Jul 12, 2007
“Let me thank my colleague from California for yielding and thank all of the members for what has really been a very serious debate about our efforts in Iraq.
“When we think about what we went through this past spring, the fight over funding our troops that went on for about 112 days here in the house, I thought that we had come to some resolution. 48 Days ago we sent to the President of the United States a bill passed by this House, passed by the Senate and signed into law that would fund our troops through the end of September. In that same bill we asked General Petraeus to report back to the congress on July 15 his interim report and asked him to give a more complete report by September 15 of this year. And here we are some 48 days later, saying, we give up.
“One can only imagine why this bill is on the floor today. If members were serious about this bill, we would have seen it come through committee, come through the rules committee. No. No. This bill showed up Tuesday night, about 9:00, out of thin air, that we were going to have this debate this week. One can only look at what's happening on the floor of the house and describe it as a partisan political stunt, because that's exactly what it is. This house voted to support our troops, to fund our troops and to fund our efforts in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And here we are once again, back here, posing for holy pictures, as our good friend from Wisconsin would say.
“This bill that we have before us makes our troops pawns in a partisan political battle. I don't think that's what anyone wants. I think this bill on the floor today undermines General Petraeus and undermines the mission he has to help make Iraq and America safe. What we have here is not leadership, it's negligence.
“My colleague, the majority leader, my friend from Maryland and the Speaker of the House, both say, we want to fight the terrorists. We want to fight them where they are. Well, who is our biggest enemy in Iraq today? Who is the biggest fight we have in Iraq today? It's al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is losing and that's why we see the bigger bombs going off, the bigger demonstrations, the bigger casualties because they're losing and trying to influence public opinion here in the United States.
“But what surprises me about what we're doing here today is the willful ignoring of the consequences of failure in Iraq. If we fail in Iraq, we know what happens, we make America less safe. We know that we'll provide a safe haven for al Qaeda to operate around the world out of their new safe haven that they'll have in Iraq. We'll destabilize the Middle East, we'll endanger Israel, we'll embolden the Iranians even more than they have already been emboldened, and we'll allow al Qaeda to be stronger and to be able to recruit more people to kill Americans and our allies around the world. These are serious consequences for the American people and our allies around the world, and we can't shrink from our responsibility here.
“General Petraeus is making progress, not as much progress as we would all like for him to make, but he's making progress on the ground as reported today. The Iraqi government has made some progress, not nearly enough. But to just pull the rug out from under General Petraeus, to pull the rug out from our troops who are in Iraq fighting for our freedom and the freedom of the Iraqi people at this moment is absolutely the most negligent action I have seen this House take yet on this issue.
“Why can't we sit back and allow General Petraeus plan have a chance to succeed? Why can't we wait until September 15 as we have all agreed, for his final report to come forward and to assess the progress that's being made and what, if any, new direction ought to be taken? I believe and I think the American people believe that we ought to allow the generals on the ground in Iraq to make those decisions and not the politicians make decisions about our future and our safety.
“While we're here debating this meaningless bill we have before us, we could be acting on serious legislation to help make America safer. There's a giant loophole that terrorist surveillance program and other agencies the ability to track these terrorists activities and these terrorist phone calls and information movement that we know today that we can't touch and we can't use?
“We all know that the reports over the last couple of days that al Qaeda has increased in its strength. We also know from news reports over the last couple of days is that there has been increasing chatter amongst terrorists around the world. And yet, here we are debating a meaningless bill that undermines our troops and ignoring the fact that there's information that could help keep America safer that we can't touch because this house will not act. I think that is negligent and I think it's irresponsible.
“I would urge my colleagues to let's let General Petraeus and the troops a chance to succeed. Let's help them in their mission to help make Iraq safer and America safer. And the way we do that is to take this bill we have before us and defeat it.”