The Time is Now: Stand Up to Republicans on Iraq

(Please welcome Senator Tom Harkin to Bleeding Heartland. Leave him some comments and let him know that you'll help him out. - promoted by Chris Woods)

As many in the progressive blogosphere are already  aware, the Senate has been debating the National Defense Authorization Act,  which will set military policy for the coming fiscal year.  My Democratic  colleagues and I – as well as a few but growing number of Republicans – are  determined to take this opportunity to demand fairer treatment of our troops and  force President Bush to listen to the will of the American people and change  course in the war in Iraq.

Yesterday, the first amendment to the defense bill was  authored by Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.  Senator Webb’s troop-protection  amendment would have required that active-duty troops receive as much time at  home – recuperating and retraining – as they spend in combat, while giving the  president the authority to waive these requirements if additional troops are  needed in an emergency.

I was proud to co-sponsor Senator Webb’s legislation  because I felt that it was time to bring the systematic abuse of our  re-deploying troops to an end. It is simply unacceptable that our troops are  being deprived of the time that they need to recover from combat, complete  additional training, and spend precious time with their families. Senator Webb’s  bill would have gone a long way toward restoring our military’s readiness by  giving our brave and courageous service men and women an established amount of  time between deployments to protect their mental and physical well-being while  providing some stability and predictability for their families.

This is exactly the type of amendment that should have  drawn strong, bipartisan support. Unfortunately, many Republicans in the Senate  would rather continue to beat to the drum of Karl Rove in support of President  Bush’s failed policies in Iraq by filibustering and killing  Senator Webb’s amendment.

Today the Administration released the progress report on  Iraq, which shows there is mixed  progress by the Iraqi government in meeting political benchmarks and  little-to-no progress in quelling Iraqi sectarian violence.  This report comes  on the heels of several other reports and statements by U.S. officials showing that Al-Qaeda has  strengthened and has become bolder in its attempts to strike the  United States as a direct  result of our occupation in Iraq.

All of this despite the facts from the Congressional Research Service that show the war in Iraq is now costing us over $10 billion a  month, despite our military leaders stating that the our troops are worn down,  and despite recent polls that show that over 71% of the American people favor  removing all U.S. Troops from Iraq by April 1 of next year. 

The time for a change in direction in Iraq is  now.

That is why I am cosponsoring an amendment by Senators  Carl Levin and Jack Reed that would begin troop withdrawal within 120 days and  redeploy most combat troops by next April. However, the Republicans have made it  clear that they will filibuster this amendment just as they filibustered Senator  Webb’s troop-protection bill, and the White House has already threatened to veto  the National Defense Authorization Act if this amendment is included. The  Republican Party is stubbornly supporting the failed policies of President Bush  while ignoring the will of the American people, the safety of our troops, and  our nation’s national security to the point that I believe “GOP” now stands for  “Grand Obstructionist Party”.

The choice is now clear. You either side with the  President and his failed policies, or you side with the American people and our  military commanders who have concluded that there is no military solution to the  mess in Iraq. You either support this  endless, pointless war, or you support a smarter, more focused campaign against  the terrorists who truly threaten us.

I know where all of you stand and I need your help to  move America forward.

Now more than ever we need the progressive blogosphere  to do what they do best—to rally around those that support a change of course in  Iraq and to call out those who would  rather follow the orders of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney than the voice of the  American people.

I also hope that you will sign up for email updates on  this important issue on my new campaign website at www.tomharkin.com so that I can keep you  updated on our campaign for a smarter course of action in the war in Iraq and  the war on terror.

With your help, I am confident that more Republicans  will join us in the days and weeks ahead and we will prevail in bringing the  Iraq war to an end.

Thank you for your support,

Sen. Tom Harkin

  • Thanks!

    Thanks for posting here on BH, Sen. Harkin.  Welcome and come back often!

  • thanks for posting this

    I appreciate your leadership on this issue, Senator Harkin.

    On a different topic, my four-year-old got fresh fruit snacks instead of junk food at his pre-school (operated by the Des Moines Public Schools) thanks to the federal program you pushed for. Thanks for that as well!

  • Go get 'em Tom!

    All the other Toms are behind you!

    (except Tom Latham) 

  • An up or down vote?

    Thanks Senator Harkin. I know you're working hard out there to change course on this disastrous war, and I appreciate you commenting here at Bleeding Heartland.

    But why have I stopped hearing that phrase, "up or down vote" now that Democrats are in power? Before Nov. 2006, any time the Democrats even talked about filibustering, Republicans would complain about the need for an up or down vote. Why aren't Democrats now clamoring for that? I don't support the "nuclear option" but I think Democrats are doing an awful job–just awful–of demonstrating to the American people the GOP's obstructionism.

    Bring back the call for an "up or down vote." It's got a great ring to it and the media loves it.

    • Excellent point

      about the "up & down vote."  Since R's are such good sloganeers, we should use their own effective rhetoric against them.  The reality is, voters are not upset with the agenda of the D Congress.  They are upset with D's inability to pass their agenda.  Thus, voters' outrage should be directed against W and R's in Congress.

    • re: an up or down vote

       

      Ben-

      Your suggestion is an excellent one and I think we are all in agreement that we as Democrats need to do a better job of explaining to the American people how Republicans are using all the procedural tools available in the U.S. Senate to prevent us from passing bills to move America forward. 

      On Senator Webb's troop-protection amendment, Democrats in the Senate did make the Republicans filibuster. Senator Reid filed cloture on the amendment, Democrats voted to end debate and Republicans voted to block us from moving America forward.

      So you are exactly right, the Republicans blocked us from having an up-or-down vote. That is why Senator Harkin wanted to reach out to Iowa and National bloggers by posting his thoughts on BleedingHeartland.com and shortly thereafter, on MyDD.com.

      However, we should be more clear when talking to the American people about what happened and hopefully that is where bloggers like you come in!

       -Ryan 

       

       

  • two questions

    Senator,

    I think the Webb amendment would have been very popular.  Why don't the Democrats keep

    the issue on the floor and make the Rs actually filibuster, instead of capitulating at the first 

    failed cloture vote?

     

    Alternatively, why not send the bill back to committee and attach the Webb amendment there?  

    Then let the Rs try to strike it on the floor. 

  • How can Republicans say they support the troops and then vote down the Webb ammendment?

    How can Republicans say they support the troops and then vote down the Webb ammendment? 

    Thanks for posting Sen. Harkin and keep up the good work.

  • Wearing out your welcome?

    Senator Harkin,

     Where did you go?  Was this just another place to put your press release, or do you know how blogs and diaries usually work?

     Why not actually make them filibuster?  I'm not the only one who wonders.

     Why not send the bill back to committee where you do have control over it? 

    • Answer to your question

      IowaVoter-

      We apologize for the delay in getting answers to you on these very important questions, as you can imagine things have been rather busy lately. 

      The Republicans did filibuster the Webb amendment and Senator Reid filed a cloture petition for that very reason–to attempt to end the Republican filibuster on troop readiness. 

      Unfortunately, we didn't have the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster. Senator Harkin cares deeply about this issue and is working with the Democratic leadership to end Republican obstructionism, protect our troops, and end the war in Iraq. 

      I would also like to assure you that we are doing everything we can to make this as interactive a process as possible and we will be launching some great new innovative features on TomHarkin.com in the next few months with that goal in mind. 

       -Ryan  

       

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