Wes Hickman (202 224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864 250-1417)
– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made the following statement on the issue of loans to Iraq today after the U.S. House of Representatives voted 277-139 to instruct conferees to keep the loan provision in the final version of the bill. Graham was one of eight Republicans in the U.S. Senate to support the idea when the body voted on the supplemental appropriation bill last week. He made the following statement:
“We all understand Iraqi reconstruction is necessary as soon as possible, but it’s clear to me that both a majority of the House and Senate have serious concerns about a $20 billion grant.
“There are two major issues that must be addressed to maintain strong domestic support for the Iraqi operation in terms of borrowed taxpayer dollars that have to be spent. First, it is imperative all debt incurred by Saddam Hussein’s regime be forgiven immediately. It’s unfair to the Iraqi people to have to pay debts occurred by their oppressor. Second, it’s equally unfair to the American taxpayer that our investments in Iraq could generate revenue to pay off Saddam’s debts.
“After having been to Iraq, I know the Iraqi people are a strong, proud people. They want and deserve to be stakeholders in their future. It’s in our long-term interests to make them stakeholders.
“Iraq is fortunate it sits atop a great resource, a sea of oil. When we make them full owners of this resource -- responsible for its upkeep, maintenance, and operation – there’s no doubt they will treat it with great care and respect. If we don’t make them stakeholders, it’s doubtful they will take the same interest.
“President Bush was right to rid Iraq and the world of Saddam Hussein. He is right in wanting to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country. As I stood by him in going to war, I will continue to stand by him in winning the peace.”