News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) voted for the amended $87 billion request to fund military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The measure passed the full Senate 87-12, and now goes to conference with the House of Representatives.

Throughout the week, Murray worked to improve the President's request by voting for several amendments.

One key amendment, passed last night with Murray's support, makes half of the Iraqi reconstruction fund a loan that can be forgiven if other countries forgive the $130 billion in debts incurred under Saddam's regime.

SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS




Below are some Highlights from Murray’s Speech



Murray: Support our Troops

"As the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran and the representative for hundreds of thousands of Washington state veterans and military families, I will fight for every dollar our troops need to protect themselves and to complete their mission successfully, and I am deeply troubled that the President still does not have a plan for success in Iraq."



“Not Where We Need To Be”

"Today we are not where we need to be in protecting our troops, gaining international support, or even having a plan to win the peace."

"We cannot allow Iraq or Afghanistan to descend into chaos."



Troops Under Attack

"Each day in Iraq, our American soldiers face vicious attacks from snipers, car bombs, roadside explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades. These attacks are taking a deadly toll."



Our Troops Deserve a Plan

"They and all of our troops deserve our thanks and our gratitude. But they deserve much more. They deserve a plan that will help them complete their mission successfully and return home safely. So far, there is no plan."



"There is still no plan for winning the peace. There is still no real international support – either in troops or treasure. Anyone who asks a legitimate question – or who talks about what's really happening – is criticized. And now the Administration wants $87 billion without accountability."



We Need a Plan – Not P.R.

"The way to fix this is for the White House to "swallow some pride," face reality, be accountable, and offer a credible plan. But instead of a plan, the Administration is offering a public relations campaign."



"We don't need a P.R. campaign to make it look like things are going well. We need a plan that will actually help our troops succeed -- and the American people are losing patience."



Who Pays for Reconstruction?

"I'm concerned with how the burden for Iraq's reconstruction is being shared with the rest of the world. The Bush Administration is proposing to spend more than $20 billion in Iraq, while the rest of the international community has currently pledged only $3 billion. $20 billion from American taxpayers. $3 billion from the rest of planet."



We Were Told Iraq’s Oil Would Fund Reconstruction

"The American people were told that Iraq's oil reserves would finance its reconstruction, but now we're getting stuck with the bill, and I believe the American people deserve an explanation. We all agree that we must help Iraq and Afghanistan get back on their feet quickly, but we should not carry the burden alone while our own schools, hospitals, and communities are in need."



Senate Version Now Shares the Burden

"That last night, the Senate took a positive step to improve the proposal. The Senate passed an amendment that will ensure the burden of debt is shared and will give the Iraqi people a greater stake in their own reconstruction. The progress last night is a dramatic improvement over the President's proposal and is a good reason to support the modified funding request."



We Cannot Fail Our Troops

"The reality is that we’ve got 130,000 troops over there. We cannot fail to give them what they need to protect themselves and complete their mission. So, reluctantly, I will vote for this $87 billion request because we can't deny our troops the resources they need even as we demand that the Administration offer a real plan."





LETTER: Bellingham Family Had To Buy Equipment for Son

"It is outrageous that we are sending our soldiers to Iraq without the equipment they need – forcing their parents and grandparents to buy things that our government should be providing.



[U.S. Army Specialist] Ian Willet is married and has two children. His family can't wait for him to return home, and the burden of protecting Ian should not fall on his family. It's the job of our government. I'm voting for this amendment so that soldiers like Ian won't have to ask their parents for the equipment they need to protect themselves."





It's Not Over. I'll Be Watching

"We will hold this Administration's feet to the fire. I will continue to be an aggressive advocate for moving us in the right direction because there is too much at stake to just trust that the President has learned from his failures so far."

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FULL TEXT




Senator Murray's complete statement follows:





"Mr. President, it's been a year since the full Senate debated military action in Iraq, and now the President is asking Congress for $87 billion. It's time to assess where things stand, to look at the reality facing our troops, and to see if we are on the right track in Iraq.



Unfortunately, it's clear to me that today we are not where we need to be in protecting our troops, gaining international support, or even having a plan to win the peace.



As the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran and the representative for hundreds of thousands of Washington state veterans and military families, I will fight for every dollar our troops need to protect themselves and to complete their mission successfully, and I am deeply troubled that the President still does not have a plan for success in Iraq.



I've invested a lot of time examining the President's $87 billion request. I'm taking a close look at what's needed and who will foot the bill. I've attended hearings and briefings where I've questioned Administration officials – from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld to Ambassador Bremer. And I've heard a great deal from the citizens I represent in Washington State.



