Senate Record - February 6, 2007
|Senate - February 6, 2007 - week 6|
|110th - United States Congress|
|Senate Majority Leader||Harry Reid|
|Minority Leader||Mitch McConnell|
|Previous||Monday - February 5, 2007|
These are consolidate excerpts from the Congressional Record, covering the major actions of the United States Senate in the 110th United States Congress on February 6, 2007. For the daily summary of the actions in the Senate click here. For a summary of the actions in the House click here, and for Congress as a whole on this date, click here.
Only major action or debates are usually included in these excerpts. For the complete Congressional Record for this date, click on the THOMAS link (i.e. the date within the title of the opening header) in the article below.
On the Floor
Morning Session - Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Harry Reid-D (NV), Majority Leader
Mr. Harry Reid-D, (NV) Majority Leader - Mr. President, today the Senate will be in morning business. During the period of morning business, the first 30 minutes will be controlled by the majority, with Senators Leahy', Mikulski, and Kennedy each controlling 10 minutes. The next 30 minutes will be controlled by the Republicans. Following that division, the remaining time until 12:30 will be equally divided and controlled between the minority and the majority.
The Senate will be in recess this Tuesday, today, for a longer period of time than normal, from 12:30 to 3:30. The recess is longer because we have a 2:30 p.m. briefing in room 407 on the National Intelligence report we just received.
Order of Procedure
I ask unanimous consent that the time from 3:30 to 6:30 today also be equally divided and controlled between the majority and minority.
The Acting President pro tempore - Is there objection?
Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mitch McConnell-R (KY), Minority Leader
Mr. Mitch McConnell-R, (KY) Minority Leader - Mr. President, at this time there is no more important issue facing our country than the mission and the fate of the American service men and women in Iraq. This means, of course, that the men and women of this body have no higher duty than to express ourselves openly and honestly on this issue--to take a stand on where we stand.
The only truly meaningful tool the Framers gave us to do this was our ability to fund or to not fund a war. That is it. And this is what Republicans are insisting upon: that the Members of this body express themselves on the question of whether to fund or not fund the war in Iraq.
By blocking a vote on the Gregg funding resolution, our good friends on the other side are blocking a vote on this most essential question--the only question that ultimately matters. Do we oppose this war to the point of action or do we simply want to make a point?
Our colleagues say they want progress in Iraq, but by blocking a vote on the McCain benchmarks resolution, they are blocking a vote that would actually set concrete goals.
So let's be very clear about what happened last night. Our colleagues on the other side do not want to vote on whether troops should be funded--period. There is no more critical question at this moment. We have the duty to take it up, and we will continue to fight for that right.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The majority leader is recognized.
Mr. Harry Reid-D, (NV) Majority Leader - The issue before the American people that relates to Iraq is the surge—the escalation of the war in Iraq. That is the debate that should be before this body, and last night that was prevented. An up-or-down vote on McCain, who is supporting the surge, or a vote in opposition to the surge, the escalation sponsored by Warner and Levin—that is the issue before this body today.
This is a diversion. This is a diversion. We finished the Super Bowl. This is a trick play by the Republicans. The real issue before this body is surge or no surge, escalation or no escalation. That is the debate the American people deserve.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from Vermont is recognized.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from Vermont is recognized for 10 minutes.
Mr. Leahy - I thank the distinguished Presiding Officer.
Patrick Leahy-D (VT)
Mr. Leahy-D, Vermont - I heard what the distinguished majority leader said. I agree with him. The Senate, as I have often said, should be the conscience of the Nation. There are only 100 of us to represent 300 million people. Americans expect us to speak up on the war. Americans expect us to vote on the war. Americans expect us to vote on the issue of the surge.
Now, I understand some Senators will support the surge, some will oppose it, but allow us to have those votes. Allow us to express the conscience of this Nation.
I ask unanimous consent that a column by E.J. Dionne entitled "The War To Save The Surge" from today's Washington Post be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
The War To Save the Surge
By E. J. Dionne, Jr.
When political opponents tell you that to prove your seriousness you need to pursue a strategy they know is doomed to failure, shouldn't you be skeptical of their advice?
As the Senate considers a resolution to put itself on record opposing President Bush's escalation of the Iraq war through a "surge" of troops, Bush's backers are saying one thing and doing another.
They are saying that the resolution is meaningless and that true opponents of the war should prove their sincerity by cutting off funding altogether. But they are doing all they can to keep the Senate from even voting on a bipartisan anti-surge resolution that would send a powerful message to Bush that most Americans have lost faith in his bungled war policy.
If you doubt that the war's supporters would love its opponents to put all their eggs in the fund-cutoff basket, consider what it means for them to sound as if the administration's only serious foes were the likes of Dennis Kucinich and Cindy Sheehan.
"I don't think these resolutions, nonbinding resolutions, are going to accomplish anything," Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and a Bush loyalist, told Gwen Ifill on PBS's "NewsHour" last week. "If we really had the courage of our convictions," Cornyn said, the "we" referring to the war's opponents, "if people said, 'You know what? This is an immoral task we've asked our troops to do because we don't believe in the mission, we think they're going to fail.' They ought to cut off funds. But to have this sort of—this debate without any real consequence, I just don't think is the best use of our time."
So Cornyn wants to block a vote on a supposedly unimportant anti-surge resolution, but he would be happy to entertain a debate on a funding cutoff. Does that not send a message to the war's critics?
And it's not just Cornyn. It is now a standard talking point for supporters of this war, from the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard to Vice President Cheney himself, to try to block any statement by Congress of its views, except through a vote to block funds for Iraq.
"The Congress has control over the purse strings," said Cheney, who on most other occasions insists upon the executive's supremacy over Congress. In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer last month, Cheney added: "They have the right, obviously, if they want to cut off funding, but in terms of this effort the president has made his decision. ...We'll continue to consult with the Congress. But the fact of the matter is, we need to get the job done."
In other words: Even if a substantial majority of Congress that includes many Republicans demonstrates a lack of confidence in the Bush-Cheney surge, the administration will feel free to ignore the other elected branch of our government--and the more recently elected branch (remember November, anyone?) at that.
Oh, and if an anti-surge resolution were trivial, why would William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and one of the war's most passionate advocates, devote a long and angry editorial in the latest issue of his magazine to attacking Sen. John Warner (Va.) and other Republicans as "ignominious" for their support of an anti-surge measure? Kristol knows that every Republican vote against escalation carries special weight in speeding this war to an end. So does the Senate's Republican leadership, which used a procedural vote yesterday evening to impede the majority's will on the surge.
Supporters of Bush's war policy would love a vote on a full funding cutoff right now because they know that, at this moment, they could win it. They would love responsibility for the failures in Iraq to fall not on an administration that planned its policy so badly and carried it out so incompetently. Far better for them to heap blame on the war's opponents for "losing faith."
And they know, as the war's opponents should, that in a democracy whose constitution accords so much power to the president, turning around even a failed war policy takes time, persuasion, organizing, legislative strategizing and pressure.
The impatience of the administration's critics is entirely understandable. But it would be a shame if impatience got in the way of a sensible long-term strategy to bring America's engagement in this war to as decent an end as possible as quickly as possible--even if not as quickly as they'd like. The anti-surge resolution is a necessary first step, which is why those who are against a genuine change in our Iraq policy are fighting so hard to stop it.
Mr. Leahy - Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from Maryland.
Barbara Mikulski-D (MD)
Mr. Mikulski-D, Maryland - Mr. President, to my colleagues, my constituents, and the American people, I rise today to absolutely say without any equivocation that I do support the Warner-Biden-Levin resolution on Iraq opposing the escalation of our troops. I also stand in the Senate to say: We were robbed! We were robbed of our ability to be able to vote on this resolution!
The American people, on November 7, sent a message to Congress and to the President of the United States: Change the tone in Washington, change the direction in Iraq, and change the priorities of this Nation. We, on this side of the aisle, got the message. The other side does not seem to have. This parliamentary maneuver to block a vote on the Warner-Biden-Levin resolution, to allow us to vote up or down on approving the escalation, shows that it is the same old tone. Please, let's give the process a chance.
Second, it also robs us of the ability to begin to express our vocal support for changing the direction.
This bipartisan resolution is a first step. It is not going to be the last word in bringing our troops home safely and swiftly. The Warner-Biden-Levin resolution affirms clearly and unequivocally a commitment to our men and women in uniform: Congress will not abandon you while you are in Iraq and when you come home. We stand by our troops. However, this resolution says "no" to the President's reckless plan to escalate troop presence in Iraq. The bipartisan resolution insists that the Iraqi Government stand up for its own people to provide security, services, and an agreement on oil revenue sharing.
I am not new to this position. I never wanted to go to war in the first place. I was 1 of the 23 who voted against this war on October 11, 2002—4 years ago. I will never forget it. I didn't believe the administration's arguments then, and I don't believe them now. I opposed giving the President unilateral authority to launch a preemptive attack. I said the United States had to exhaust its diplomatic options. I encouraged the administration to stick with the U.N., to let the U.N. meet its responsibility to deal with the Saddam threat. I said we should not go on our own.
The day of the vote, I was so filled with apprehension about the course of the war, about the course we were embarking on, I said in this Senate that we don't know whether our troops will be greeted with flowers or landmines. Well, now we know. That mission did not get accomplished. I called the 72 families in Maryland who gave their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice. I know what is going on out there with the families. I also know when we got to Iraq there were no weapons of mass destruction, but the destruction happened, and it happened fast.
No one can ask more of our troops. They are brave. They are courageous. They have fought valiantly. But after 4 years of fighting, where are we in Iraq? Well, the United States, went to war with Iraq, but right now we are at war within Iraq. Saddam is gone, but we are still there. And we are mired in a civil war between different ethnic and sectarian groups.
