Over in Iraq, our troops get up every day and risk their lives in the middle of an Iraqi civil war. They have to do their job, no matter what the risk, and no matter what the cost. They do what they are asked to do...and so should Congress. Congress's job right now should be to bring our troops home safely, and we can't turn away from this issue just because it's tough going. The only way we will ever get our troops out is by putting constant pressure on supporters of this disastrous war. Let's make them vote again and again, so that they have to go back home and explain why they keep voting to keep our troops in Iraq. When they feel the heat for their vote, that's when they will change their vote, and that's how we will bring our troops home.
The message from the voters last November was clear -- safely redeploy our troops out of Iraq. Telling ourselves "we don't have the votes now, so what's the point" doesn't cut it. I understand that we may not get to 67 or 60 or even 50 votes on Feingold-Reid right now. But remember, when I first proposed that Congress use its constitutional power of the purse to end the war, support was scarce at best. Now, the majority of Senate Democrats, including our leadership and presidential candidates, are firm supporters. If we give in to the defeatist "we don't have the votes" attitude, we're playing right into the hands of the president and supporters of his war who cannot wait for the day they don't have to talk about Iraq. If supporters of this war are going to vote to keep our troops in a situation that is hurting our military as well as our national security, they should be prepared to defend it every day.
One question that I keep getting asked by reporters is why Democrats aren't reaching out to moderate Republicans to come up with some sort of consensus legislation. I also see stories criticizing the Democratic leadership for failing to bring in Republican moderates to pass legislation. My response is simple -- what good is getting 60 or 67 votes to pass a nonbinding Sense of the Senate resolution on Iraq that doesn't bring the troops home? When I hold my town hall meetings in Wisconsin, nobody is asking me to push for an empty compromise. They ask me how we can finally end this war. This summer we heard a growing chorus of Republicans call for change in Iraq but their words have proven to be empty. If members are serious about changing course in Iraq, Feingold-Reid is the surest way to do it.
The American people have been clear in what they want -- an end to this war. Last November, Democrats were saying all the right things but now it's time to follow through. I know some of my colleagues want to avoid any Iraq debate on the Defense appropriations bill. Sorry, but Iraq is the most important issue we face and the Senate must address it as we take up the Defense spending bill this week. That's why I will again be offering an amendment to set a deadline for bringing our troops home. I intend to do so today.
If those of us in Congress who want to end this war don't take every opportunity to push back against this administration, we will be just as responsible for keeping our troops in Iraq. Congress has got to stand up to this administration, and stand up to every phony argument it makes for keeping our troops in Iraq. In this debate, we need honesty, determination, and above all, persistence. With President Bush in office, we can't change things in Iraq if we don't vote to do so. If we lose that vote, we need to vote again and again and again. We have to hold war supporters' feet to the fire until they finally listen to the American people, recognize the damage this president's Iraq policy has done, and vote to safely redeploy our troops.