Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and John Sununu (R-NH) today announced that they will join in offering legislation next month to make the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) official U.S. policy. The Iraq Study Group Recommendations Implementation Act of 2007, announced earlier this month by Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), is expected to be introduced in early June. The addition of these two senators brings the total number of cosponsors to eight – four Democrats and four Republicans.
Draft text of the legislation can be viewed here.
"The Iraq Study Group’s report offers critical guidance that we should embrace as we seek a new direction in Iraq," Lincoln said. "The recommendations reinforce the fact that we must not continue our open-ended commitment and that real progress ultimately lies with the Iraqis. The ISG’s work is an example of bipartisanship at its best, and I am pleased to join a bipartisan group of Senators in advocating for its policies.”
“Last December, I argued that the Iraq Study Group Report offered a clear path to improve security, transfer responsibility to the Iraqi Government, and begin the withdrawal of combat forces,” said Sununu. “Endorsing its recommendations, I noted that the report provides a clear opportunity to re-evaluate the tactics employed in this fight, as well as our relationships with other countries in the region. The same is true today. This initiative provides an important approach to achieving reconciliation and stability with the Iraqi Government; sovereign borders for Iraq and its neighbors; and an end to sectarian violence that has escalated through the past year.”
“At the end of the day, Congress owes it to the men and women who are on the ground in Iraq to try to find a common way forward – the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group do just that,” said Senator Salazar. “I welcome my colleagues, Senators Lincoln and Sununu, to the growing number of Republicans and Democrats supporting our Iraq Study Group Recommendations Implementation Act of 2007.”
“We need a political solution in Washington, DC, as much as we need one in Baghdad,” said Alexander. “These two senators – one Democrat and one Republican – bring us even closer to that goal because eight senators now agree on a bipartisan path forward in Iraq. I hope more will join us before we introduce this legislation in June and that the president will embrace it.”
Other cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bob Bennett (R-UT), Robert Casey (D-PA), and Judd Gregg (R-NH).
The ISG was created in March of 2006 at the request of a bipartisan group of members of Congress and was co-chaired by former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III and former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Lee H. Hamilton. The ISG released their recommendations in December of 2006 that built a bipartisan approach to bring a responsible conclusion to the Iraq war. Specifically the bill sets a ‘new way forward’ by establishing as United States policy:
· A new diplomatic offensive in the region that includes the creation of the Iraq International Support Group;
· Giving the highest priority to training, equipping and advising the Iraqi military and security forces;
· Assessing the full budgetary and personnel impact of the war in Iraq on the United States Military;
· Accelerating and increasing oil production and accountability including equitable distribution of oil revenues in Iraq;
· Implementing and oversight of economic reconstruction programs in Iraq with the creation of a new Senior Advisor for Economic Reconstruction;
· Ensuring that the President includes the cost of the war in his annual budget request; and
· Setting conditions that could lead to redeployment of United States combat brigades not needed for force protection as early as the first quarter of 2008 if diplomatic, infrastructure and security benchmarks are met.