I have stated what I am against, but let me state what I am for. I am for the Warner-Levin-Biden resolution. I salute the leadership who produced it: John Warner, a decorated war hero, former Secretary of the Navy, chairman of the Committee on Armed Services when the Republicans were in control, a distinguished person, and a man of great comity and civility—no one more compassionate about America's security than John Warner; Joe Biden, chair of our Foreign Relations Committee; Carl Levin, an expert on the Committee on Armed Services and now the chairman. They put their heads together and they came up with this resolution, and to a man—and this woman supports them—the Senate opposes the President's plan because we think it is reckless.
The bipartisan resolution says the objective of overall U.S. strategy in Iraq should be to encourage Iraqi leaders to make political compromises, to foster reconciliation, and strengthen the unity government. This is what I consider essential.
The resolution says the primary objective of our military strategy should be to maintain Iraq's territorial integrity—fancy words for protecting the border; deny the terrorists a safe haven—yes, but they weren't there in the first place; promote regional stability; promote coun�ter�ter�ror�ism; train and equip the Iraqi forces. We have been doing it for 3 years. Guess what? They have not been showing up! And the other day when they were supposed to show up for a battle, 55 percent of them showed up in Baghdad. Gates, our new Secretary of Defense, said: Isn't this improvement? Last year, they didn't show up at all. It is their war and they are not showing up. Why should we show up for their war when they have a 50-percent attendance rate? What is wrong with this thinking?
As much as possible, the current U.S. military operations should be confined to these goals. We show up, they don't. Something is really wrong with this picture.
The bipartisan resolution calls for the United States to engage the nations in the Middle East to develop a regionally and internationally sponsored peace and reconciliation process. That is what we should be doing. The resolution says it should not be an open-ended commitment or unconditional. Sure, there should be benchmarks, but benchmarks with enforcement capability.
I do support this resolution because it makes clear to our men and women in uniform that Congress will not abandon them. It explicitly says that Congress should not take any action that will endanger U.S. military forces in the field. Whether on the battlefield or on the homefront, our troops deserve the best.
Also, the latest intelligence shows that Iraqi leadership has to make difficult changes. The solution in Iraq requires a political solution from the Iraqis—not military muscle—from the Americans.
There are parts of this resolution with which I don't agree. They call it an augmentation; I call it escalation. I oppose the calls for the vigorous operations at Anbar until there is greater clarification. There is no doubt that al-Qaida is operating in Iraq. But when I voted 4 years ago, al-Qaida was not there; they were in Afghanistan. Why didn't we stick with Afghanistan and really clean their clock? Now the President wants to send more Marines to Anbar to fight al-Qaida when we should have been in Afghanistan, catching Osama bin Laden.
We do need a way forward in Iraq. The Iraq Study Group gave us 79 recommendations as a way to go forward. Surely the President of the United States could have found 50 for us to sit down at a table, talk, and work together for the good of our country, the good of our troops, and the good of peace in the Middle East. Seventy-nine recommendations and they have all been cast aside. The Iraq Study Group calls for diplomatic and political efforts, a change in their primary mission to move our troops out of Iraq responsibly. They gave us a way forward that they believe could have gotten our troops out by the first quarter of 2008. Let's give those 79 recommendations at least a forum to be debated and discussed and acted on.
Where do we go from here? I will tell you where I think we ought to go. First of all, we ought to have a vote on the Warner-Biden-Levin resolution. If they do not want to give us that, give us a vote on the McCain resolution to vote to approve this escalation. One way or the other, that is our constitutional duty.
The President says he does not need congressional consent to be able to do this reckless escalation. But he sure does need congressional advice. And my advice is, let's send in the diplomats before we send in more troops. We need a robust diplomatic strategy to match our robust military strategy. We need to make it clear that the Congress will not abandon our troops in the field, and we will not abandon them when they come home. Look at this President's budget; we are abandoning our troops. This whole escalation—sure, they talk about money for the 21,000, but it takes another 20,000 to support them. They don't walk their talk. They don't put the money in the budget.
Then we have our troops coming home. You look at the President's budget on Veterans Affairs—not only have they lost the records, they have lost their way at VA. We are not equipped to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan veterans coming home. They have horrific, permanent wounds of war, and we have a weak, unreliable funding system. You can't just support the troops with yellow ribbons. You have to put the money behind it. How about putting the money behind it when they come home? They need us. And they need us not only with words; they need us with deeds in the budget process. And I don't see it.
Now, we also need to make it clear to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki that he has to start to act. Speaking of showing up, I saw they could not get a quorum in the Iraqi Parliament. Only 50 percent of the troops show up, their own Parliament doesn't show up, but we show up with 21,000 more troops? The Prime Minister must meet benchmarks.
Let me conclude by saying that a great American military should not be a substitute for a weak Iraqi Government. Neither Congress nor the American people will abandon our troops, but the best way to support our troops is not to send more in harm's way.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the remaining time for Senator Kennedy be reserved.
The Acting President pro tempore - Without objection, it is so ordered.
Ms. Mikulski - I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from Texas.
John Cornyn-R (TX)
Iraq Troop Escalation
Mr. Cornyn-R, Texas - Mr. President, I noted with some interest the headline in today's Washington Post. It says "GOP Stalls Debate on Troop Increase."' I must say, in light of the remarks of the Senator from Maryland, obviously nobody has stalled the debate on troop increase or anything else to do with the conflict in Iraq. In fact, I think that is a positive thing because there isn't anything more important, in my view, than debating this important issue and, as the Senator from Maryland said, supporting our troops.
I do have profound disagreement, though, that these nonbinding resolutions which have been offered do anything other than encourage our enemy and undermine our troop morale.
I wonder why it is that so many are insistent that we proceed forward on nonbinding resolutions when, in fact, we know what power the Congress has when it comes to war. It is not to supplant the Commander in Chief, it is not to have 535 micromanagers, but it is the power of the purse. Yet it is the very amendment that Senator Gregg, the Senator from New Hampshire, has offered that the majority leader has denied an opportunity to debate and on which to have have an up-or-down vote. That is what the vote yesterday was about. It is not to cut off debate; it is to make sure the debate continues and that the varied positions espoused by Members of the Senate are not only fully debated but that there is an opportunity to vote on those positions.
At least two Members of the majority—Senator Dodd and Senator Feingold—have made it clear that they believe the power of the purse should be exercised to cut off funding to support this new plan forward. While I disagree with them, I do respect the fact that they actually intend to vote for something that would make a difference in the outcome as opposed to the nonbinding resolutions which have been offered by Senator Levin and others.
I do not understand why it is the critics—the President's critics and the critics of what is happening in Iraq—why they will not take yes for an answer. Yes, as the Senator from Maryland said, on November 7, obviously, Iraq was on the minds of the American people. It is one of the reasons why, frankly, the then majority is no longer the majority.
There are those who said: What we are doing in Iraq is not working, so we need a new commander. And, indeed, we have confirmed, unanimously, a new commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq.
There are those who said: We need a new plan in Iraq. And lo and behold, the President announced a new plan after lengthy consultation.
I think there is a fair amount of revisionist history or selective memory going on. For example, there are some who said the President did not consider, in coming up with this new plan, the provisions of the Iraq Study Group. Of course, this is a bipartisan group that made 79 different recommendations. But I would challenge the critics who say the President ignored the Iraq Study Group report to look at page 73 of that report, where they say, unanimously—a bipartisan group—they could support a temporary surge of troops to secure Baghdad if it was necessary.
Indeed, if you look at this new way forward, that is precisely what it is, a temporary surge, supporting Iraqi troops to provide an opportunity not only to clear but to hold Baghdad and then to build and begin the political reconciliation process that is necessary for stabilization.
My colleagues on the other side of the aisle are saying we do not want to debate, when the truth is they are denying us a right to vote on some of the key resolutions that define the nature of the debate in this Congress.
We want a debate. We want a debate, but we want it to be a fair debate. And we want it to be representative. We want to expand and extend the debate so we can fully examine and discuss what is at stake in this central front in the global war on terror. We want a full and comprehensive debate and an opportunity to vote. Do they?
If our friends on the other side of the aisle are serious when they say they do not want to block funding for our troops, then why are they dodging an amendment offered by Senator Gregg that would allow them a vote on that important issue?
Now, I disagree that we should ever cut off funds to support our troops while they are in a time of war. But I think if you feel what is happening in Iraq cannot be justified, if you feel we have already lost and we are merely sending more troops into harm's way, with no chance of accomplishing the mission, then I would say the only real vote that matters would be one that would cut off the funds to allow that to happen. That would be the moral decision to make. I simply disagree with the judgment. I do not believe all is lost. I do believe this new plan, this new commander, this new Secretary of Defense have a reasonable chance of success.
Now, we all agree the consequences of failure in Iraq are not simply something we can walk away from. The Iraq Study Group said that failure in Iraq could result in a regional conflict, most likely ethnic cleansing, where the sectarian violence would spiral out of control, perhaps bringing in other countries to defend the various sectarian parties to that conflict.
We know from sad experience what happened in Afghanistan after the Soviet Union was defeated by the Afghan rebels, where the Taliban and al-Qaida set up business in Afghanistan and used that as a place to train and recruit and then to launch terrorist attacks against the United States, such as what occurred on September 11, 2001.
Where is the plan of the critics of this new way forward in Iraq? What is their plan to avoid a failed state in Iraq? Where is their plan to avoid the kind of regional conflict and the humanitarian crisis that will most likely occur if, in fact, we do not try to support this new plan forward and bring stability to Iraq long enough to where the Iraqis—which is their responsibility—can engage in the reconciliation process and the political process necessary to stabilize that country, which is in their best interest, which is in our best interest? Because we know if things spiral out of control in Iraq, if we decide to precipitously leave Iraq and it becomes a failed state or becomes a killing field for ethnic cleansing, we will most likely have to return at even greater loss of blood and treasure.
