March 23, 2007
Today the House voted on H.R. 1591: the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act of 2007. After a great deal of reflection, I decided to support this legislation. With today's vote, we have taken an important step toward ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home. As I have told you before, this legislation does not go far enough for me. I pushed for a vote on a course of action that would have gotten us out of Iraq much sooner and stipulated that all funding go toward drawing down troops. The House Rules Committee did not allow a vote on this position, and even if they had, I know that there are not enough votes to support it.
Today's vote was a very difficult one for me and as you know I have been carefully weighing the impact of this legislation for weeks. In the final analysis, I decided that H.R. 1591 carried enough practical and symbolic weight that if it needed my vote to pass the House, then I should support it.
For me, the most important component of this legislation is that it stipulates the withdrawal of troops must begin no later than March 1, 2008 and be completed within 180 days. It also establishes specific benchmarks that the Iraqi government must meet, benchmarks that mirror the criteria President Bush himself set forth in his 2007 State of the Union address. If real progress on these benchmarks is not made by July 1, 2007, then U.S. troop redeployment will begin immediately and must be completed within 180 days.
President Bush has been threatening to veto this bill for weeks and I fully expect he will do so if it reaches his desk in its current form. Regardless, the House sent an important message to the President today by passing this legislation. In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to do everything I can to end this war. There may not have been enough votes today to bring a faster end to this war, but there were enough to establish a date certain for withdrawal. With today's vote in the House we are closer than we have ever been to ending this war.
Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208