U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted in favor of the revised Iraq Accountability Act, which passed the House of Representatives tonight by a vote of 221 to 205.
“We need a new direction in Iraq. The President has placed roughly 160,000 of our troops in a highly vulnerable position – refereeing a civil war – while the various factions in Iraq have not made adequate progress toward reconciliation. The needed political reconciliation among these groups will not happen until we make it clear to the Iraqis that our occupation is coming to an end,” Smith said.
Immediately prior to the vote in favor of the Iraq Accountability Act, Smith voted for a measure to redeploy our service members even earlier – 9 months from the date of the bill’s enactment. Both measures would allow for the redeployment of our troops to allow them to focus on missions vital to our national security such as counterterrorism operations. Smith explained that his support for both measures stemmed from a continued concern that the Bush Administration’s failed policies in Iraq undermine our pursuit of al-Qaeda:
“We have every indication that al-Qaeda is resurgent in Pakistan, that Bin Laden finds himself stronger than ever, and that until we direct our full attention to stopping the spread of these terrorist networks, the threat they pose to the United States will continue to grow,” Smith said.
“Our current involvement in Iraq undermines our pursuit of al-Qaeda while giving extremists a rallying point. We need a new direction in Iraq so that we can better fight the spread of the terrorists who threaten us,” Smith explained.
The revised Iraq Accountability Act:
- Fully funds our Armed Services over the next two-three months while holding President Bush and the Iraqi government accountable. The bill fences off $52.8 billion of the $95.5 billion provided to the Defense Department until released by subsequent legislation. To obtain the additional funds the President must submit a report to Congress by July 13 regarding the success of the Iraqi government in meeting security and political benchmarks. Then, within 7 legislative days after receiving the report in July, both the House and Senate would vote on whether to release the remaining defense funds.
- Provides additional funds not requested by the President for additional military health care needs and for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
- Funds improved military readiness.
- Provides $1.8 billion to meet veterans’ unmet health care needs.