So I would ask the new majority, since the Senator from Maryland mentioned the election of November 7, what is your plan? To criticize may be OK if you are in the minority. But if you are the majority, surely you have a responsibility to offer a constructive alternative. It is not constructive to merely criticize the new plan that is going to be executed by the new commander, unanimously confirmed by this Congress, and a new Secretary of Defense.
I must say, with all due respect, it is not supporting our troops to send them into harm's way if, in fact, our colleagues believe all is lost and they cannot succeed. I do not believe that. But if, in fact, they truly do believe that, then they should stand up and be willing to vote on the only resolution that would have an outcome on that determination. That is the Gregg amendment.
It is because we have been denied an opportunity to vote on that only amendment that counts that this debate continues. It was not cut off yesterday; merely a fair process was secured for those of us who think that all views ought to be represented and we ought to have more than one vote rather than be railroaded in this process.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from South Dakota.
John Thune-R (SD)
Mr. Thune-R, South Dakota - Mr. President, yesterday, by a vote of 49 to 47, a cloture motion failed that would have essentially cut off a broader debate on the big issue of the day; that is, how are we going to deal with the situation in Iraq? I think the vote failed not because, as was reported in some newspapers, Republicans did not want to debate the issue but, rather, because we want a full debate on the issue.
The importance of this issue and the stakes associated with its outcome warrant a full debate, not one restricted by one party in the Senate. The full range of views on this issue deserves to be heard. They deserve a voice in the Senate. The American people deserve that debate. And surely, the Americans in uniform who are fighting and dying deserve that debate in the Senate.
Saturday, I attended two welcome home ceremonies for National Guard units. Both performed superbly in fighting the global war on terror. The 114th Air Wing, a National Guard unit in Sioux Falls, SD, has been deployed all over the planet. They have been in Afghanistan. They have been in Iraq—16 different places since 2001, after the terrorist attacks, in each case performing with distinction. They support an F-16 mission and have been utilized extensively. In fact, 72 percent, I believe, of all the members of that unit have been deployed someplace in the last 5 years, as we have been fighting this war on terror.
They and their families deserve a debate in the Senate about the future of that mission they have been undertaking. There has been a lot of debate around the country, a lot of debate in Washington about what to do next. We have now before us a plan which is a change of strategy. It incorporates more involvement by the Iraqi security forces in terms of their military. Also, their political structures, their Government has certain benchmarks it has to meet and economic requirements they have to comply with regarding the division, distribution of oil revenues—a whole range of things that have given us a new opportunity, a new opening to get this right with the situation in Iraq.
I believe the families of those who have served and sacrificed certainly deserve to have a full debate, not a restricted debate, in the Senate, a full debate where the full range of views, the full range of options that are held by the American people can be adequately voiced.
I also attended a welcoming home ceremony for the 147th Field Artillery, 1st Battalion, Charlie Battery, in Yankton, SD. This is a unit which has contributed mightily to the war on terror and suffered greatly. They have had four members of their unit who never came back, killed by IEDs: SGT Richard Schild, SGT Daniel Cuka, SGT Allen Kokesh, and SGT Greg Wagner--young Americans who will never be with their families again.
Also, they had a young sergeant in their unit who has suffered debilitating injuries, brain injuries that he continues to receive intensive medical treatment for and perhaps will never be the same. They had a young specialist, Brian Knigge from Plankinton, SD, who suffered injuries from which he is still recovering.
They are a unit that has suffered greatly in this war on terror. Yet there is a tremendous resilience and commitment and dedication to the mission. The area in which they were involved was the training of Iraqi security forces, specifically the Iraqi police, in the area of Baghdad, which is why it was so very dangerous for them. And the IEDs that have killed and seriously injured so many of our young American soldiers who are serving in that region did four of their comrades in. And as I said, a couple are very seriously injured.
They and their families who have sacrificed so greatly—and when I go to these events, I, obviously, have opportunities to interact with the families, with those whom these soldiers left behind. It is heartbreaking to see the separation, the consequence, and the cost of war. Yet at the same time, we have to realize when we get into a conflict like this, it is not just about what we are doing today, it is about securing a better, safer, more secure future for the next generation of Americans.
That is why this debate is so important. Many have argued what is happening today in the Middle East, in Iraq, is simply a regional conflict or a conflict between different sects within Iraq. But, frankly, we all know this—you do not have to be a rocket scientist to see what happens when these terrorist organizations are left free to prey in areas such as that, where there is not a lot of control and security. They begin to use these places as sanctuaries and safe havens to launch attacks against other places across the world, including the United States.
It is important, in this global war on terror, that we understand what the consequences and stakes of our failure are. I believe that is why, when we have a debate, we need to have a debate that reflects the full range of options and the full range of views that are available to the Senate when it comes to the future of Iraq—again, the discussion about consequences of failure, the discussion about plans going forward.
Right now we have a plan in front of us. We have a strategy that has been put forward by the President and his commanders in the region. We have a new commander on the ground, General Petraeus. We have some new troops heading into the area. There are changes in the rules of engagement. This may be our last best shot, our last best hope of being able to get this right.
We have engaged in this debate in the Senate which, again, in my view, sends entirely the wrong signal, the wrong message to our troops and to our enemies who interpret these messages that we send as a lack of resolve, a lack of will to finish what we started. More importantly, ultimately, the reason this has such great weight and gravity is that the people who are the primary receivers of the messages we send are the troops in the field. It is very difficult to say to those troops who are day in and day out putting on the uniform of the United States, performing a mission that we have asked them to do, which we have pointed out has grave consequences not only for that immediate region but for the entire free world--if you look at the arc of extremism that branches from areas such as Afghanistan and al-Qaida to areas such as some of the terrorist organizations in Lebanon, in the Palestinian territories, all these terrorist organizations and attacks are orchestrated by organizations that want to kill and destroy Americans.
We have a responsibility in the debate to make sure that when we are putting young Americans in harm's way, we are allowing a debate to go forward that examines the full range of views, the full range of options that are available to the Senate. Frankly, the one that matters the most, in terms of the options we have as a nation and as the Senate, comes down to the issue of funding. Frankly, we don't have an opportunity in this debate to talk about the real tool the Senate has when it comes to this issue; that is, the issue of funding. We have nonbinding resolutions. Everybody wants to debate nonbinding resolutions. They are nonbinding, but they are not meaningless. They send a message that we are not supportive of the mission our troops are undertaking.
But if the Senate is serious about doing its work, and if there are well-meaning and thoughtful people on the other side of the aisle who want to have this debate, then we ought to get down to what real options, what the real tools are at the disposal of the Senate when it comes to having any kind of a role in what happens in the future of Iraq. That is the issue of funding.
The leadership on the other side has said: We are not going to allow you to have a debate that includes that option, that includes the other options proposed, some from the other side that have talked about troop caps, withdrawal timelines.
Ultimately, fundamentally, if the other side is serious, let's have a debate about funding because that is the tool the Congress has at its disposal. If that is not a part of the debate, we are not serious about this debate or the range of options that ought to be heard and voiced in the Senate.
I see I have other colleagues who want to speak on this issue.
I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from Massachusetts.
Ted Kennedy-D (MA)
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator is correct.
Mr. Kennedy - Would the Chair remind me when there is a minute remaining?
The Acting President pro tempore - Yes.
Mr. Kennedy - I thank the Chair.
Mr. President, last evening the Republicans said no to an honest debate about what is best for our troops in Iraq, our national security, and for the American people. Our men and women in uniform have done everything that we have asked them to do. They have served with dignity, honor, and valor. They have served in Iraq longer than American forces fought in World War II. It has been said by Republicans and Democrats: This doesn't cry for a military solution, it cries for a political solution and resolution. Still we have a President who is relying on sending an additional 20,000 to 38,000 troops more to what is effectively a civil war.
The cost in blood and treasure has been staggering. More than 3,000 Americans have been killed so far, including 64 from Massachusetts; more than 23,000 have been wounded. In my home community, SGT Alexander Fuller of Centerville, MA, was buried last week; Keith Callahan of Woburn, MA—Woburn, MA, that had a higher percentage of soldiers killed in Vietnam than any other community in our State. High school class after high school class after high school class joined the U.S. Marines. They were in the thick of the fighting with devastating losses. Keith Callahan, in his fourth trip to Iraq, was killed just 10 days ago. The services in that community took place last week.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, and millions have fled their homes. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the war already. Today the President is asking for hundreds of billions of dollars more. President Bush insists on his policy of escalation, while most of us in Congress are increasingly convinced that deescalation is the only realistic strategy. The American people do not support further escalation of this war. The legislation on which we seek an honest debate is intended to make a record of who is on the side of the American people and opposes sending tens of thousands more American troops into this civil war.
Despite the clear result of the November election, our Republican colleagues are not prepared to face the truth on Iraq. They are determined to avoid a debate on the most important national security issue of our time. They are willing to allow tens of thousands of more young men and women to be dropped in the cauldron of a civil war.
The cost in precious American lives is reason enough to end this mistaken and misguided war, but the cost at home came into full view yesterday as we received the President's budget. This President's budget devotes more than $200 billion to the war in Iraq. Where does the money come from? It comes from the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as the President's budget underfunds the CHIP program by $8 billion. That program provides health care to low-income children. It has had bipartisan support in the Senate and the House of Representatives. It has made an extraordinary difference to the quality of health of millions of children. There are millions of children who are qualified for this program. But because the Federal Government doesn't provide the help to the States, those children are not going to get covered.
