Eight Senators – four Democrats and four Republicans – today introduced legislation that would make the Iraq Study Group recommendations the basis for future U.S. strategy in Iraq.
Senators Alexander and Salazar were joined by a bipartisan coalition of their colleagues, including Senators Bob Bennett (R-UT), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Robert Casey (D-PA), John Sununu (R-NH) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), in introducing the ‘Iraq Study Group (ISG) Recommendations Implementation Act of 2007.’
“For the sake of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq and their families, Washington needs to put aside partisan sniping and reach across party lines to agree on a way forward in Iraq,” said Alexander. “The Iraq Study Group report is a strategy for tomorrow. It offers a reasonable solution for getting out of the combat business in Iraq and into the support, equipping and training business in a prompt and honorable way.”
“We are gaining momentum on our bipartisan effort to implement the recommendations developed by some of America’s most thoughtful and experienced leaders on our future strategy in Iraq,” said Salazar. “I am proud to sponsor this legislation with my Republican and Democratic colleagues. The American people expect us to find a solution to the situation in Iraq; this legislation sets us on the right track diplomatically, economically and militarily to do so.”
“The legislation we are offering will give the president and Congress new opportunities to work together to find solutions for a more stable Iraq. The Iraq Study Group performed a thorough analysis of the situation in Iraq, and this bill reflects the bipartisan support for their recommendations,” said Bennett. “I am honored to join with my friends on both sides of the aisle as we work toward progress in Iraq."
“Every day our troops work as a team in the field to achieve their mission. Congress and the President must do the same,” Pryor said. “This strategy helps stabilize the region, holds the Iraqis accountable for progress, and turns over responsibility to the Iraqis so American troops can come home.”
“The Iraq Study Group Implementation Act of 2007 helps chart a responsible path forward and it does so in a way that prizes serious, thoughtful policy over partisan rhetoric,” said Gregg. “The report lays out a comprehensive plan that was forged out of consensus and one that can change the political climate here in Congress.”
“A majority of the Congress have made clear their desire to change course in Iraq. I supported the provisions to transition the mission in Iraq contained in the supplemental spending bill vetoed by the President,” said Casey. “Yet, unless we achieve more bipartisan consensus in the Congress that a change is necessary, an impasse will continue. It is for that reason that I believe the Iraq Study Group’s prescribed course of action represents our best hope for a new way forward in Iraq.”
“This legislation focuses on improving the security situation in Iraq while moving toward the withdrawal of combat forces,” said Senator John Sununu, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Guided by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group Report, which I endorsed upon its release last year, the bill provides a realistic approach to achieving reconciliation and stability within the Iraqi government, maintaining sovereign Iraqi borders, and ending sectarian violence. No American serviceman or woman should remain in Iraq a day longer than is absolutely necessary. This legislation takes an important step toward improving conditions so that a stable, democratic, and prosperous Iraq may emerge.”
“Americans are exhausted by continuous accounts of violence and frustrated by news that the Iraqi government has failed to take more responsibility for its own future,” Lincoln said. “It is clear that our open-ended commitment in Iraq is not working, and the Iraq Study Group’s report offers critical guidance for a much-needed new direction.”
Former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III and former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Lee H. Hamilton co-chaired the December report that seeks to bring a responsible conclusion to the Iraq War. Both Mr. Baker and Mr. Hamilton have confirmed that the legislation accurately reflects the recommendations of the ISG report.
Salazar and Alexander’s 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 U. S. military;
· Accelerating and increasing oil production and accountability, including equitable distribution of oil revenues in Iraq;
· Implementing and conducting 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 U.S. combat brigades not needed for force protection as early as the first quarter of 2008 if diplomatic, infrastructure and security benchmarks are met.
In the House, a companion bill will be introduced by Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) and co-sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Mike McCaul (R-TX) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL).
President Bush, while speaking at the Associated General Contractors of America Convention in May, said the United States should, “seriously consider the recommendations of the ISG.”