WASHINGTON – House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) joined his colleagues this morning on the House floor to voice his strong opposition to the majority’s attempt to co-opt command-and-control authority in Iraq.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the debate as it has unfolded on the floor has done a great service in reminding the American people of exactly what’s at stake in Iraq – the prospects of victory, the consequences of retreat, and a better appreciation of how important it is that we do everything we possibly can to secure and support our men and women in harm’s way.
House Republicans asked the speaker and her colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to produce a clean and straightforward supplemental emergency bill – a package worthy of our troops’ hard work and dedication, with help that we could deploy to the frontlines as urgently as possible.
What we got instead was a poorly assembled wish list of non-emergency spending requests, wrapped in a date-certain declaration of defeat – a confirmation to our enemies that, if they hang on just a bit longer, we’ll be out of their way soon.
I happen to believe the stakes in Iraq are too high, and the sacrifices made by our military personnel and their families too great, to be content with anything but success.
But the bill brought before us today isn’t written with victory in mind. Its prevailing tone is one of defeat, and its abiding premise is that America’s mission in Iraq is over and our troops’ continued status there is without merit.
And just to drive the point home, it forces upon General Petraeus and his commanders on the ground constant status and reporting requirements designed not only to undermine their basic operational authority, but to hasten a withdrawal of troop support from the region.
When the leaders of the majority were offered the opportunity for a secure briefing from General Petraeus two days ago, they said no. When the majority was offered a briefing with Secretary Gates, Secretary Rice, and General Pace in the last few days, they said no again.
Does anyone think that demoting our best generals to administrative assistants represents our best chance at achieving our goals in the region? Does anyone believe our commanders have been given too much authority and too much flexibility to get the job done?
Ultimate victory in Iraq is a proposition that’s far from guaranteed, Mr. Speaker. But ultimate failure in Iraq is if this attempt to co-opt the essential command-and-control responsibilities of our commanders in the field ever becomes law.
Mr. Speaker, this emergency supplemental includes billions of dollars in non-emergency spending – offered as an excuse to vote for a bill that guarantees our defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I’d urge a ‘No’ vote on this bill, and ask my colleagues to join me in sending a message of strength and resolve to our friends, our enemies, and most importantly: to our troops in the field.