U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after joining as an original cosponsor with U.S. Senator George Voinovich, R-Ohio, to a proposal that would transition the U.S. military’s mission in Iraq from combat to support roles in the hopes of reaching a bipartisan consensus in the Senate on Iraq:
"Our amendment uses the reports of General Petraeus and General Jones to update the bipartisan recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. It sets a goal -- not a deadline -- for transitioning our mission in Iraq to a diminishing and more limited role within 15 months. It would start bringing some troops home within three months. The country is ready for our government to speak with one voice on Iraq. I hope the Democratic leadership and President Bush recognize the potential this Voinovich-Alexander amendment has for a consensus in the Senate. It is inexcusable for the Senate to keep lecturing Baghdad about being in a political stalemate when we continue to be stuck in our own political stalemate on Iraq. I’m also the principle sponsor of legislation with Democratic Senator Ken Salazar that would implement the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group report, and this includes 17 cosponsors in the Senate -- nine Democrats and eight Republicans -- as well as 61 cosponsors in the House, including 26 Democrats.”
The Voinovich-Alexander Amendment would:
· Mandate a draw down in forces beginning within 90 days of enactment, which is consistent with General Petraeus’ goal of bringing home some forces by Christmas.
· Define the limited mission that our forces would continue to have after a transition is complete, including supporting, equipping and training Iraqis, counterterrorism, force protection and border security, intelligence sharing and supporting civilian provincial reconstruction teams.
· Set a 15-month goal for completing the transition of mission. This is based on the Iraq Study Group recommendations, published in December 2006, that suggested a transition could be completed 15 months later in March 2008.
· Require reports on Iraq every 90 days to Congress so that Congress can perform its oversight duties more effectively.
U.S. Senators Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and Norm Coleman, R- Minn., have also signed onto the proposal as original cosponsors. Alexander is also an original sponsor of legislation with U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, D-Col., that would make the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommendations the basis for future U.S. strategy in Iraq.
The Voinovich-Alexander Amendment would amend H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which is currently pending before the Senate.