Leahy, Sanders Again Push For Withdrawal Of U.S. Troops From Iraq

WASHINGTON (Tuesday, Feb. 26) -- The U.S. Senate Tuesday will vote on legislation cosponsored by Vermont’s two U.S. Senators to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. 

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) are original cosponsors of a bill introduced by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that would cut off funding for the military mission in Iraq four months after passage, with exceptions for counterterrorism, troop training and other limited purposes.  Leahy and Sanders have joined with Feingold each time similar legislation to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq has been offered, and Rep. Peter Welch (D) has supported counterpart legislation in the House.  They succeeded in attaching troop withdrawal legislation to last year’s Iraq spending bill, but it was vetoed by the President. 

The Bush Administration and Senate Republicans are working hard to defeat the new Iraq withdrawal bill and are forcing a supermajority test requiring 60 votes.  Leahy and Sanders acknowledge that the bill faces steep odds.  [The votes are expected to begin at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday.]

Leahy said, “The Bush Administration’s failed policy in Iraq has stretched our military to the breaking point, diluted and diverted our efforts to counter al Qaeda and its affiliates in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and roiled the Middle East with instability.  The sooner we change course the sooner we can implement a sound, sensible and sustainable policy that truly advances our security interests.”

Sanders said, “At a time when we have a $9 trillion national debt and enormous unmet needs in this country, this war continues to cost us an astronomical $12 billion each and every month.  We should stop the war, stop the bloodshed, rebuild our credibility around the world, and reorder or priorities at home.”


A separate bill coming to a Senate vote Tuesday would require the Bush Administration to produce a global strategy for defeating al Qaeda and its affiliates.  That strategy must ensure that deployments do not undermine military readiness or homeland security.


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