Everywhere I go at home, I'm approached by people who have a family member who is now serving or a family member who's going to be called up. As we speak, 3,500 soldiers with the Army's first Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Lewis are being deployed to Iraq. About 2,100 Washington reservists are serving in Iraq today. About 300 Washington National Guard are already serving in Iraq and another 3,300 are on "ready alert." Like their families, I'm very concerned about what they – and all of our troops – will encounter overseas.



Soldiers Are Sacrificing



Each day in Iraq, our American soldiers face vicious attacks from snipers, car bombs, roadside explosives, and rocket-propelled grenades. These attacks are taking a deadly toll. We learned this morning that four more soldiers were killed in Iraq. Our hearts and prayers go out to their families as we continue to support all of the men and women who are still there.



Five months ago, President Bush stood on an aircraft carrier – under a sign that read "Mission Accomplished" -- and told us that major combat operations had ended. Since that day, however, more than 180 American soldiers have been killed – including four from Washington state. Their families will never be the same. Their communities will never be the same. They – and all of our troops -- deserve our thanks and our gratitude. But they deserve much more.



They deserve a plan that will help them complete their mission successfully and return home safely. So far, there is no plan.



Many of the questions I asked on the Senate floor a year ago still have not been answered, but today we must focus on the reality on the ground.



Facing Reality



We've got about 130,000 troops in Iraq, according to the Defense Department. They are working hard in dire circumstances, and they are facing deadly attacks every day. There is still no plan for winning the peace. There is still no real international support – either in troops or treasure. Anyone who asks a legitimate question -- or who talks about what's really happening – is criticized. And now the Administration wants $87 billion without accountability.



The way to fix this is for the White House to "swallow some pride," face reality, be accountable, and offer a credible plan. But instead of a plan, the Administration is offering a public relations campaign. Today we have complaints about media filters, and a lively policy debate within the Administration, but we still have no plan.



So as I assess where things stand in Iraq, I see:
  • No real international support
  • No tolerance for important questions
  • No consistent policy – even within the Administration
  • No accountability how money is spent in Iraq
  • No plan for success
  • And a PR campaign to "paper-over" the failures.


With all due respect, that is not a formula that will help bring our troops home.



We've got to deal with the situation as it is and figure out how to make it better. Sound bites and speeches are not going to help our troops finish their mission and come home. A credible plan, accountability, and international support will. We don't need a P.R. campaign to make it look like things are going well. We need a plan that will actually help our troops succeed -- and the American people are losing patience. That's the context in which we are having this debate.



The $87 Billion Request



Now I'd like to turn to the specifics of the President's $87 billion request. Most of it -- about $65 billion – would go to military operations. I absolutely support that. Without question, we must provide our military men and women with the resources they need to complete their missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and every corner of the Global War on Terrorism.



Sharing the Burden



But about one-quarter of the $87 billion is being proposed to rebuild Iraq. I'm concerned with how the burden for Iraq's reconstruction is being shared with the rest of the world. The Bush Administration is proposing to spend more than $20 billion in Iraq, while the rest of the international community has currently pledged only $3 billion. $20 billion from American taxpayers. $3 billion from the rest of planet.



This is far different than the 1991 Gulf War. In 1991, the first President Bush put together a coalition of countries to liberate Kuwait. The cost of that operation was $60 billion. Because that President had won the support of our allies -- and had secured the support of NATO and the United Nations -- America's allies paid 90 percent of the cost of that war. The U.S. paid only $6 billion.



Paying for Reconstruction



I am also troubled both as a citizen who cares about my country, and as a Senator who will cast a vote on this bill that Americans were told a lot of things about Iraq before the war which have turned out to be false.



One repeated assertion was that Iraq's vast oil reserves could pay for its own reconstruction. In fact, the Deputy Defense Secretary – Paul Wolfowitz – said:

"There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money. We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."



Now, just a few months later, it's clear that the bill to reconstruct Iraq is massive, and that bill is being handed to every American family.



As my Republican colleague, Sen. Lindsey Graham, said last night:



"It's very hard for me to go home and explain how you give twenty billion dollars to a country that is sitting on one trillion dollars worth of oil."



The American people were told that Iraq's oil reserves would finance its reconstruction, but now we're getting stuck with the bill, and I believe the American people deserve an explanation. We all agree that we must help Iraq and Afghanistan get back on their feet quickly, but we should not carry the burden alone while our own schools, hospitals, and communities are in need. We all understand the importance of helping the Iraqi people, but it need not come at the expense of our needs here at home. So even though the Administration says that Iraq should be able to produce $35 billion in oil revenues in a few years, the American taxpayer is still getting stuck with the bill.



