Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) announced on Wednesday that he will continue his efforts to bring American troops home from Iraq and that he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will once again bring the Feingold-Reid bill to the Senate floor as an amendment to the upcoming Defense Department authorization legislation, which is expected to be considered by the end of June.
The Feingold-Reid measure, which received 29 votes when it was first raised last month, would require troops in Iraq to be redeployed by March 31, 2008, after which funding for ongoing military operations, with three narrow exceptions, would end.
"Congress took a step backwards last month when it gave President Bush a blank check to continue his open-ended mission in Iraq," Feingold said. "We need to keep the pressure on the President and supporters of his disastrous Iraq policy, and the way to do this is by voting on legislation that will end the mistake in Iraq."
"We should not wait until September to change course, as some have suggested, and we should not be satisfied with proposals that sound good but won't actually end the war. The way to end this disastrous war is to pass the Feingold-Reid legislation to safely redeploy our troops. No more Americans should die unnecessarily for a war that has over-burdened our military and weakened our national security."
And speaking on the Senate floor on Tuesday, the Wisconsin Senator paid tribute to the 3,500 military men and women who have been killed in Iraq and the 26,000 who have been wounded, while pointing out that they did not sign up to serve their country by policing a civil war having nothing whatsoever to do with United States security.
"These brave men and women signed up to defend their country, not to police an Iraqi civil war," said Feingold. "Many of these individuals chose to join the Armed Forces as a result of the horrific attacks of September 11. Yet they have found themselves fighting in a country that had nothing to do with those attacks. As they endure untold hardship in Iraq, al-Qaida and its extremist network are rebuilding in Afghanistan, northern Africa and around the globe."
And Feingold invoked the responsibility of elected officials in Washington to keep faith with U.S. troops operating under false pretenses and with no clear mission.
"We have a duty to ensure that when they are asked to fight on our behalf, it is not on the basis of false premises and shifting rationales. We have a duty not to put them in harm's way when there is no exit strategy. Most importantly, we have a duty to bring them home because we know there is no military solution to the war they are fighting."
Feingold also took direct aim at his Republican colleagues who claim that Senate Democrats will harm the troops in their efforts to shift funding away from Iraq and toward military endeavors that will actually make America more secure and quoted Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, who recently told Congress that "There would not be one penny less for benefits of the troops" and "there would not be one penny less for supplies or support."
"As this testimony makes clear, claims that ending funding for the war would cut off resources for the troops and leave them stranded on the battlefield are simply false," said Feingold. "The safety of our servicemen and women in Iraq is paramount, and Feingold-Reid focuses on just that the safe redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq."
And more than anything, Feingold made clear that he's not backing off on his effort to end U.S. involvement in the Iraq debacle.
"Many soldiers serving in Iraq have written to me to express their support for my efforts to end this war," he said. "It is with them in mind that I will continue working to end this tragic mistake."
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