Later today, the Senate is expected to vote on the 2007 Emergency Supplemental -- the Iraq War funding bill -- and I wanted to take a moment to explain to you why I will be voting against this flawed bill.
There is much that I support in this bill -- including assistance for Afghanistan and funding we added to help the National Guard address equipment shortages -- but it contains a serious flaw that I simply cannot vote for: It does not begin the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.
The original supplemental bill that passed the Senate and was sent to President Bush's desk last month paralleled the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, recommendations that would have fundamentally changed the course of our military mission in Iraq.
Unfortunately, the President vetoed the original supplemental bill and has refused any meaningful compromise that would give us a clear path toward ending of our military involvement in Iraq.
This brings us to the current version of the supplemental bill. In short, the Iraq War funding provisions in this bill represent little more than a continuation of the failed status quo -- a continuation that I find unacceptable. The current bill will not begin to redeploy our troops from Iraq, it does not put adequate pressure on the Iraqis to stand up both politically and militarily, and it does not put a stop to President Bush's escalation plan.
While the legislation sets benchmarks for the Iraqi government to follow toward reconciling the country's various political factions, these benchmarks can be waived by the President at his discretion. These benchmarks are a move in the right direction but they are far from adequate.
As long as the Iraqi government believes American troops will always be there, they'll have little reason to make the tough choices that need to be made. And this supplemental bill does little to change this dynamic.
Our engagement in Iraq has been a foreign policy failure of epic proportions. Not only have thousands of Americans lost their lives, tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have as well. Our standing in the world has been diminished, and our weakened influence in the region has compromised our ability to fight terrorism throughout the world.
Clearly, it is time to bring our troops home, and I am disappointed that President Bush vetoed the first bill that would have done just that. Since this new supplemental does not begin the withdrawal of our troops -- while providing tens of billions more dollars in taxpayer money for the President's failed policy -- I cannot in good conscience vote for it.