Our Iraq Policy
I rise as the Chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus. The caucus has 72 members, who for more than a year have been fighting to conclude the war in Iraq and reunite our troops with their families.
Over the weekend the New York Times reported that General Casey met with President Bush to discuss redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq. According to the New York Times, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will decline by two brigades by not replacing two brigades that are currently scheduled to leave Iraq this year. Further reductions in U.S. personnel will occur next year. The number of brigades in Iraq is expected to drop from 14 to about five by the end of 2007. The Casey plan also provides for a brigade to be kept on alert in Kuwait ``in case American commanders need to augment their forces to deal with a crisis. Another brigade will be kept on a lesser state of alert elsewhere but still prepared to deploy quickly.'' According to the Times, carrying out the terms of this plan depends on developments on the ground in Iraq.
Now, why don't we just tell it like it is? This is basically the Murtha plan. This plan is so similar to a plan that the Out of Iraq Caucus has been pushing since late last year, the Murtha plan, H.J. Res. 73.
Under Congressman Murtha's plan, no additional U.S. troops will be sent to Iraq and the U.S. troops now deployed in Iraq will be redeployed out of Iraq at a point determined by U.S. generals in Iraq, which is very similar to the plan outlined by General Casey. The Murtha resolution also calls for a contingent of marines to remain in the Middle East to respond to threats that threaten to destablize our allies in the region or the national security of the United States, again mirroring the Casey plan.
Finally, the resolution calls for the United States to pursue security and stability in Iraq through diplomacy. Again, the Times reports that the General Casey plan is to engage the Iraqi Government to develop a plan to turn security over to the Iraqis.
With nearly identical parameters, it appears that the administration proposes to carry out a plan that has already been introduced, debated, pushed by Mr. Murtha himself and by the Out of Iraq Caucus and many members of this Democratic caucus. It is confusing to understand why then there was such outrage from the Republicans during the debate of H. Res. 861 two weeks ago during which members of the Out of Iraq Caucus called for all Members of Congress to support the Murtha plan. The only conclusion is that the Republicans are again playing politics with the safety of our Nation.
Instead of holding a free and open debate on Iraq, they crafted a resolution, H. Res. 861, to intentionally mislead the American people and seize an opportunity to attack Democrats who want accountability for those who led the march to war in Iraq. Democrats are also demanding that the President provide a clear plan that will allow for the redeployment of U.S. troops and permit them to return home to their loved ones.
The Out of Iraq Caucus can support the proposed Casey plan. It is our plan. It is the Murtha plan. It is the plan that we have been pushing all along. Their plan we do not disagree with. We just wanted them to have some leadership. They had made so many mistakes, so many mishaps, as Condoleezza Rice called it, that we kept urging them to come up with a plan. We are glad they have adopted the Murtha plan.
According to news reports, the implementation of this plan will begin just prior to the November elections. The next step will be completed as the 2008 Presidential elections are heating up, providing the President an opportunity to claim progress despite more than 3 years of mismanagement and incompetence.
Mr. Speaker, this war was mismanaged by this administration. The men and women in uniform have paid for that mismanagement, more than 2,500 with their own lives. It is long past time to bring our troops home, and I will not rest until our service men and women are able to return home to their loved ones.
Be clear. We are glad that Mr. Casey and the President have come up with what we have been advocating. We are glad that they have seen the light of day. We are pleased that they understand that the American people want real leadership and they want an end to this war, they want the troops home. So while we know that it may be calculated in a political way to time with the November elections and all that, we still support it. I do, and the Out of Iraq Caucus will certainly embrace it because, again, it is our plan.
When Mr. Murtha talked about over the horizon, that is exactly what he was talking about, the same thing the Casey plan has come up with: keep some soldiers in the region just in case they are needed in a crisis.
So thank you, Mr. Casey and Mr. President, for finally embracing the Democrat plan by Mr. Murtha that calls for redeployment. It has been misinterpreted, misidentified. Even the press got it wrong, and they tried to say that the Murtha plan was demanding that our troops get out immediately. It has never been that.
Now I want to see how the press will interpret the Casey plan, if the press will understand and report that it is the Murtha plan.
I will say it over and over again. I am pleased and proud that the President and Mr. Casey at least have come to the point, for whatever reasons, whatever their motivations are, to embrace something that will work, the Murtha plan.