Make no mistake about it. We are taking those resources that ought to be devoted to the CHIP program and sending them to Iraq. It comes from our children's education, the No Child Left Behind Act, because this budget underfunds the No Child Left Behind reforms by almost $15 billion. What are we saying? We are not going to get the well-trained teachers that this legislation requires. We are not going to have the adequacy of supplementary services to help those children in high school. We are not going to move toward smaller class sizes. We are not going to have an effective program to bring in parents. We are not going to have the examination of these children to find out what they need in terms of help in their classes. No, because we are shipping billions of dollars to Iraq.
Twenty-three thousand children are in the streets of Philadelphia today, having dropped out of school; 22,000 children have dropped out of school in Cleveland, OH. It is happening all over the country. And what are we doing? Sending away billions and billions of dollars that ought to be there for prevention programs to stop those children from dropping out of school, to help those children get back into school so they will have useful and productive lives. They are the ones who are paying for these wars.
As to seniors, our disabled citizens, the President cut $66 billion from the Medicaid Program which is a lifeline to millions of retirees and disabled children. I was there when President Johnson said: You work hard, you pay into the Medicare Program, pay into those programs, and we guarantee you that you are going to have the health care you need for the rest of your life. That is a commitment that we made. Now we are skimping on it. We didn't provide at that time a prescription drug program. We provided one eventually that served more for the drug industry and the HMOs than it did for the senior citizens. We are cutting back on health care for our seniors and the disabled.
It comes from our workers who are looking for good jobs to support their families because the President's budget slashes $1 billion from programs that train Americans for jobs for the future. How many speeches will we hear about competitiveness and the problems we are facing in terms of the world economy, how we are going to have to redouble our efforts in order to be competitive, to have the new industries that will provide new jobs and new benefits and new opportunities for our citizens. Every Member of this body will be making that speech someplace in their State next week. We know that. What are we doing?
In my State of Massachusetts, we have 275,000 people who are unemployed, and we have 78,000 job vacancies. The only thing that is lacking is training. We have 24 applications for every opening for training. People want the training to get the skills to participate and take care of their families. What does this President do? He cuts that program. That is part of the cost.
People are asking back home—down in New Bedford and Fall River and Lowell and Lawrence and Holyoke and Springfield—who is going to stand up for us? It is not only the loss of their sons and daughters from those communities, but they see that it is gutting the lifelines to their communities, the children and the elderly, those who are the most vulnerable in our society. They are paying the price. Read the President's budget. Make no mistake about it. Who is paying the price? They are paying the price, the neediest people in our society.
Then it comes from the poor who are struggling against the bitter cold. It cuts 17 percent of the funding for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program that helps low-income families heat their homes. Maybe it is warm in certain parts of this country, but it is cold as can be in many others. There are a lot of needy people in those cold areas where there is a completely inadequate fuel assistance program now. This administration has cut back on that program year after year after year, and this year is no different, a 17-percent reduction.
Most of the elderly people, the needy people in my State, need to have their oil tanks, if they are using home heating oil, filled three times a year. This won't even let them get one tank of fuel assistance in their homes over the year. The poor are paying a fearsome price. They are seeing their funding diverted to these conflicts and the surge in Iraq.
This is a war that never should have happened. It is a war that should be brought to an end. Yet the administration is allowing it to go on and on, mistake after mistake after mistake. This terrible war is having an effect not only on our troops, who are paying the highest price, but on our children, our elderly, our schools, our workers, and the poorest of the poor here at home. Make no mistake about it. While the President forges ahead with a surge in Iraq, the American people need a surge at home. Americans see the cost of their health care and the cost of college going up. What about a surge in our health and education policy to help meet their needs? What about a surge in those areas?
I have introduced legislation which would require the President to get the authority he needs from Congress before moving forward with further escalation in Iraq. I intend to seek a vote on it, unless the President changes course. The debate is about what is best for our troops and our national security. Our forces have served with great valor. They have done everything they have been asked to do. Sending more of them into a civil war will not make success any more likely. We have a responsibility to vote on this issue before it is too late. The American people deserve to know where the Republicans stand and where the representatives in the Congress stand.
I look forward to that debate and a vote at the earliest possible time.
I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from South Carolina is recognized.
The Acting President pro tempore - The minority has 8 1/2 minutes.
Mr. DeMint - I ask unanimous consent that the Senator from Colorado be able to speak for 10 minutes following my remarks and the remarks of Senator Coburn.
The Acting President pro tempore - Without objection, it is so ordered.
Jim DeMint-R (SC)
Worldwide "War on Terror"
I have to say I was disappointed to read in this morning's Roll Call that many of my Democratic colleagues are using this debate for the 2008 elections rather than focusing on the real damage that the resolution we have been discussing will do to our national security.
One of our greatest Presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, once said, "It is not the critic who counts. The credit," he said, "belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.
"The credit," Roosevelt said, belongs to the man "who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
At this very moment, our Commander in Chief and those he commands are daring greatly.
Our men and women in uniform are paying with blood, sweat, and tears. Yet many in this body prefer to sit in the stands and offer criticism rather than support.
For the past 50 years, the Middle East has been a cauldron of brutality, war, and despair. The region's instability has threatened the entire globe and reached our shores on 9/11 with a stark awakening.
This is why we are involved in the Middle East. The future security of our homeland is tied directly to a successful outcome not only in Iraq but in Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territory, and a number of Middle East countries that harbor evil men who foment hate through a perverted version of Islam.
Yet as our efforts in Iraq encounter fierce resistance from a determined and evil enemy, support for our efforts has waned here in Congress. Instead, many of my colleagues prefer to support a nonbinding resolution that would express disapproval of the President's plan to reinforce our troops in Iraq.
Voting for this resolution is not leadership, it is criticism—criticism without the courage of offering real solutions. While this resolution may be toothless by force of law, its symbolism is dangerous. Voting to condemn the President's plan is a vote of no confidence in the mission we have told our troops to fight and die for. But it is also a slap in the face to General Petraeus just days after we voted unanimously to support his leadership of our troops in Iraq.
"Godspeed, General," was what one of my colleagues said before introducing the very resolution that would undermine the general's authority and his plan for victory.
This is not leadership. We were elected to make tough decisions and that requires understanding our choices, selecting the best choice, and then following through. But I am afraid the critics in this body do not acknowledge the real choices before us. There are only three:
First, to continue the unworkable status quo; second, to admit defeat and withdraw; third, to renew our strength until we win.
I respect my colleagues who disagree with the President's strategy in Iraq, but only if they exercise leadership and support an alternative solution, one that proposes a serious path to victory, or announces defeat and ends our involvement immediately, not only in Iraq but throughout the Middle East, because America will no longer have any credibility to carry out our work in any part of the world.
If my colleagues do not support sending reinforcements to Iraq, they should introduce legislation blocking that action. While I believe this is shortsighted and wrong, it would at least be genuine leadership.
My hope is we will stop trying to second guess past decisions in order to lay blame and instead remember we are locked in a struggle much larger than Iraq. It is a struggle of security, hope, and freedom versus hate, despair, and fear. The battlefield is the entire world.
We must understand the stakes and demonstrate real leadership. This is not the President's war, it is freedom's war, and we all share the responsibility for the outcome.
A century later, Teddy Roosevelt is still correct. The critic "who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better" is destined to be relegated to that terrible place "with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
There is only one policy worthy of the blood and sweat of our troops: a policy that completes our mission with dignity, honor, and victory.
Mr. President, I reserve the remainder of my time and yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from Oklahoma is recognized.
Tom Colburn-R (OK)
Mr. Colburn-R, Oklahoma - Mr. President, I have not come to the floor, except once, in the 2 years I have been here to discuss the war in Iraq. I have been to Iraq and had experience in Iraq as a medical missionary during the first gulf war.
I am very much concerned as to how the world will read us. What we know is that enemies try to defeat us not by trying to defeat us on the battlefield or in Iraq; they try to defeat our will, try to defeat the will of the American public.
Senator DeMint talked about leadership. Leadership is laying out the real consequences of our action. What are those consequences? What next? What is going to happen next? What is going to happen? We heard this morning that we are trying to delay this resolution. We are not trying to delay it. As a matter of fact, they are saying we would not debate it. We are debating it right now. The fact is, we believe you ought to have a resolution that says we support our troops in this group of resolutions. Unless we get some semblance of saying we want to send a signal to our troops that we support them, we should not have a rule that precludes that.
So politics aside, and the next election aside, and the Presidential election aside, what does it mean to the American people about what we end up doing in Iraq? That is the question we should be asking. We should be making sure that the mistake we do not make is to have an ill-informed American public about what the consequences will be.
Regardless of whether we should be in Iraq, we are there. We cannot change that. The question comes, what does the Iraq Study Group say? They said we needed to secure Baghdad; they said we needed reinforcements to be able to do that; they said we needed more funds to make a difference in people's lives. These are the funds that go to the generals to actually approve things.
Can we accomplish something in Iraq or do we walk away? Here is what happens when we walk away. No. 1, there will be a genocide in Iraq. The minority Sunni population will scatter out of Iraq, and those who don't will be killed.
The northern Iraqis, the Kurds—what will happen to them? If we are gone and full-blown civil war breaks out, what will happen to the Kurds? This is a group of 36 million people who have not had a homeland since the Ottoman Empire. Genocide was committed against them by Saddam. What will happen to them? They will be seen as a risk to Turkey. Turkey already has problems with its Kurdish population.
What will happen in Lebanon? Probably civil war.
What will happen in Jordan?
What will happen to the Sunni gulf states, as they now fear Iran and its dominance?
