Senate Democrats

Reid: Bipartisan Consensus Emerging To Change Course In Iraq

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada made the following statement this morning on the floor of the U.S. Senate:

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a new Iraq Supplemental bill.

Now it is our turn in the Senate to take the next step and pass our version of the bill to conference. 

We all know that reaching consensus on a new bill to send to the President will not be easy.

We all know that passions run high on this issue. 

But there is new reason this week to believe that a bipartisan consensus on Iraq is emerging.

Throughout these talks with the White House and our Republican colleagues in Congress, Democrats have stood with firm resolve that we need a bill that both fully funds our troops and responsibly changes course in the war.

That is what the American people want.  A new poll out this week shows that 75 percent of Americans favor benchmarks and 60 percent favor a timetable for reducing combat forces.

It is what President Bush’s own military advisors say we need, including General Petraeus, who has said that this war must be won politically, not militarily.

Now, in just the last few days, we have seen our Republican colleagues tell the President that his war strategy is failing.

Over the weekend, House Minority Leader John Boehner said: “By the time we get to September or October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn’t, what’s Plan B.”

This week my colleague Senator Lott said: “This fall we have to see some significant changes on the ground.”

And just days ago, Leader McConnell echoed those sentiments as well.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday a broad coalition of Republican House Members expressed their dissent directly to President.

One of them – Republican Tom Davis of Virginia – called it their chance to confront a President who, as he put it, is in a bubble.

I wish that my Republican colleagues – who now agree that President Bush’s open-ended commitment has failed – would put some teeth behind their views.

With courageous American troops in harm’s way every day, the time for action is long past due.

Nonetheless, this is a welcome shift.  It is encouraging. 

It gives me hope that in the coming days, weeks and months, we will be able to work together with good faith and bipartisanship to give our troops and all Americans the new course that they demand and deserve.