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(Washington, D.C.) - Today in a passionate

Murray Speaks Out Agaisnt the Surge
speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) called on Republicans to stop blocking debate on the President's misguided plan to escalate the War in Iraq. Murray said she will vote for a bipartisan resolution expressing opposition to the President's surge as the first step in changing direction in Iraq. Recalling her 2002 speech against authorizing the war in Iraq, Murray spoke of the tremendous sacrifices Washington state families have made during the war.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Mr. President, war is the most serious and most consequential issue we can debate here in the United States Senate. American lives, American security and America's future are all on the line when our country decides questions of war and peace. For years, we have been denied a real opportunity to fully debate the War in Iraq - a war that has claimed more than 3,000 American lives with no end in sight.

In November, voters sent us a message. They want a new direction. But the President wants more of the same. In fact, he wants to escalate the war by putting up to 48,000 more Americans in the middle of a deadly civil war. Those are two completely different approaches. On one side, we have the American people, the Iraq Study Group, generals who have spoken out, and a bipartisan majority of Congress. And on the other side, we have the President and his supporters.

In a democracy, we resolve those differences through debate. We in the Senate are ready for that debate. We are ready to move in a new direction, and it starts by putting this Senate on record as opposing the President's plan to escalate the war in Iraq.

Republicans are Blocking a Critical Debate

I've been looking forward to finally having this debate here in the Senate, but some Republicans have a different strategy. They don't want to have a real debate. They don't want us to consider the resolutions that have been offered. I'm not going to comment on their motives, but I will point out the consequences. Every day they block a debate, they send a message that Congress supports escalation. Every day they block a debate, they deny our citizens a voice in a war that has cost us dearly in dollars and lives. And every day they block a debate, they are blocking the will of the American public.

I'm on the floor today because I know this debate is long overdue. And I'm not going to let anyone silence me, the troops I speak for, or the constituents I represent.

We've Been Denied a Voice

Ever since the start of combat operations in March 2003, I've been frustrated that we have been denied a chance to hold hearings, a chance to ask the critical questions, to demand answers, to hold those in charge accountable, and to give the American people a voice in a war that is costing us terribly. And I can tell you one thing: We are going to have that debate whether some in this body like it or not.

The 2002 Resolution & Today

Four years ago, I came here to the Senate floor to discuss the original resolution that gave the President the authority to wage war in Iraq. At that time, I asked a series of questions, including -

  • What is the mission?

  • What will it require?

  • Who's with us in the fight?

  • What happens after our troops go in?

  • How will it impact the Middle East?

  • How will it affect the broader War on Terror?

  • And are we being honest with the American people about the costs of war?

After exploring those questions, I announced on October 9, 2002 -

"I cannot support sending our men and women into harm's way on an ill-defined, solo mission with so many critical questions unanswered."

Today, four years, $379 billion, and more than 3,000 American lives later - the President wants to send more Americans into the middle of a civil war - against the wishes of a majority of the public and of Congress. As I look at the President's proposed escalation, I'm left with the exact same conclusion I reached 4 years ago. I cannot support sending more of our men and women into harm's way on an ill-defined, solo mission with so many critical questions unanswered.

"No" Then; "No" Now

Today, President Bush wants to send Americans into battle without a clear mission, without equipment, without an endgame, and without explaining the cost. When he tried it four years ago, I stood up, I spoke out, and I voted no. And again today - President Bush wants to send more Americans into battle without a clear mission, without equipment, without an endgame and without explaining the cost. And once again, I say - not on my watch.

We need a new direction, Mr. President - not more Americans in the middle of a civil war. I will vote for a bipartisan resolution to send a clear message that we oppose the surge. It is the first step in demanding a new direction in Iraq.

Proud of Our Troops

No debate on Iraq can begin without first recognizing our men and women in uniform, who risk their lives - and all too often must give their lives - to keep us safe. Whenever our country calls, they answer, no matter the cost to them and their families. They are our best, our brightest, our bravest, and I hope to give them a voice in this debate. While most Americans are going about life as normal, our troops and their families are quietly making tremendous sacrifices. The burdens of this war have not been shared equally, and we owe so much to those who shoulder those heavy burdens.

I had a chance to visit service members from my home state on the ground in Kuwait and Baghdad. Every one of them makes me proud. I've sat down with service members and their families at Camp Murray, McChord Air Force Base and Fairchild Air Force Base in my home state. I talked with returning service members in every corner of my state and have worked to help them the get the healthcare, benefits and transition support they deserve.

Washington State Sacrifices

My home state of Washington has made tremendous sacrifices to help us fight and win the War on Terror. To date, more than 59,000 service members with a Washington state connection have served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Currently, nearly 10,000 people with a Washington state connection are serving in OEF and OIF.

According to the Department of Defense as of January 20th for O.E.F. and O.I.F., 702 service members whose "Home of Record" is Washington state have been injured. That's 702 injured. (latest figures)

In addition, 66 service members whose "Home of Record" is Washington state have made the ultimate sacrifice. The number is even higher when you include those who have a "connection" to Washington state.

Each one of those brave American's is someone's mother or father, sister or brother, daughter or son. Their families will never be the same. Their communities will never be the same, and I offer my prayers for those who have sacrificed for our country. We owe them a debt that can never be fully repaid.

