Senate Democrats

Reid: By Voting Against An Iraq Debate, Senate Republicans Vote In Favor Of Escalation

Washington, DCWith Senate Republicans preparing to endorse President Bush’s plan to escalate the war in Iraq by voting to block a debate on the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delivered the following speech this evening. The President’s plan is overwhelmingly opposed by the majority of the American people, and the American people have a right to know where every member of Congress stands on this issue. The text of Senator Reid’s remarks, as prepared, is below. Mr. President, earlier today, the Minority Leader said this vote is “about getting fair treatment for the minority here in the Senate.” He was half-right. This vote is about fairness, but not fairness to the Minority. This vote is about being fair to the 132,000 troops already in Iraq, by making sure they have the strategy they need to complete their mission, so they can come home. This vote is about being fair to the 48,000 American men and women who would be sent to Iraq, should President Bush be permitted to escalate this war. This vote is about being fair to the bipartisan majority of Senators who seek to voice their opposition to the President’s plan to escalate the war. This vote is about being fair to the American people and the millions of voters who chose a new direction last November. As Senators, we owe it to our troops and our people to have a real debate about the way forward in Iraq. For four years, this body has sat silent on the most pressing issue facing our country. As thousands of our soldiers were killed and tens of thousands wounded the Senate sat silent. As hundreds of billions of dollars were spent the Senate sat silent As Iraq fell into chaos and it became increasingly clear the President’s plan was flawed and failing, the Senate sat silent. As Senators and Americans, we cannot permit that silence to continue. The administration’s failures have dug us into a hole in Iraq, and we have an obligation to find a way out. Our troops most of all need our help – they need a policy that is as worthy as their heroic sacrifice. They need a legislative branch that will finally exercise its constitutional responsibilities. A no vote on the motion to proceed is green-light to George Bush to continue down the same failed course. A no vote is an endorsement of escalation. A no vote is a vote in support of this President continuing the same policy of failure in Iraq. We must heed the results of the November elections and the wishes of the American people. We must change course. That starts with this next vote. My side has offered the Minority everything they have asked for. We have been fair to them, now the Senate must be fair to our troops, their families, and the American people. We must proceed with a debate about Iraq and send a clear message to President Bush: escalation is not the answer.