Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Bob Bennett (R-UT), Robert Casey (D-PA), and Judd Gregg (R-NH) announced this morning on the Senate floor 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 last week by Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), is expected to be introduced in early June.
Draft text of the legislation can be viewed here.
“Partisan votes will not end this war and neither will the President’s refusal to provide an exit strategy to the American people. This gamesmanship is not helpful to our soldiers and their families,” Pryor said. “I am proud to be a part of Senators Salazar’s and Alexander’s constructive dialogue to find common ground. This strategy we hope will move Iraq to a path of self-sufficiency and hold Iraqis accountable for progress so American troops can come home.”
“Given the current situation in Iraq and my briefings with General Petraeus, I believe now is the time for Congress to act and implement the study group’s recommendations,” said Bennett. “The administration is working with the Iraqi government and engaging its neighbors to determine the next steps toward a peaceful resolution, and this bipartisan legislation will only help to augment their efforts.”
“Coming from a state that has lost the third highest number of troops in Iraq, the urgency to change course in Iraq is clear,” said Casey. “The Iraq Study Group recommendations are the product of an expert and bipartisan review. Today, we aim to revive that same spirit by seeking to implement these commonsense policies.”
“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 and lead to an acceptable end to the Iraq war.”
“The Iraq Study Group’s recommendations offer a bipartisan way forward for our nation in Iraq,” said Salazar. “The fact that we have been joined by Senators from both sides of the aisle shows that there is growing support in the Senate to provide a new and responsible approach that emphasizes diplomacy and transitions our military mission in Iraq from combat to support.”
“We need a political solution in Washington, DC, as much as we need one in Baghdad,” said Alexander. “These four senators – two Democrats and two Republicans – move us one step closer in that direction.”
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.