Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate:
“Today we turn again to Senator Feingold’s amendment. I have cosponsored this amendment in the past, and do so again today. The Feingold/Reid amendment is another chance for us to show real leadership by forging a responsible and binding path out of Iraq.
“The amendment now before us puts into binding national policy a strategy that Democrats and some Republicans have advocated for months – a strategy that is the best path for the United States and for the people of Iraq. This legislation changes our fundamental mission away from policing a civil war – reduces our large combat footprint – and focuses on those missions which are in the U.S. national security interests.
“It exercises Congress’s Constitutional powers to limit funding after June 1 of next year – well into the sixth year of the war – to counter-terrorism, force protection, and the targeted training of Iraqi forces. The Feingold/Reid Amendment recognizes that we have strong interests in Iraq and the Middle East, but it does not permit the open-ended role of US forces in a civil war to continue.
“Nearly all experts agree that six years after our country was attacked on 9/11, the President’s preoccupation with Iraq has not made America any more secure. Afghanistan is under attack from the Taliban, with drug cultivation and trafficking at the highest level in years. Pakistan’s tribal border areas have become an increasingly alarming safe haven where Bin Laden and a new generation of Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists remain free to plot terrorist attacks. And as we all know, Iraq is mired in civil war, with no political reconciliation in site.
“It’s long past time for meaningless resolutions and minor policy tweaks. We need a major change of course in Iraq – one that responsibly brings our troops home, rebuilds the readiness of our military, and returns our focus to fighting a real war on terror against Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network. I urge my colleagues to support this responsible and long-overdue legislation. It’s time to chart a course out of Iraq and return our focus to the real and growing threats we face throughout the world.
“Yesterday the House of Representatives passed the Tanner bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. This legislation would require the President to provide Congress with reports within 60 days on the Administration’s plans for drawing the war to a close. A number of our colleagues have called this a step in the right direction.
“We know that the Administration failed from the very beginning and repeatedly thereafter to adequately plan for the war in Iraq. We know that the President took us to war without a plan for peace. And ever since, his Administration has resisted any attempt to examine his failures or to consider broad changes to our strategy in Iraq.
“The White House has stubbornly refused to take on all the detailed planning that those changes would require. There is no sign that this short-sighted administering of the war will end. If Congress does not act, the Administration is bound to repeat the same mistakes all over again – finishing the Iraq war as irresponsibly as they began it.
“The Administration should be planning for the end of the war and the redeployment of our troops, and Congress should expect this to be made available for our oversight and examination. Some of my colleagues would like to see the Senate take up the legislation that passed the House yesterday. It is certainly within their rights to pursue that. The legislation is perfectly sensible. But whether this legislation is taken up by the Senate or not, it is no replacement for our central mission: to fight for real, enforceable new war policy.
“More reports and oversight are necessary and important, but they are no substitute for a real course change. Real change is represented by the Levin/Reed Amendment the Senate recently considered. Real change is represented by the Feingold/Reid Amendment before us today. I urge my colleagues to support Feingold/Reid and stand on the side of the major change to Iraq policy that our troops and all Americans demand and deserve.”