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"We need a new direction in Iraq, and that's one of the reasons I voted to confirm Robert Gates as our next Secretary of Defense. For years, I have called for the Bush Administration to provide a clear plan that will allow our troops to complete their mission successfully and return home safely. The White House has failed miserably at the task. I am hopeful that with a new defense secretary, a new Congress, and new proposals from the Iraq Study Group, the President will finally hear the message that voters sent him last month and change course in Iraq.



I am hopeful the Administration will see the need for honesty, reality, and wisdom in its path forward on Iraq, but I am not relying on hope alone. I will ask the tough questions and exercise the real oversight that Republicans failed to provide. We need to be tough and smart.



I will use my voice to ask the questions that our service members and their families would ask, and I will keep pushing until they get the answers they deserve. In 2004 when military families told me that members of our 81st Brigade might deploy to Iraq without life-saving equipment, I went straight to Secretary Rumsfeld. When the Pentagon failed to plan for the costs of veterans care, I challenged Secretary Rumsfeld directly. And when the Department of Defense reneged on bonuses it promised to our Guard and Reserve members, I stood up for our troops. I will continue to ask the tough questions, and I expect the new Secretary to be responsive.



Washington state plays a critical role in our country's defense. We have first-rate military facilities and talented service members who, with their families, are making tremendous sacrifices. I look forward to working with Secretary Gates to give our men and women in uniform the support they deserve."