Feingold-Reid Bill to End Iraq war (SB 1077)

Feingold-Reid bill S.1077 on withdrawal from Iraq


S. 1077. A bill to safely redeploy United States troops from Iraq; to the Committee on Foreign Relations (introduced April 10, 2007)

The language of the legislation reads:

(a) Transition of Mission - The President shall promptly transition the mission of United States forces in Iraq to the limited purposes set forth in subsection (d).

(b) Commencement of Safe, Phased Redeployment from Iraq - The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq that are not essential to the purposes set forth in subsection (d). Such redeployment shall begin not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(c) Prohibition on Use of Funds - No funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces after March 31, 2008.

(d) Exception for Limited Purposes - The prohibition under subsection (c) shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the limited purposes as follows:

(1) To conduct targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.

(2) To provide security for United States infrastructure and personnel.

(3) To train and equip Iraqi security services.

Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, it is just over 4 years since our brave troops marched into Baghdad, bringing an end to the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Four long years later, however, over 141,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq and more are on the way, while that country continues its tragic descent into widespread violence and civil war. Four years later, the President continues to insist that he has no intention of bringing this war to an end--or even acknowledging when it might end. And, 4 years later, the American people are calling out in greater and greater numbers for an end to a misguided and open-ended military mission.

That is why, today, along with Senate Majority Leader HARRY REID, I am introducing legislation that would require the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq within 120 days, and that would require redeployment to be completed by March 31, 2008, by ending funding for the war on that date. While I would personally prefer an even stronger approach, with a shorter time-frame, for ending the war, I am pleased to be working with the Majority Leader on this legislation. Senator Reid understands the terrible costs of this war, and he understands the solemn obligation we have in this body to bring it to a close. As he put it just a few days ago, ``It is not worth another drop of American blood in Iraq. It is not worth another damaged brain.'' I thank Senator Reid for his support and for agreeing to bring the bill up for a vote before Memorial Day. I am also pleased to have the cosponsorship of Senators LEAHY, DODD, KERRY, BOXER, WHITEHOUSE and KENNEDY.

There is no U.S. military solution to Iraq's civil war, which the recently declassified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) called a ``self-sustaining inter-sectarian struggle between Shia and Sunnis.'' And even if there were a military solution, civil war is only one of the problems causing violence and instability in Iraq. Again, let me quote the NIE: ``the term `civil war' does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa'ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence.''

Most Americans recognize that it makes no sense to ask our troops to police an ongoing civil war. Nor does it make any sense to ask our troops to put down a Sunni insurgency, or to place them in the middle of ``Shia-on-Shia violence'' or ``criminally motivated violence'' in Iraq.

It does, however, make sense to address the ongoing threat posed by al Qaeda. For that reason, the Feingold-Reid legislation would allow ``targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations'' to continue in Iraq after March 2008. The bill also has narrow exceptions for U.S. troops to train and equip Iraqis and provide security for other U.S. troops and civilian personnel, but neither of these exceptions authorizes U.S. troops to engage in combat operations.

The Feingold-Reid bill allows targeted operations to take out terrorists who pose a threat to the United States, but it recognizes that maintaining a huge U.S. troop presence in Iraq doesn't help--in fact, it hurts--our global anti-terrorism efforts. By redeploying the vast majority of U.S. troops from Iraq, this legislation will allow us to re-focus on the broader fight against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is not a one country franchise, and the President's strategy of devoting so much of our resources and attention to one country is short-sighted and counter-productive.

Some of my colleagues argue that cutting off funds for the war is the same as cutting off funds for the troops. They raise the specter of troops being left on the battlefield without the training, equipment and resources they need.

Those arguments are false. Every member of Congress agrees that we must continue to support our troops and give them the resources and support they need. Not a single member would ever vote for any proposal that would jeopardize the safety of our troops. The Feingold-Reid bill would end our involvement in the war without in any way impairing the safety of our brave servicemembers. By setting a March 31, 2008, deadline after which funding for the war will be terminated, Congress can provide ample time for the President to safely redeploy our troops.

Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger made this point at a Judiciary Committee hearing I chaired entitled ``Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War.'' Speaking of my proposal to end funding for the war, he said: ``There would not be one penny less for salary of the troops. There would not be one penny less for benefits of the troops. There would not be one penny less for weapons or ammunition. There would not be one penny less for supplies or support. Those troops would simply be redeployed to other areas where the armed forces are utilized.''

This has been done before, in fact not that long ago. In October 1993, Congress enacted an amendment cutting off funding for military operations in Somalia effective March 31, 1994, with limited exceptions. Seventy-six Senators voted for that amendment. Many of them are still in this body, such as Senator Cochran, Senator Domenici, Senator Hutchison, Senator Lugar, Senator McConnell, Senator Specter, Senator Stevens and Senator Warner. Did those 8 Senators, and the many Democratic Senators who joined them, act to jeopardize the safety and security of U.S. troops in Somalia? By cutting off funds for a military mission, were they indifferent to the well-being of our brave men and women in uniform?

Of course not. All of these members recognized that Congress had the power and the responsibility to bring our military operations in Somalia to a close, by establishing a date after which funds would be terminated.

That same day, October 15, 1993, several Senators--myself included--supported an even stronger effort to end funding for Somalia operations. The amendment offered by Senator McCain would have eliminated Somalia funding right away except for funds for withdrawal or in case of American POWs or MIAs not being accounted for. Thirty-eight Senators, most of them Republicans, opposed a measure to table that amendment. We did so because we understood that Senator McCain was proposing an appropriate, safe, responsible way to use our power of the purse to bring an ill-conceived military mission to a close without in any way harming our troops. As Senator Hatch said at the time, ``The McCain amendment provides the President with the flexibility needed to bring our forces home with honor and without endangering the safety of American troops.''

Feingold-Reid also allows the President to bring our brave forces home with honor and without endangering them in any way. It is safe, it is responsible, and it is long overdue.

The President will not listen to the American people. It is up to this Congress--newly elected by Americans fed up with the President's mishandling of Iraq--to let the people's voices be heard. And it is up to this Congress to end a war that is undermining our national security and draining precious resources from the global fight against al Qaeda and its allies. Last November, the American people voted to end the war. Now it is up to Congress to do the same.