This is a war Iran wants us to leave. Why? Because they want to empower themselves to be the dominant force in the Middle East. We can talk about all of the resolutions and how we disagree; that is basically political posturing, and you can disagree. But as the Senator from South Carolina said, unless you put something into force of action, it is criticism, not leadership. We need to calculate whatever we do in this body, based on what the outcome of that calculation is going to be, not by giving bellicose speeches that set up false choices that are not there. The fact is we have an obligation to the very people—the innocent people—in Iraq today.
We can walk away from that, but history will judge us harshly. The estimates are there will be 5 million people displaced out of Iraq. There will be between 700,000 and 1 million additional Iraqis who will die. Do we not have an obligation to make that not happen? Do we not have an obligation to do what is in the best long-term interests of this country? Is it in our best interest for this country to get out of Iraq? Is it? How does that fit with the war on terror and our ability to conduct that war when we create in Iraq, by withdrawing, a new state that is run by al-Qaida and by the Shia, which will in fact have the funding to dominate in the international arena with terrorism and hatefulness and murder and pillaging of innocent people?
It is not as simple as everybody here wants to make it seem. It certainly should not be political. But that is where we are going. The very comment that we cannot have a debate on supporting the policy, that we will not allow a resolution that says we are going to support our troops—why don't they want that? It is because that will get the highest number of votes. That will become the story—not the story that somebody postured in a position that is well-intended and well-meaning, that they don't think a surge or a reinforcement in Iraq is correct.
America is at a crossroads. The crossroads is whether we will fulfill and carry out the responsibilities, some of which we added to ourselves by our very position, but whether we will fulfill that. We will be judged by history.
To undermine many of the steps that the Iraq Study Group said, which is in the President's plan, nobody knows if this will work, but I guarantee it will not work if we send a signal to those who oppose us that this is it. All they do is sit and wait. More of Iran's influence and more dollars from Iran coming into Iraq—more to defeat us. If you defeat the will of the American people—and, by doing that, that is our problem—if we allow that to happen as leaders in this country, then we will be responsible for that 5 million displacement, for those million deaths, and the millions that will follow when you have a Middle East dominated by Iran with a nuclear weapon.
We should think long and hard. The American people should not respond just to the urge to get out of Iraq but respond to the well-thought-out consequences of what happens next. And what happens next is a disaster, not only for the people of Iraq, for the people of the Middle East, but also for the national security of this country and our ability to carry out our foreign policy in the future.
I earnestly pray that we will consider the actions here and the words here in light of what comes next, not in terms of politics but what happens to our country.
Denying the heritage we have of sacrifice for freedom and liberty and denying that it costs something and walking away from that, we will reap that which we sow as we walk away from it. Caution to us as we do that.
Mr. President, I yield back the remainder of my time.
The Acting President pro tempore - Under the previous order, the time until 12:30 p.m. shall be divided between the majority and the minority.
The Senator from Colorado.
Ken Salazar-D (CO)
Mr. Salazar-D, Colorado - Mr. President, this is a disappointing day for the Senate and for the United States of America because the debate we should be having on this floor, which is taking place around procedural issues, should really be a debate about what is happening in Iraq and the new direction we should be heading in Iraq.
It is disappointing as well that it has been postured somehow as a political debate from the other side. The fact is that what happens in Iraq today and what happens in Iraq in the months and years ahead is, in fact, perhaps the most important issue we can face in the United States of America and in the world, and it is important that this body, elected by 300 million Americans in each of our respective States, grapple with the fundamental defining issue of our time.
It is also important, as we grapple with this issue of the future of Iraq and the involvement of the United States, that we try to move forward in a manner that is bipartisan. At the end of the day, the only way in which we are going to achieve stability in the Middle East and we are going to bring our troops home--which I believe is a goal that is shared by the 100 Members of this body—is if we develop a bipartisan approach to getting it done. Yet, at the end of the day, we can't even seem to get beyond a procedural obstacle to get to a debate on the central issue that was presented by a bipartisan resolution, led by some of the most distinguished Members of this Senate, including Senator Warner, Senator Levin, and others. We cannot even get past the procedural problem for us to end up having a discussion and a vote on that very simple issue.
I ask our brethren on the other side that they join us in getting through this procedural roadblock so that we can have an effective debate and a vote on a question that is before us concerning the future of Iraq and the President's plan on how we move forward.
I am disappointed as one Senator that today we are not on this floor debating the alternative resolutions that were submitted in the last week, which are bipartisan in nature, and then deciding how to move forward as a Senate. I am very disappointed that we have not been able to get there.
Let me also say that for those who have said the political posturing is taking place on this side, I don't believe that is at all the case. The fact is, what we have been trying to do on this side is to have an open and honest debate, and again underscoring the reality that if we are going to find our way out of the quagmire in which we find ourselves in Iraq, it is going to take a true bipartisan effort to get us to a place where we can say we have peace and stability in the Middle East and we have brought our troops home. I hope as we move forward in this discussion that we will be able to find some of that bipartisan consensus.
At the end of the day, when we look at what is happening in Iraq, we need to recognize the realities. We need to know and remember the 3,100 men and women who have given their lives on behalf of the mission the President assigned to them in that country. We need to remember the 23,000 men and women in uniform who today are wounded and who are carrying the scars of the war with them day by day and for many of them for the rest of their lives. We need to remember the 137,000 men and women who are on the ground in Iraq today. The bipartisan resolution we put forward with Senator Warner, Senator Nelson, Senator Collins, and others recognizes that. We recognize the bravery of the men and women who have given so much of their time and their life in Iraq, and we recognize the need for us to support our men and women on the ground in Iraq.
But we also recognize that what the American people are asking us to do is to chart a new direction for Iraq. I have heard some of my colleagues on the other side—as there is criticism on this side—that all we are doing is being critical and not offering alternatives. The fact is that we are attempting to come up with a new direction in Iraq, and that is what is embodied in the Warner-Levin resolution. It is, in fact, a new direction and new strategy in Iraq.
Mr. President, I ask the Members of this body and I ask the people of the United States of America to consider what are the options before us. In my view, there are three options. There is plan A. Plan A is a plan—which was put forth by the President after several months of deliberation in which he concluded what we had to do in order to be successful in Iraq—to send 21,500 additional troops. In real terms, that is about 48,000 additional troops assigned, mostly in Baghdad. Some people have called it an escalation. Some people have called it a surge. That is the heart of the plan. It is a plan he announced in early January, a plan he reiterated at the State of the Union, that we assign 21,500 troops to Baghdad.
The question we all ought to be asking ourselves is whether that will work. Will plan A work? I believe those who have studied the issue in great depth would answer the question no—no, it will not work; no, it will not work because Operation Going Forward in June of 2006, just 7 months ago, showed that it does not work. And when that didn't work, we went in with a surge of some 7,000 troops in August in Operation Going Forward Together No. 2, and again that did not work. If today we go in with 21,500 additional troops, plus all the support for the troops that is going to be necessary, what is going to be the result of that endeavor? In my view, we have been there, we have done that, and it hasn't worked. So we have to look forward to a new direction. So I believe plan A, the President's plan, is not a plan that is going to work.
Then there is plan B. Plan B is being advocated by many, including some who have demonstrated in Washington and have called our offices every day, and that is to just bring our troops home today; it is over; it is a precipitous withdrawal; let's get out of there and get out of there right now. The mistakes of the past have compounded the problems in the Middle East and Iraq to the point that we can't put Humpty Dumpty together. Not all the king's men or all the king's horses could ever put Humpty Dumpty together again, some people would say, because the problems in Iraq today are so severe.
I, as one Senator, reject plan B as well. I don't believe we can afford to move forward with that kind of precipitous withdrawal.
There is plan C, and plan C is really the plan of trying to move forward in a bipartisan way so that we can achieve success in Iraq--success, again, being defined by stability in Iraq and in the region and by bringing our troops home.
I know there are lots of people in this body who have much more experience than I, and I know there are lots of people who have studied this issue extensively over a very long period of time, and yet it is amazing to me that when we have a group of people in a bipartisan way coming forward with a new direction, we have the President and others of the minority party essentially rejecting that plan of going forward together in a new direction.
When I look at the Iraq study report and I look at names such as former Secretary of State James Baker, former Attorney General Ed Meese, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, I see all of these Republicans who are saying we need a new direction going forward together. I believe that is what we ought to be doing, and I believe that new direction going forward together is what is embodied in the bipartisan resolution which was put together by Senator Warner, Senator Levin, and others. It is that kind of new direction which we ought to be debating and discussing on the floor of the Senate today.
When one looks at this group of elder statesmen, which includes not only the Republicans whose names I mentioned, but they include esteemed elder statesmen who are also Democrats, such as Lee Hamilton, Vernon Jordan, Leon Panetta, William Perry, and Charles Robb, when we see those kinds of elder statesmen who have taken a year to try to figure out how we deal with this quagmire in Iraq, we have to say those recommendations should be paid very serious attention. The recommendations are many, but they are important because they show the depth of thinking that commission went through in coming up with those recommendations.
In essence, what that bipartisan group of elder statesmen said to the people of America is that the way forward requires a new approach. The way forward requires a new approach. They talk about the external approach, which is to build an international consensus on how we move forward in Iraq. They talk about a new diplomatic offensive which is important if we are to succeed because there are too many nations in that part of the world and around the world who have been sitting on their hands letting America do it alone. They have to stop sitting on their hands if ultimately we are going to achieve stability in the Middle East.
They talk about the Iraq International Support Group, and that kind of a group would be a group that would make sure the efforts on reconstruction and building the peace and security in Iraq are, in fact, successful. Where is that group? It hasn't been there. It has been the United States alone moving forward on this effort. We need to have the international community involved.
It talks about dealing with Iran and dealing with Syria. They are part of that region, like it or not. This group of elder statesmen has said we need to deal with those countries. We know the limitations. We know the threats they also embody and present to the United States of America, but we need to bring them into the dialog if ultimately we are going to bring stability to that region.
