The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act Establishes Date For Withdrawal
WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn today commented on the House's progress on an emergency war time spending request by President Bush. The legislation was announced today at a press conference with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chairmen David Obey, John Murtha and Ike Skelton.
"We've just begun our third month as the majority party in Congress and already we are making changes on the issue of Iraq. We've held 81 oversight hearings on the issue, and we passed legislation opposing the President's escalation plan. We believe that the best plan in Iraq a political and diplomatic surge not a military surge. We believe it is best to redeploy our troops out of the red zone, and out of the middle of a civil war. We believe our efforts should be focused on diplomatic efforts, counterterrorism operations, and training of Iraqi Security Forces. Most of all, we believe we must refocus our resources on the larger war on terror and the escalating violence in Afghanistan.
"Today we offer our next step, a carefully crafted emergency war time spending bill that, for the first time, puts benchmarks and timelines in place to require Iraqis to take control of Iraq, and establishes a process to begin our withdrawal from Iraq. It also provides funding to fight the resurgence of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The key to this legislation, however, are the measures that provide equipment and resources for our military on the ground, and funding for the Veterans Administration to care for our soldiers who served so honorably."
Below is a summary of the legislation:
U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act
* The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act will provide our troops with the equipment they need, require Iraqis to take control of their own country, help fight the war on terror, and establish a date for withdrawal from Iraq.
1. Giving Our Troops the Equipment They Need, Taking Care of Our Veterans
* The bill fully supports our troops and ensures they have the tools and resources they need to do the job they have been asked to do.
* The legislation prohibits the deployment of troops who are not "fully mission capable" as defined by the Department of Defense - in other words, troops who are fully trained, equipped and protected. This is a reaffirmation of current Department of Defense standards.
* The President can only deploy "unprepared troops" if he certifies, in writing, to Congress, that deploying those troops is in the national interest.
* The bill provides funding so the Veterans Administration can meet the obligations of a new generation of veterans.
2. It's Time for Iraqis to Take Control of Iraq
* The bill requires the Iraqi government to meet the key security, political and economic benchmarks established by the President in his January 10 address.
* The Iraqis failure to meet these benchmarks will mean the beginning of U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and will restrict economic aid to the Iraqis.
3. Real Benchmarks, Real Consequences, and a Strategy for Withdrawal
* If progress toward meeting key benchmarks is not made by July 1, 2007, a redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq begins immediately and must be completed within 180 days.
* If key benchmarks are not met by October 1, 2007, a redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq begins immediately and must be completed within 180 days.
* Regardless of success, Iraqis must own Iraq. A redeployment of U.S. troops must begin by no later than March 1, 2008, and be completed within 180 days.
* Following redeployment, U.S. troops remaining in Iraq may only be used for diplomatic protection, counterterrorism operations, and training of Iraqi Security Forces.
4. Refocusing the War on Terror Against Al-Qaeda and in Afghanistan
* Al Qaeda is reconstituting, and the Taliban has grown stronger in Afghanistan.
* The bill significantly increases funding to defeat al Qaeda and terrorists in Afghanistan.