by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH)
The Reed-Levin proposal, setting a specific withdrawal date from Iraq,would result in chaos in Iraq, thousands more deaths, the defeat of democracy, and would severely compromise our national security. Today we heard from United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who said, ‘Any abrupt withdrawal or decision may lead to a further deterioration of the situation in Iraq.’ The Reed-Levin proposal is a political document, but with practical implications that are staggering, and I do not support this proposal or the dangerous direction in which it goes.
It is hard to take the commentary of the two New Hampshire Congressmen and the new State Democratic Party Chairman seriously when they unfortunately are using the situation in Iraq as a political statement rather than working to find a bipartisan solution to a complicated and serious issue. New Hampshire citizens are legitimately concerned about the progress in Iraq and are looking for bipartisan answers to the problem.
I continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find the best way to deal with this situation and bring about resolution in a constructive, bipartisan way. In March, the Senate overwhelmingly approved, in a bipartisan 82-16 vote, an amendment I authored, stating the strong support of Congress for our troops and that funding for the troops would not be cut off. Then, working together with Senator Warner, we secured strong bipartisan Senate support and approval for a provision passed that requires the President to submit reports to Congress on whether the Iraqi government is making progress on 18 different political, security and economic benchmarks. This plan, which ties non-military U.S. aid to the Iraqi government meeting these benchmarks and a redeployment of U.S.troops if the Iraqi government asks us to leave, was the lynch pin in setting dates for required action. Building upon this work, in May, I joined with a bipartisan group of Senators to bring forth legislation based upon the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. This bipartisan effort continues to grow as the bill now has seven Democratic and six Republican cosponsors, a serious statement on our commitment to keeping this important issue above partisanwrangling and gamesmanship.
Since coming to Congress, New Hampshire’s two Congressmen have repeatedly shown their unwillingness to buck their liberal leadership’s agenda, and instead they have governed by press release rather than trying to find a way to build bipartisan approaches for the benefit of New Hampshire and our nation. There has not been one major vote that Speaker Pelosi has not been able to use our two Representatives as her proxy.
My focus will continue to remain on working to resolve the Iraq situation in a way that ensures our national security, supports our troops in harm’s way, and leaves Iraq as stable as possible, with a government that will prevent further chaos in the region. As a government, we have always worked in a bipartisan manner in times of war and international conflict, and I look forward to working with like-minded colleagues on both sides of the aisle as we put our national security interests first and foremost above all else.
Senator Judd Gregg