The study group goes on with a whole host of other recommendations on the internal approach, helping the Iraqis help themselves. It says that we must require the Iraqis to have performance on milestones, that we need to push them hard on national reconciliation, that we need to make sure the Iraqi Government takes responsibility for security and for their military forces, that they establish a functioning police force, and that they establish a criminal justice system that does, in fact, work. And the list goes on with 79 recommendations on the way forward, a new approach.
That is what we ought to be talking about, Mr. President, on the floor of the Senate today—how we move forward.
I look at this resolution which was put together by some of my esteemed colleagues, of which I am a proud original cosponsor, and I say at least we have tried on a bipartisan basis to figure out a roadmap for how we ought to move forward together as Democrats and Republicans, as Americans, on this issue, which is the defining issue of our times. I see the names of people such as Senator Warner, I see Senator Collins, I see Senator Levin, I see Senator Nelson of Nebraska, and others who have been involved in this effort. What we are trying to do as a group is to say we ought to figure out a way of charting a new direction forward together, much like the elder statesmen did in coming up with the Iraq Study Group recommendations. Yet we are being refused the opportunity to even engage in a debate on a resolution that essentially says this is a direction we propose to the President in how we move forward together.
I hope that at the end of the day, with the discussions that are going on between the leadership, we are able to come to some agreement. I believe there is too much at stake. I believe there is too much at stake not only in the Middle East, but there is too much at stake for the United States of America and for the free world. At the end of the day, it is going to take Republicans and Democrats working together to try to chart this new and successful direction for how we move forward in Iraq.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from North Dakota.
The Acting President pro tempore -That is correct.
Mr. Dorgan - Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that all time consumed in any quorum call today be equally divided.
The Acting President pro tempore -Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. Dorgan-R, North Dakota - Mr. President, my colleague, Senator Feinstein of California, this weekend made a point that I think is very important. She, on a television program, said that Iraq is being debated virtually everywhere in our country: debated at kitchen tables, business places, workplaces, and schools. The only place in America that Iraq is not being debated is in the Senate. Here we are debating whether we should debate.
That was what went on yesterday, and it is what is going on today, a debate about whether the debate on Iraq should occur in the Senate. It is unbelievable. We have a cloture vote on a motion to proceed to the debate, and the minority party in the Senate voted nearly unanimously to say, no, we shouldn't be debating. I don't understand that at all, Mr. President.
Why would we not want to engage in this national discussion about what is happening in Iraq; what are our obligations, and what are our national interests with respect to these issues? This is not a war against terrorists in the main. It is sectarian violence that is occurring in Iraq. Yes, there are some terrorists in Iraq, I understand that, but it is largely sectarian violence, Shia on Sunni, Sunni on Shia.
Let me make a point about Iraq that I think is important. The dictator who used to exist in Iraq no longer exists. Yes, he was a madman and a dictator. We have unearthed mass graves in Iraq to show that nearly a half million people were murdered by the man who ran that country. But he has been executed, and the people of Iraq have had the opportunity to vote for a new constitution.
The people of Iraq have had the opportunity to vote for a new government. Things have changed in Iraq. We now have in Iraq what is largely a civil war, sectarian violence. Things have changed.
What is the role, then--given that Saddam Hussein has been executed, given that there is a new constitution, given that there is a new government--what is the role for the United States and its soldiers? Is the role to continue to be in the middle of a civil war in Iraq, to surge additional troops, as the President suggests? That is what was to be debated this week in the Senate. But at this point we still cannot debate that because we are debating whether we will be able to debate it. It is unbelievable to me. Only here on this small piece of real estate, one of the wonderful places on this Earth, the United States Senate, do we have a serious debate about whether we should debate.
We should have moved very quickly past this issue of a motion to proceed and been to the substance of this issue on behalf of this great country of ours. There is a majority in this Congress for a bipartisan resolution. And I emphasize bipartisan resolution. Senator Warner, a very distinguished American, a Republican, and former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Senator Levin, a Democrat, the same. Warner-Levin. When we get to a vote on the Warner-Levin resolution, which disapproves of surging additional American troops to Iraq and deepening our involvement in Iraq, a majority of the Senate will support that resolution. There is a clear majority for that resolution. The question is, Can we get to that point?
I hope in the coming hours that the minority will relent and give us the opportunity, the opportunity the American people would expect to exist in the United States to debate one of the most important questions of our time. This is about obstruction and it is about political maneuvering and about protecting the White House. It is about a lot of things, unfortunately. It ought to be about this country's national interest, this country's best interest. It ought to be about the soldiers we have asked to don America's uniforms and go fight for this country and what is best for them as well.
Two months ago, General Abizaid said this in open testimony in the Senate:
I met with every divisional commander. I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now--he is talking about Iraq--does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no.
That is what the commanding general said 2 months ago in testimony before the Senate. Why did they all say no? Here is what General Abizaid said the reason is:
We want the Iraqis to do more. It is easy for the Iraqis to rely upon us to do more. I believe more forces prevents the Iraqis from doing more and taking responsibility for their own future.
Finally, Mr. President, a week ago, the head of our intelligence services came to the Senate and testified in open public hearings. Here is what he said:
Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization that poses the greatest threat to U.S. interests, including the homeland.
That is from the top intelligence chief of our country. Here is what he said:
Al-Qaeda continues to plot attacks against our homeland and other targets with the objective of inflicting mass casualties. They continue to maintain active connections and relationships radiating outward from their leaders' secure hideout in Pakistan.
Let me say that again. Our top intelligence person says that al-Qaida is the greatest terrorist threat to our country; that they direct their operations from a secure hideout in Pakistan.
Mr. President, a question: If al-Qaida is the greatest terrorist threat to America, and our intelligence chief says it is directed from their secure hideout in Pakistan, and we know that Osama bin Laden continues to talk to us in his missives that they send out; if we have 21,000 additional soldiers to surge anywhere, why on Earth would we not use those 21,000 soldiers to eliminate the greatest terrorist threat to our country, which would be to eliminate the leadership of al-Qaida?
No, that is not what the President recommends. He recommends we send 21,000 additional soldiers into the neighborhoods of Baghdad where sectarian violence is occurring in massive quantities and a civil war exists. With all due respect, and I do respect the President, he is wrong, and I believe the majority of this Senate would say he is wrong by voting for the Warner-Levin resolution.
In a Byzantine twist, however, on this Tuesday morning, we find ourselves debating the question of whether we should debate one of the central questions of our time.
That is unworthy of the Senate. What is worthy of this Senate, and I am proud to be a part of it what is worthy of us is to have on the floor of the United States Senate the great questions before this country, the questions the American people ask this morning and discuss this morning all across this country: What is our role here? What is happening here? How have things changed in Iraq? What is the greatest threat to our country? How do we deal with that threat? What about Mr. Negroponte pointing out that the greatest terrorist threat is al-Qaida? What about the fact he says they are in a secure hideaway in Pakistan? What about the fact that no one has done anything about it? What about the fact that if 21,000 soldiers are available to be surged, that the President says let's send them to Baghdad, in the middle of a civil war in Iraq, rather than going to Pakistan after the leadership of the greatest terrorist threat to this country, according to our intelligence chief?
I simply do not understand this logic. There is a lot to be said about these issues. All of us in this Chamber want the same thing for our country. All of us love this country. All of us respect our soldiers and will do everything to make sure we support them. All of us want this country to do well and to make the right decisions. In the last 5 years, however, we have been involved in a war that has lasted longer than the Second World War. We have been in a war that has cost us far too many lives and too much of America's treasure. We have been put in a situation in which there has been dramatic change. Yet the policy has not changed. This is not the circumstance for which we went to war in Iraq. All of that intelligence, it turns out, was wrong.
Colonel Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell's aide for 17 years and was present when the information was compiled that led to the presentation at the United Nations, testified before the Senate, and he said publicly that it was the perpetration of a hoax on the American people. That is not me speaking. That is someone who had a distinguished record and who served 17 years with Colin Powell. He was a Republican and proud of his service to this country, but he said all of the intelligence that was basketed together and presented was the perpetration of a hoax on the American people.
Whatever happened, happened. We went to Iraq. Saddam Hussein has now been executed. Iraq has a new constitution and a government. It is time, long past time for this country to say this to the country of Iraq: Saddam Hussein is gone. You have a new constitution. You have a new government. The question is this: Do you have the will to provide for your own security? Because if you don't, no one in the world can do it for you. Do you have the will to take your country back? This is your country, not ours. This country belongs to you, not us. Do you have the will to provide the security for a free Iraq? Because if you do not, I say to the people of Iraq, American soldiers cannot, for any indefinite period, provide order and security in Iraq for you. You have to make that judgment, and you have to understand that it is your responsibility to provide security in Iraq.
This is not a circumstance where we are trying to embarrass anybody. We are not trying to say to the President: You have an awful situation you have created, shame on you. That is not what this debate is about. All of us understand that things have changed. This debate is about what do we do at this point. Do we agree with the President that we should send 21,000 more American troops into Baghdad and surge and deepen America's involvement in this war?
Quite clearly, if we are allowed to get to this debate and have a vote on Warner-Levin, a bipartisan resolution, this Senate will say, no, we believe it is the wrong thing, and that will be the first step in beginning to change policy. It will say to the President, we believe you must change the policy, and then use our energies and our efforts to go after the leadership of al-Qaida. They are the ones who murdered Americans on 9/11, and they still exist in secure hideaways, according to our intelligence chief. Let's deal with the greatest terrorist threat to this country, according to Mr. Negroponte, the head of American intelligence. The greatest threat to our country. They exist. They live today, he says, in Pakistan. Let's deal with those issues.
