Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, testified about her legislation, H.Con.Res. 46, which she introduced Jan. 29 to declare that it’s the policy of the United States not to establish permanent military bases in Iraq. She said such a declaration is important both to deprive insurgents of a key recruiting tactic, as well as to clear up confusion within the Bush Administration.
“When the President was asked last October who would make the decision staying in Iraq permanently, the President said it was the Iraqis who would make this decision,” she said in a news release afterward. “This is different from the answer that Secretary Gates made when he was asked the same question while testifying before the Senate. Secretary Gates seemed to think that we had final say on whether we were in Iraq permanently.”
Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, testified about the “Change the Course in Iraq Act” she’d introduced March 9 to condition future funding for the Iraqi government on it meeting benchmarks laid out by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group; she said the bill compliments the Emergency Supplemental spending bill under consideration this week, but doesn’t compete with it.
“We carefully crafted this so that funding for protective equipment for our troops is not cut, and also to send a clear message to the Iraqi government that it is time for them to accept responsibility for governing,” she told the committee. “Our bill will force the Iraqi government to take on a greater role stabilizing Iraq, because we understand that no amount of American troops or humvees can bring about the political reconciliation necessary to end Iraq’s civil war.”
And Lantos himself today introduced the Iraq Reconstruction Improvement Act, which he told the committee is aimed at fixing a program “beset by gross corruption and massive American and Iraqi bureaucratic confusion. The Iraqi people, hoping that the fall of Saddam would bring peace and prosperity to their country, have instead been handed half-built hospitals, failed water projects, and a power grid that is more off than on.”
His bill, he said, would boost anti-corruption efforts; improve transparency and accountability for how taxpayer dollars are spent; provide technical assistance to Iraqi ministries to improve the administration of reconstruction programs, including programs providing basic services to the Iraqi people; address the plight of Iraqi refugees and those displaced within Iraq; and prevent further reconstruction debacles.