Listen to Murray's Statement and Questioning

(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) asked tough questions of Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a meeting of the full Senate Appropriations Committee to review the Bush Administration's request of more than $189 billion for the War in Iraq. The hearing also featured testimony from General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State.

Political Reconciliation Costing American Lives

Senator Murray questioned Secretary Gates about how much longer he is willing to wait on the Iraqi Government for political reconciliation while American service members lose their lives. 

In her questioning, Murray highlighted the findings from recent non-partisan reports that have found that the Iraqi government will remain unstable and has not met critical benchmarks.

"How much time are you truly willing to give the Iraqi government," Murray asked.  "As we are paying for it with our own soldiers and our own dollars here at home." 

Investing in Iraq War – Ignoring Problems at Home

Senator Murray also pointed to the fact that President Bush is requesting $189 billion for the War in Iraq while threatening to veto $22 billion in domestic spending for education, children's healthcare, and America's crumbling highways and bridges. 

"I'm sure you understand our dilemma, we are being asked to come up with nearly $200 billion for next years budget…and we are being asked to cut our budget as we try to make sure that we have roads, bridges, highways, education, research, and economic development here in this country." Murray said. 

GAO Report Reveals Staffing Shortfall for Critical Army Program

Secretary Gates could not answer a question Senator Murray posed on a non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) report (Read report | Read Murray's response) that cited staffing shortfalls in a critical Army program that provides case management services to injured soldiers.

"As you may know, the GAO released a report today on overall efforts to improve health care and disability evaluations for our service members. And specifically, the GAO’s report found that over half of the Army's Warrior Transition Units have severe staffing shortages. Mr. Secretary, why, so long after case management has been identified as a problem, are we still facing problems in staffing these critical positions," Murray asked.