Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“As Senators Obama, Reed and Hagel travel through Iraq today, there is one conclusion that they will doubtlessly all reach: Our troops – still more than 140,000 strong – have done a remarkable, heroic job under nearly impossible circumstances. Because of their valor and sacrifice, a war that was irresponsibly planned and incompetently waged by President Bush has now shown some signs of improvement.
“Neither Democrats nor Republicans can take any credit for that. Every ounce of credit goes to our men and women in uniform, and we are grateful to them beyond words. It would be impossible to fully repay our troops for the sacrifice they and their families have made.
“But this Congress took a historic step forward by passing the new GI Bill of Rights – the largest expansion of veterans’ benefits since the original GI Bill after World War II.
“As Senator Obama visits Iraq to listen to our troops and commanders and meet with Iraqi leaders, it is becoming clear that America, Iraq and the world are coalescing around Senator Obama’s plan to end the war.
“The Democratic plan sets a responsible timeline for redeploying American combat brigades; transitions the responsibility for securing Iraq to the Iraqis; restores America’s military readiness; and finally takes the fight to America’s No. 1 enemy, Osama Bin Laden.
“This weekend, Prime Minister Al-Maliki spoke in favor of the Obama plan. Today, despite pressure from the White House, Iraqi government officials publicly reiterated their support.
“The American people have known for years that our national security interests require us to carefully bring our troops home and call on the Iraqi people to take the reigns of their own sovereign nation. The vast majority of Iraqis are eager for the day to come when they control their own destiny. They are ready for the war to responsibly draw to a close.
“Even President Bush – who bears the primary responsibility for this incompetently managed war – is now belatedly and gradually moving toward some elements of key Democratic positions – on Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. The President has labeled his new position for Iraq a ‘time horizon.’ No one knows yet what a ‘time horizon’ actually means, and it is clear that President Bush has no plans to draw down the war before he packs his bags in January.
“This critical national security decision will fall to the next President. While it is becoming increasingly clear that the American people and Iraqi leaders strongly support the Democratic plan to bring our troops home, Senator McCain is stubbornly clinging to his open-ended commitment to endless war.
“Senator McCain has called upon Senator Obama to listen to our troops and commanders in Iraq. Senator Obama is doing just that – and it’s clearer than ever that his position was right from the start.
“Now it’s time for Senator McCain to listen to the American people. If he does, he will discover a nation desperate for a responsible path out of Iraq. If Senator McCain fails to join the chorus of calls for a responsible path out of Iraq, the choice in November will be very clear.”