In an effort to continue toward a new way forward in Iraq, United States Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), George Voinovich (R-OH), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), and Jim Webb (D-VA) introduced a bill that would require a report on the status of redeployment planning from the Administration. The bipartisan bill requires the Department of Defense to provide its report within 60 days to congressional defense committees, with updated reports every 90 days thereafter.
The bill is identical to bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Representatives John Tanner (D-TN), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), and Phil English, (R-PA) that passed the House this week in a 377 to 46 vote.
“We must all work together to find a new way forward in Iraq and this bill is an important first step,” said Senator Salazar. “This is a substantive and bipartisan effort to work together to bring a responsible and timely redeployment of our troops. The men and women that are fighting this war in our name deserve no less.”
“Both this bill and our Iraq Study Group legislation ask the administration for a plan on how to shift gears and get our troops out of the combat business and into the support, training, and equipping business,” said Senator Alexander. “Both bills also allow our government to speak with one voice going forward in Iraq – which our troops deserve and the enemy needs to hear.”
“I have been asking the President for more than four years to develop a strategy to bring our troops home.” Senator Pryor said. “I am proud to be part of this bipartisan approach that finds common ground and moves Congress past partisanship and towards progress.”
“The vitriolic partisan debate in Washington has not been conducive to finding a solution that will change the course in Iraq,” said Senator Collins. “I have long maintained that our country needs a new direction in Iraq that sets the stage for a significant but responsible drawdown of our combat troops and that encourages a lasting political solution to the sectarian violence engulfing Baghdad. I am pleased to join this bipartisan group of my colleagues on this legislation, and it is my hope that this bill will continue to gain bipartisan support.”
"The roots of the many problems facing our men and women serving in Iraq were planted by the failure of this Administration to develop sound, realistic plans. We cannot afford to repeat the same mistake when our forces redeploy," said Senator Clinton. "Redeploying out of Iraq will be difficult and requires careful planning. The Administration must provide a redeployment strategy that will keep our brave men and women safe as they leave Iraq."
“Conducting oversight of the government, the administration and the war is not only our responsibility – it is our duty,” Senator Voinovich said. “This bill allows us to fulfill that duty.”
“I firmly believe that we must find common ground on a set of shared principles and work to bring our troops home as soon as possible, consistent with the security assessment of General Petraeus,” said Senator Dole. “This bipartisan measure is a positive step forward. The American people and the Iraqi government need to know that that our commitment in Iraq is not open ended. It is my hope that by next spring, units not withdrawn from Iraq could be reassigned to border security, training and support roles.”
“I’m pleased to support this renewed bipartisan call for the Department of Defense to meet its Constitutional requirement of conferring with Congress on the status of its redeployment planning,” said Senator Webb.
The bill would require the Secretary of Defense to provide a plan to Congress on troop missions and levels in Iraq, including a drawdown to a more limited mission that the Secretary would specify. The Senators said the bill ensures more Congressional oversight of our strategy in Iraq and it represents a bipartisan approach toward greater accountability over the Pentagon’s next steps.
The legislation also:
· Recognizes that the U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. civilians have worked valiantly, and that it is time for Iraq to manage its own future;
· Notes that when Congress authorized military force in 2002, it was concerned about an Iraqi government that has since been removed from power;
· States that the new, freely-elected Iraqi government poses no threat to the United States;
· Gives the Secretary of Defense 60 days to provide a report on the status of planning for the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq;
· Asks the Secretary to specify the possible timetable for the redeployment of U.S. troops not needed for the new, more limited mission;
· Does not set any specific deadlines for troop movements.
Should the Senate consider and pass this legislation without making further changes, it would proceed to the White House for the President’s signature or veto.