U.S. Rep. Adam Smith issued the following statement in response to House passage of H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. The bill provides $50 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan while requiring the Administration to begin reducing troops immediately and to plan for a full redeployment of combat forces by December 2008.
“We are in the fifth year of the Iraq occupation. The costs of the war include nearly 4,000 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives. We have stretched our military to the breaking point and have not sufficiently confronted al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And still, the President and his advisors have no plans to reduce our forces below the numbers that were present in Iraq at the beginning of this year.
“This bill is the latest in a series of votes by Democrats to chart a new direction in Iraq. It would provide short-term funds for the troops while requiring the President to begin redeploying troops within 30 days, and to provide a plan by February for the full redeployment of our combat troops from Iraq by the end of next year. The bill would also transition the mission of our remaining forces to counterterrorism, limited support of Iraqi troops, and diplomatic and force protection.
“In addition, this legislation explicitly bans torture by U.S. government agencies. That we should even need to consider such a prohibition shows the damage that Bush Administration policies have done to our nation’s credibility. This ban is an essential step in restoring America’s moral leadership.
“Congress should not provide funds for the President’s policies in Iraq unless the administration and military officials plan for the end of our occupation. Instead of pursuing a dangerous strategy of permanent bases – which would further frustrate our efforts to gain the cooperation of the Muslim world in confronting al-Qaeda – the President and his congressional allies should join Democrats in changing our policies. I am disappointed that Republicans in Congress again blocked our effort in the House to build a veto-proof majority; as long as they continue to do so, our options in Congress remain limited.
“We have already seen what the administration’s lack of planning cost us when we began the Iraq war. We should not repeat that mistake by failing to plan for the end of the occupation.”