the country there are veterans and their families who, as a result of their service to the nation, are experiencing health problems or financial problems. As a nation, we owe it to them to provide them the health care and benefits they have earned. The good news is that the Congress is making great strides in the effort to keep faith with our veterans.” On Iraq, he added, “it is not acceptable that the Bush administration still has no exit strategy.”
“It’s an outrage that the President and the Secretary of Defense are talking about vetoing what their own generals recommend,” Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher said. “Secretary Gates says this is about ‘force management.’ I think good management is a military that is rested and ready as opposed to over-stretched and strained. My legislation does this by making sure our troops are getting enough time to rest and retrain between deployments.”
Said Jon Soltz, an Iraq veteran and the Chairman and Co-Founder of Vote Vets: “The President and his supporters continue to present no plan for Iraq. What the President has presented will not move Iraqis towards national reconciliation, or allow us to begin our overextended troops home, to refit and rearm and take the fight to al Qaeda. His plan is nothing but politics, trying to run down the clock and offer some political cover to vulnerable members of his party. This is not supporting the troops, and it is certainly not protecting America.”