As I indicated earlier, all of us want the same thing for our country. This is not about politics. It cannot be about politics. It is about policy and what works for America's future, what strengthens our country, what keeps our promise to our soldiers, and what keeps our commitment to ourselves as one of the great symbols of freedom in the world. That is why I hope we will get past this issue that has now impaled this Senate, a debate about whether we should debate. The answer clearly ought to be, yes, we ought to get to the debate that is significant and important to the future of this great country of ours.
Mr. President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The Acting President pro tempore - The absence of a quorum has been suggested.
The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
The Acting President pro tempore - Without objection, it is so ordered.
Amy Klobuchar-D (MN)
Mr. Klobuchar-D, Minnesota - Mr. President, for the last few weeks, a bipartisan group of Senators has worked to bring to the floor a resolution expressing opposition to the President's proposal to increase American troops in Iraq. In an effort to have an honest, thoughtful, and productive debate, they put aside their differences, only to be run over by partisan politics. I support the bipartisan resolution opposing the escalation. I support an honest and open debate on a policy that clearly needs to change. But I do not support what I saw take place in this Chamber yesterday.
Our soldiers and their families have sacrificed too much to accept the political obstructionism that is keeping this body from having a debate on a most critical issue. Our troops have given so much, and they deserve much more than what they got from the U.S. Senate yesterday. The least we can do is to have this debate, and the best we can do is to get this policy right for our troops.
I would like to thank those who worked on this resolution: Senators LEVIN and WARNER and Senators BIDEN and HAGEL and others. Throughout their careers, they have shown how much they care for the men and women in uniform. In crafting these resolutions, they showed us that when principled individuals from opposing parties care strongly about an issue, politics doesn't always have to win out.
Unfortunately, some in this body still don't want to have a debate about Iraq. It is long past time to have this debate. The American people have called for it, our troops have earned it, and we should be big enough to have it.
Over 3,000 American soldiers are dead, more than 20,000 have been wounded in combat, over 2,000 have lost their limbs, and more than $350 billion of taxpayer money has gone to Iraq. Scores of Iraqis are killed every day in what has essentially devolved into a civil war.
All across my State, I have heard a strong and clear message from Minnesotans: Change the course in Iraq and push for the strategy and solutions that will bring our troops home. We need a surge in diplomacy, Mr. President, not a surge in troops. It is a message that was echoed all across this country from Montana to Minnesota, from Pennsylvania to Virginia. Unfortunately, there were those in this Chamber yesterday who did not listen to that message, who would prefer no debate. This bipartisan resolution expresses the strong opposition of this body to the President's decision to stay the course and send an additional 21,000 American troops to Iraq. I strongly support this bipartisan resolution and implore my colleagues to allow this resolution its due course.
The people of Minnesota, like their fellow citizens around the country, recognize what is at stake in Iraq. Of the 22,000 troops involved in the surge, nearly 3,000 are from Minnesota. As I have traveled throughout our State, I have spoken with many families who have paid a personal price in this war, and I think of them often.
I think of Claremont Anderson from Hoffman, MN, who would drive hundreds of miles to attend public events in the last 2 years. I just saw him and his wife Nancy this weekend; they braved 7-degree below-zero wind chills to come to an event in Glenwood, MN. When I see Claremont, any time anyone even talks about the war, he starts to cry. That is because his son Stuart, an Army Reserve major, was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.
I think of Kathleen Wosika from St. Paul, MN. Just last month, her son, James Wosika, Jr., was killed while he was patrolling on foot in an area near Fallujah. He was a sergeant with the Army National Guard 1st Brigade, whose current duty will be extended under the President's escalation. Sergeant Wosika was the third member of his unit to die within a 6-month period. He was the seventh member of the brigade to be killed since their deployment last spring.
I also think of Becky Lourey of Kerrick, MN. That is near Duluth. She is a mother of 12 and a former State senator. Her son Matt was killed when the Army helicopter he was piloting went down north of Baghdad. I watched this Gold Star mother, a woman who has adopted eight children, comfort her grandchildren, hold her shaking husband, and stand tall for hours in a high school gym in Finlayson, MN, where hundreds of people came to gather for her son's memorial service.
Claremont Anderson, Kathleen Wosika, and Becky Lourey are parents whose children made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, and they are among the many Minnesotans who told me without apology they want to see a change of course in Iraq. They pray others will not have to experience their pain.
Although I opposed this war from the beginning, I recognized that many did support it. But 4 years later, we are now dealing with a dramatically different situation. What we know now about the events and facts leading up to this war has changed dramatically. The conditions inside Iraq have changed dramatically. Our role there has changed dramatically.
Last November, citizens in Minnesota and across the country voted for a new direction in Washington. Americans made clear at the ballot box they were tired of the politics-as-usual partisan bickering and that they wanted a meaningful and bipartisan change of course in Iraq. To the country's bewilderment, the President responded with a plan to escalate the number of American troops in Iraq. That is not the change in course the American people voted for. It is not the change in course the Iraq Study Group recommended. It is not the change in course Iraq needs to halt its civil war. It is not the change in course our military forces deserve.
Distinguished Senators from both sides of the aisle are seeking ways for this body to bring about the right kind of change. The bipartisan resolution proposes a strategy that recognizes the facts on the ground in Iraq. It incorporates many of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.
For years, we have heard from administration officials, from military officials, and from the Iraqis themselves that there can be no military solution in Iraq. Stability can only be achieved through diplomatic and political solutions. This resolution calls on the administration to engage other nations in the region to create conditions for the compromises between Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds that will be necessary for peace. Furthermore, the resolution calls on the administration to apply pressures on the Iraqis themselves to stand up and take responsibility for their country. By following the recommendations of this resolution, the President would send a much stronger signal to the Iraqis that we are not going to be staying there indefinitely.
As of last Thanksgiving, this war has now lasted longer than World War II, and after nearly 4 years of intensive military involvement in Iraq, including more than 3,000 American deaths, we have to be focused on reducing our troop presence in Iraq instead of putting even more American service men and women in harm's way. Haven't we asked our men and women to sacrifice enough?
Recently, at the funeral for a fallen soldier, I heard a local priest say that our leaders have an obligation to do right by our children when we send them to war. He said that our children may be over 6 feet tall when we send them to war, but they are still our children. ``If the kids we are sending to Iraq are 6 feet tall, he said, ``then our leaders must be 8 feet tall. I would add that if these soldiers are willing to stand up and risk their lives for our country, then those of us in the Congress must be brave enough to stand up and ask the tough questions and push for the tough solutions.
Claremont Anderson, Kathleen Wosika, and Becky Lourey are standing tall. The parents I met with this weekend whose kids are supposed to be coming home this month but are now staying much longer, they are now doing everything to be brave and stand tall. The 400 members of the Air Minnesota National Guard whose deployment ceremony I attended Sunday, in Duluth, MN, they are standing tall. The teenage brother and sister who will see not only their dad but also their mom be deployed in the next 2 weeks, those two kids are standing tall. My friend Senator Webb, who will speak with us momentarily and whose son is serving bravely, he is over there and he is not afraid. He is standing tall. The injured soldiers in the VA hospital in Minnesota recovering from traumatic brain injuries and in their wheelchairs with their strength and their spirit, they too are standing tall.
I would say to my friends across the aisle, by having an honest and open debate on this war and on this resolution, we in Congress can also and finally stand tall.
Our Constitution says that Congress should be a responsible check and balance on Presidential power. Congressional oversight for Iraq policy is long overdue. We have seen this bipartisan resolution and bipartisan work challenging the President's proposal for an escalation of American troop levels in Iraq. Even as Commander In Chief, our President does not enjoy unlimited power. On behalf of the public, Members of this body have a responsibility to exercise our own constitutional power in a fairminded, bipartisan way, to insist on accountability, and to demand a change of course. Ultimately, the best way to help our soldiers and their families is not only to give them the respect they deserve but also to get this policy right.
I hope that my friends across the aisle will see the merits of this resolution and the urgency of having an open and honest debate on this issue; our troops and their families deserve nothing less.
I thank the Chair.
Mr. President. I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from Virginia is recognized.
Jim Webb-D (VA)
I emphasize my support for the resolution—actually, the resolutions—that were so painstakingly put together by a number of senior Senators from both sides of the aisle, only to be denied a full debate and an open vote through the procedural motions yesterday evening.
Winston Churchill once wrote about watching good ideas getting nibbled to death by ducks. Last night, we saw this phenomenon in action. We had before the Senate a measure that would allow this Congress to speak clearly of concerns regarding the woeful lack of leadership by the President on an issue that affects our Nation and our military people such as no other. And the other side—including some Senators who had helped to draft the resolutions and had their names on it--punted the ball down field rather than giving the people of this country the debate they not only need but are calling for in every opinion poll.
Quite simply, there is no way, other than through a strong resolution or restrictive language in an appropriations bill, for this Senate to communicate to this administration that its so-called new strategy is lacking in the most crucial elements that might actually lead to a solution in Iraq. This is not a strategy. It is a one-dimensional tactical adjustment that avoids the elements of a true overarching national strategy. It relies too heavily on our military, while ignoring the overwhelming advice of those with long experience in this region that we must pursue robust diplomacy in order to bring this misguided effort to a conclusion.
There have been allegations by those on the other side that we who take this position are not supporting the troops. I submit that the best way to support the troops would be for this administration to outline and pursue a comprehensive strategy that includes the diplomatic measures that will be essential to ending our involvement.