Everyone Wants a New Direction, Except the President

After nearly four years of losses and misrepresentations and miscalculations, the American people have said they want a new direction in Iraq. Generals have spoken out calling for a new direction. The Iraq Study Group called for a new direction. And yet President Bush has ignored everyone and is pushing to send even more American troops into the middle of a civil war. He is wrong, and a bipartisan resolution is the first step in forging a new direction.

But now Republicans in the Senate are denying us a chance to vote for that new direction. In fact, they are preventing us from even debating the merits of that new direction. They may have stopped us from moving forward last night, but they cannot stop this debate forever - the American people simply won't allow it.

The Surge

Mr. President, if the Republicans stop their obstruction and start allowing us to debate this misguided surge proposal, there are plenty of questions we have to ask - What would the impact of a surge be? How would it affect our men and women in uniform? Will it put more of them into the crossfire and cause more deaths and injuries?

Surge's Impact on Fort Lewis?

My home state is home to Fort Lewis and two of the Army's Stryker Brigades. How will a surge affect them? Will some members see their current deployment extended? Will others see their deployment date moved up? Will all of them have the equipment they need when they're over there? Those are the first questions we must ask.

Surge's Impact on Veterans

How will a surge affect our ability to care for our returning veterans? We're having trouble meeting their needs today - how are we going to do the job in an escalated war?

A Better Way Forward

In listening to the debate today, I've heard several Senators on the other side demand ideas from Democrats. My first response is simple - to discuss ideas, shouldn't we first discuss the President's ideas? He is, after all, the commander in chief. That is the point of these resolutions - to foster a debate on the President's plan for the future of Iraq. But the Senate Republicans won't allow it.

The Republican's obstruction and the President's decisions so far have left us with few options. I am looking at every resolution and every proposal. And I'm looking forward to having hearings, getting the facts, and moving forward in a bipartisan way.

Personally, I believe that the way forward should include at least three steps. First, we should strategically redeploy our troops. Second, we should work with Iraq's neighbors and other countries in the area to build a regional framework. Third, we need the Iraqi's to take ownership of their own country and their own future. We can send troops for decades and never have a peaceful, stable Iraq until the Iraqi people are willing to work together for a purpose that is larger than their own tribe, sect or self.

We Must Refocus on the War on Terror

I believe that we need to refocus our efforts on the War on Terror - on fighting Al-Qaeda and on addressing the other challenges that threaten our security. For example, I'm concerned by reports that Afghanistan is sliding backwards and becoming more unstable. So those are some of the steps I would take to improve our security, and that is the debate we need to be having. Before I conclude, I want to address two other concerns.

What Supporting Our Troops Means

First, some people have suggested that if you question the President's policies you're somehow hurting our troops. Well, as the Vice President likes to say, "Hogwash." Supporting our troops means giving them a clear mission, making sure they have the equipment and support they need, and making sure we have a clear endgame. If any of those critical ingredients are missing, it is our duty to question the policy until we provide our troops with what they need.

Sending more Americans into the middle of a civil war - without a clear mission, without equipment, without support, and without an endgame - is endangering our troops - not supporting them.

I don't shrink from war. I voted for the war in Afghanistan. My father served in World War II and was injured in combat. I know war is sometimes necessary, but I also know that if we don't answer the critical questions, our troops pay the price. And for too long partisans have claimed to be speaking for troops, but have blocked the discussions that could truly protect them. I say - no more.

This is the First Step

Finally, some people say that a non-binding resolution is not enough, and I agree. And that's why this is the first step. We can't take the other steps until this Congress goes on record - in a bi-partisan voice - telling the President that his surge is wrong. Once we've done that, the ball is in the President's court. But Senate Republicans are preventing us from even getting into the game. If he still won't change course, we'll look at other tools before us. Senators have discussed a whole series of steps we could take, and I'm going to review all of them. We're also holding hearings to find out what options we can take. So this is the first step, and if the President doesn't hear us, we'll take the next step, and the next step, and the one after that.

We're Doing More in 5 Weeks than in 3 Years

Now I understand that many Americans are frustrated that our troops are in the middle of a civil war. I'm frustrated too, and I wish we'd been allowed to start this process - these hearings, debates, and votes -- a long time ago. But we are moving aggressively now. Democrats have been in charge for 5 weeks - and already we're having more debates, more hearings, and more progress than we've had in the past three years. And I can promise you - this is only the beginning.

But we can't have those debates if Republicans keep blocking an open discussion on the war. Republicans need to stop denying a real debate here in the Senate, so that together we can move our country in a new direction.

A Bipartisan Vote Will Send A Strong Message

I believe that for us to really have an impact, Congress has to speak with a clear, bipartisan voice. We could vote on hundreds of resolutions that make us feel better - but that won't really help us change the direction. Instead, it's a strong bipartisan message from Congress to the Executive Branch - and to the country - that has the power to make progress. I'm willing to take the time to do this right and to build the support we need, so that at the end of the day we can have a real impact.


Mr. President, in conclusion, I strongly oppose the surge. Escalation is the wrong direction. I will vote to put this Senate on record opposing the surge, if the Republicans will end their filibuster. And I will continue to fight for a new direction in Iraq. For too long, the voices of our troops and our citizens have been blocked, and today Senate Republicans are trying to continue that obstruction. I say - no longer. The debate must begin -- our country will be the better for it.