Locals speak for Iraq redeployment bill

Here’s what some Bay Area House members had to say about the Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act, a measure the House passed today on a 223-201 vote requiring U.S. forces to begin redeploying within 120 days and to complete the transition to a limited presence in Iraq by April 1, 2008.

mcnerneyportrait.jpg Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton: “After more than four years of engagement in Iraq, it is far past time to recognize certain truths: The President’s stay-the-course strategy is failing; the Iraqis must take responsibility for their own country; this war has severely diminished our military readiness and diverted our attention in the war on terror; and we must change course. That is why I wholeheartedly support the Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act. This bill represents a comprehensive strategy to move in a new direction by responsibly redeploying our troops, demanding the Iraqis stand up and take responsibility for their country, and refocusing our efforts on disrupting and destroying the terrorist networks that threaten our national security.”

miller.jpg Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez: “I have long believed that as long as American forces are in Iraq to prop up the Iraqi government, the Iraqi government will never come into its own and the various factions in Iraq will never come to terms with their own future. Our presence in Iraq is not simply failing to bring violence to an end, or create stability, or ensure a democratic and functioning government. It is in fact preventing those goals from being achieved. But it comes from no fault of America’s soldiers. America’s soldiers have done everything asked of them. Yet they continue to be placed in an impossible situation by the failures of this President. We can no longer leave our troops in this situation with nothing but misplaced hope that things will get better … They will not get better …not for our troops. They have been treated horribly. Their tours extended to unsafe lengths, repeatedly, and without adequate armor or training. We must redeploy them now and bring them home.”

lee3.jpg Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: “If we are to climb out of this deep hole, we are going to have to make sure that when our troops come home, that they all come home. That means no permanent bases, and it means ending our blind commitment to arming and training Iraqi security forces. And it also means that come September, we must use the power of our purse and we must begin to fully fund the safe redeployment of our young men and woman and our contractors out of Iraq. The civil war in Iraq is raging within the very security forces we are arming and training. Our weapons and expertise are being used for sectarian violence and for killing Americans and Iraqi civilians. This policy only further endangers our troops and fuels the civil war. We must end the Bush administration’s failed policy in Iraq – and it has failed – and we must reconsider this blind commitment to arming and training Iraqi security forces. Let us support our troops, and I mean support our troops in a real way, by bringing them home. This is the will of the American people, that is the goal of the Out of Iraq Caucus, and that is in the national security interest of our country.”

lantos.jpg Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo: “The people of Iraq and our fighting forces there know the situation all too well. The index of progress that they face each day tells them much more than a 25-page report can ever say. With every car bomb that takes a civilian toll, every insurgent’s bullet that finds its mark, every roadside explosive that maims or kills one of our own brave men and women in uniform, the sacrifices mount – and the result is anything but satisfactory. This is why, Mr. Speaker, our measure deserves our full and unwavering support. We need to direct a misguided Administration to face reality and to start the responsible redeployment of our forces from Iraq. By asking this Congress to extend our patience yet again, by pointlessly risking our troops, and by continuing to ignore the will of the American people to end this war, the Administration is reaching for a bridge much too far.”

tauscher3.jpgRep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo: “Chairman Skelton’s bill, of which I am a proud co-sponsor, would make significant reductions in our troop presence by April 2008. The President continues to blindly stay the course in Iraq with disastrous and deadly consequences. Democrats, along with Republican colleagues who no longer trust the President’s leadership, are doing all we can to slow the President’s full-speed ahead mismanagement and divert the policy toward returning the troops home sooner and safer. This more responsible presence, consisting of limiting US presence to fighting terrorism and training Iraqi forces, will protect American interests in the region and be the first step toward restoring the readiness that has been exhausted over the last four years.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.