Mr. President, a reminder: During the Vietnam war our military killed more than a million enemy soldiers—enemy soldiers—by official count of the present Hanoi Government. Actually, that count is 1.4 million enemy soldiers. But without a clear strategy and without adept diplomacy, that simply was not enough. From the very beginning in Iraq, this administration has consciously neglected its proper diplomatic duties. It has attempted to frame the debate over Iraq's future as one of military action on the one hand and a set of vague guidelines to the Iraqi Government on the other, as if the rest of the region were somehow not crucial to the eventual outcome. This, in and of itself, is a recipe for continued violence and for American failure in Iraq.
It is widely known that the Iraqi Government lacks the power to control the myriad of factions that are causing chaos. The latest National Intelligence Estimate not only confirms this, it indicates that these factions have been broken into so many different components that it is not even fair to call this problem one of sectarian violence any longer. The administration knows this. Most of the administration's strongest supporters know this. Their reaction has been to increase the pressure on an impotent government and to go to the well, again and again, asking for even greater sacrifices from the military, while ignoring their most basic responsibility, which is to put together a clear diplomatic effort that will bring full context to the issues that face us and, in short order, end our involvement. This is not supporting the troops. This is misusing the troops.
With respect to the troops, I would caution any political leader who claims to speak on behalf of the political views of our men and women in uniform. Our military people are largely a mirror of our society, particularly in the enlisted ranks, and their political views are as diverse as our own.
As one example, last year, a survey of those in Iraq indicated that more than 70 percent believed that the United States should exit Iraq within a year. That was a year ago. As I have said before, it is inverted logic to claim we should continue to fight this war on behalf of the troops. The fact is, they are fighting this war on behalf of the political process. They deserve political leadership that is knowledgeable and that proceeds from an assumption that our national goals are equal to the sacrifices we are asking them to make.
For the last 5 years, from before this invasion, this administration and its supporters have refused to admit the most fundamental truth of the entire war. It is a truth that was echoed over and over again last month by expert witnesses during more than a dozen hearings before the Foreign Relations Committee and the Committee on Armed Services, both of which I am privileged to serve upon. It is a truth that this administration and the architects of this war too often refuse to recognize, perhaps because they fear it might potentially embarrass them in the eyes of history.
The unavoidable truth is that this war will never be brought to a proper conclusion without the active participation of the other countries in the region—all of them.
We hear stories of the Saudis helping the Sunni insurgency. We are told by this administration Iran is equipping and training portions of the Shia militias. We hear Turkey and Iran are quietly cooperating to limit the influence of Kurds. We hear Syria is the favorite starting point for many al-Qaida guerillas who infiltrate into Al Anbar Province. We know the entire region is being flooded with refugees from the violence in Iraq, including, especially, Jordan and Syria.
None of this is surprising. Indeed, all of it was predictable and predicted, even before the invasion of Iraq. I recall many of the speeches by the Presiding Officer on those points. What is truly surprising and unsettling is that this administration has not developed an overt diplomatic effort to bring order out of this chaos in a way that might allow us to dramatically decrease our presence in Iraq and, at the same time, increase the stability of the region, increase our ability to fight terrorism, and allow us to address strategic challenges elsewhere in the world.
These countries have historic, political, and cultural ties to Iraq. They are going to be involved in Iraq's affairs in the future, long after the United States departs the region. It is in our national interests and, as a great nation, it is our obligation to take the lead in causing each of these countries to deal responsibly with Iraq's chaos and with its future. We did exactly this in 2001, after the invasion of Afghanistan, bringing the major players to the table, including India, Pakistan, and Iran, and we should do so now.
This approach would have additional benefits beyond Iraq. It would begin to loosen the unnatural alliance between Iran and Syria which could, in turn, increase the potential for greater stability in Lebanon, Israel, and the surrounding territories. It would begin to bring countries such as Iran to a proper role of responsibility inside the international community.
On this point, I cite an important historical reference. In 1971, China, similar to Iran today, was considered a rogue Nation. China, in those days, was already a nuclear power. It had an American war on its borders in Vietnam, a war it was actively assisting. We, the United States, took the initiative, aggressively opening China through diplomatic energy and, over time, helped to bring China into the international community. We should not be afraid of taking similar actions with Iran and also, by the way, with Syria.
The bottom line of all this is this administration and its supporters must understand the realities that are causing us as a Congress to finally say "enough is enough;" that the time has come for a new approach; that the answer in Iraq and to our fight against international terrorism and to our diminished posture around the world is for us to show not only our prowess on the battlefield but also our leadership in the diplomatic arena; that, indeed, we have an obligation to the men and women who have served so selflessly on our behalf, to match their proficiency and their loyalties with the kind of thoughtful leadership that will bring this effort to a proper conclusion.
If there were other ways to convince this administration to change its ineffective one-dimensional approach to the situation in Iraq, I would welcome them, but after 5 years of political disarray, I do not believe it is so. I support this resolution as a first step in reclaiming America's strategic purpose and international reputation. I urge my fellow Senators to do the same.
I yield the floor.
The Acting President pro tempore - The Senator from Missouri.
Christopher Bond-R (MO)
Mr. Bond-R, Missouri - Mr. President, I came to the Senate to talk about the loss of a great soldier and dear friend of mine, but before I do that, I will comment on a few things we have heard discussed this morning.
First, our efforts on this side are to get an opportunity to debate and vote on the Gregg amendment. The Gregg amendment, very simply stated—I don't have the full text in front of me—supports our troops. It says we should support our troops and not cut off funding. That is a valid viewpoint. We are at war. Traditionally, this Senate has supported our troops. That used to be the absolute baseline which everyone accepted. The main resolution that has been referred to, I fear, goes in the wrong direction.
We, in time of war, ought to debate, and we will debate fully, and everyone will have an opportunity to express their views--but I think it is very important we not only have an opportunity to vote on the two resolutions which have been discussed but also to vote on the Gregg amendment. As soon as we can get agreement to do that, I am confident the leaders can move forward.
I have also heard in the Senate a number of comments from Members who do not support a cut-and-run policy. I have addressed previously the disaster of an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. In open testimony, the intelligence community—the Director of National Intelligence—the Director of CIA, the Director of Military Intelligence, said chaos would reign in Iraq if we withdrew precipitously. It would fall into chaos. The primary beneficiary of that chaos would be al-Qaida. Osama bin Laden and Al-Jazeera have said how important it was for them to establish Iraq as their main base of operations.
Second, there would be chaos and slaughter of innocent civilians, both Shia and Sunni. There would be a tremendous increase in the deaths of civilians. But even more frightening, the neighboring states would likely be brought in. The Sunni states would likely come to the aid of their Sunni brethren, and if that had not already triggered the entrance of Iran into it on behalf of the Shia, it surely would, and we could potentially be facing a major Middle East conflict with many states involved.
I have heard it said that the Levin-Warner resolution asks we chart a new direction. We have charted a new direction. And the way forward is a new direction. The President has the agreement of Prime Minister al-Maliki and the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish government of Iraq that they will take control and they will assume responsibility. They need help in training particularly their police, but they will take control. That is where we need to be.
We can help pick off the al-Qaida and the other committed international terrorists, the radical Islamists. But we need them to resolve this civil strife between Shia and Sunni, and do so in a fair way, including the Kurds and the Sunnis.
This happens to be the military plan the Baker-Hamilton group supported. They said to enable the Iraqi security, military, and police to take over, we should send in some troops temporarily. That is what the President is doing, adding another 21,000 to support them.
Is this going to work? Well, again, with the release of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and the open testimony of the leaders of the intelligence community, they said it is an open question. It is a tough decision. But it is the best option we have.
Yes, they think there is a chance it will work. And the Iraqi Government knows this is their last best chance. They had best make it work. And they best get their police trained and their military trained.
Many people have called for bringing in other nations in the Middle East. That is what the President and Secretary Rice have done, to bring in other nations that will help rebuild the Sunni areas and help provide support to the Iraqis.
There are some people who say we should not have an unlimited commitment. Well, the President has told not only this Nation but Prime Minister al-Maliki there is a time deadline. We are committed to them but not indefinitely. And if they do not take advantage of this opportunity, it will be their country which will fall into chaos and be the battleground, perhaps embroiling the entire region, but certainly wiping out and causing great death and destruction in their own country. So we do have a new direction.
Now, some are pushing a resolution that challenges the President's implementation of the plan. We are trying to be generals and say General Petraeus—whom we just confirmed unanimously because he is such a great general, who said we should have those 21,000 troops—they are challenging his military judgment in the implementation of the plan.
I know many of my colleagues have followed military policy for many years, but I do not think we in this body can determine for the generals what the proper level of troop commitments is. They are the ones who take responsibility for the lives of their men and women. To send a message by adopting a resolution that says we oppose the President's plan, implementation of his plan, is not going to change sending more American troops there.
But it will tell al-Qaida: Good news, boys, the Congress is opposing the President. Our chances look better to take over the country.
And it will send a message to friendly countries that are trying to help the Iraqis telling them: Sorry guys, we are not interested in winning this, so you probably would not want to waste your effort helping us.
Finally, what does it send as a message to our troops: We do not support the military plan they are being asked to carry out, the men and women who are risking their lives? Does that make any sense? I fear not.
I hope we can reject very soundly the Levin-Warner amendment and adopt the Gregg amendment and also the McCain amendment.
The Acting President pro tempore - Without objection, it is so ordered. The Senate will stand in recess until the appointed hour.
There being no objection, the Senate, at 12:22 p.m., recessed until 3:30 p.m. and reassembled when called to order by the Presiding Officer (Mrs. Murray).
The Presiding Officer - The Senator from California is recognized.
The legislative session of the Senate for February 6, 2007 can be found here and begins with 3:30 p.m. when the Senate reassembled after an extended recess so that a breifing could be given to Senate members on the National Inteligence report. It continues Morning Buisness and starts when called to order by the The Presiding Officer - recognizing the Senator from California.