Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on his opposition to the Levin-Reed amendment which mandates American troop withdrawals from Iraq beginning in 120 days. All American troops would need to be out of Iraq by May 2008. The amendment was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 52-47.
After the amendment was defeated, the Democratic leadership of the Senate decided to pull the defense authorization bill from the floor. The legislation contains provisions to increase pay and benefits, and make available better equipment for our troops.
Graham on the Defeat of the Levin-Reed Amendment:
“This approach would be a disaster for our national security interests both in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. Al Qaeda is now on the run in Iraq. They would welcome and rejoice over an American plan to withdraw from the fight. Local Iraqi populations are beginning to reject Al Qaeda and align themselves with us. We are now taking territory from Al Qaeda in Iraq and holding it with the assistance of the local population.
“A congressional mandate to withdraw would be heart-breaking and in all honesty a death sentence, to the Iraqi’s who are aligning with us against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Had the Levin-Reed resolution passed, this ill-advised approach would have offered tremendous encouragement and spirit to our Al Qaeda enemies in Iraq. It would have been international news that the United States does not have the stomach for this fight. I’m proud of the role I played in rejecting this amendment.
“I believe it is important to give General Petraeus time to implement his new strategy for Iraq and to hear what he has to say when he comes before Congress in September. Other Republicans, including some who were looking for the exits, stiffened their resolve after hearing about the progress being made on the ground with to the new strategy. The surge is having an effect, both in Iraq and Washington.”
Graham on the Democratic Leadership’s Decision to Pull the Bill from the Senate Floor:
“The common ground we had in the Senate on pay raises, better equipment and improved health care for our troops gave way to the politics of the next election. The Democratic leadership’s decision to pull the bill is yet another example of their choosing politics over policy. I’m embarrassed for the Senate because we failed to focus on the needs and welfare of our troops.
“While the troops continue to make us proud, the Congress continues to disappoint.”