And let's remember -- there is no guarantee that President Bush won't come back to ask U.S. taxpayers to provide even more money for Iraq's reconstruction. The World Bank says Iraq's reconstruction will cost at least $60 billion.



Americans Are Sacrificing



Today our families and communities are being asked to do more with less. Americans everywhere are sacrificing to make up the difference. American families will feel this $20 billion impact in crowded classrooms, delayed transportation improvements, and less access to health care.

One of the reasons American taxpayers are so upset is because we need those kinds of investments here at home. This Administration's priorities are wrong. The people I represent want to see that level of effort and resources put back into our own country. After all, we will only be strong abroad if we are strong here at home.



And let's not forget no matter how much we are sacrificing at home the burden is always far higher on our soldiers overseas. And that is why, while they are fighting for us, we must continue to fight for them. We have to make sure they come back to a country that has jobs that can support them, health care they can count on, retirement they can look forward to, and education and opportunity for their children.



So, before we reach for our wallets again, the American people deserve to know how this money will help bring our troops home as soon as possible. It is clear that our concerns and questions will not be fully addressed before we are forced to vote on this legislation. It is also clear that we cannot afford to fail in Iraq.

We Can’t Fail



We have situations in Iraq and Afghanistan that can go either way. Both Iraq and Afghanistan could become either havens for terrorism, or nations that can inch their way towards stability. Mr. President, we have to get it right. We cannot allow Iraq or Afghanistan to descend into chaos.



We Tried to Improve It



We have tried to make this proposal better through amendments. I voted to separate the military funding from the reconstruction funding. I voted to make the entire $20 billion a loan. I voted to require a long-term plan for the reconstruction. Unfortunately, those amendments failed, but I'm very pleased that last night, the Senate took a positive step to improve the proposal.



The Senate passed an amendment that will ensure the burden of debt is shared and will give the Iraqi people a greater stake in their own reconstruction. The progress last night is a dramatic improvement over the President's proposal and is a good reason to support the modified funding request.



At the end of the day, we cannot afford to fail in Iraq. The reality is that we've got 130,000 troops over there. We cannot fail to give them what they need to protect themselves and complete their mission. So, reluctantly, I will vote for this $87 billion request because we can't deny our troops the resources they need even as we demand that the Administration offer a real plan.

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To illustrate just how badly our troops need resources and equipment, I want to read an e-mail I received on Wednesday from David Willet of Bellingham, Washington about his son - Ian Willett.



David writes,

'My son, Specialist Ian Willet, a 2001 graduate of Sehome High School, was deployed to Iraq on September 5th, his 21st birthday. Prior to him leaving, he came to me to request money in order to help him buy combat gear he would need to take with him to Iraq. This is gear the Army either would not issue him or was as old and outdated as to be virtually useless. I of course bought the gear that he requested.



After talking with other men who have come home or are on their way to combat, I have become quite angry that our government has placed our sons and daughters in combat without the best equipment in the world. As an example, Ian spent $50.00 his grandfather gave him for his 21st birthday on knee pads. The Army-issue knee pads fall down around your ankles when you run with them on.



Now I read a quarter of the combat troops in Iraq don’t have the right body armor. I am outraged that it has taken over four years to get this ceramic body armor to our combat troops, and that our troops would even be sent into combat without this necessary technology. The reason front line troops don't have this body armor? Delays in funding, production and shipping. Small solace to family that has their loved one killed in combat for lack of the proper vest.



Other stories in the press talk about wounded soldiers being given bills for food they ate while in the hospital in the U.S. recovering from combat wounds. The Bush Administration wants us to focus on the good news coming out of Iraq."

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Mr. President, it is outrageous that we are sending our soldiers to Iraq without the equipment they need – forcing their parents and grandparents to buy things that our government should be providing.



Ian is married and has two children. His family can't wait for him to return home, and the burden of protecting Ian should not fall on his family. It's the job of our government. I'm voting for this amendment so that soldiers like Ian won't have to ask their parents for the equipment they need to protect themselves.



Even as I support this funding, I want to be very clear that this is not over. I'm going to watch this Administration very closely. I'm going to watch: how they spend this money, how accountable they are, how our soldiers fare, and how much international support we get.



We will hold this Administration's feet to the fire. I will continue to be an aggressive advocate for moving us in the right direction because there is too much at stake to just trust that the President has learned from his failures so far.



America is a strong nation, and Americans are a determined people. In our nation's history, we have confronted adversity. We have dealt with the challenges that have threatened our democracy. In each case, we had a clear vision and a plan to get there. There were bumps in the road, but at the times of our greatest need, America has come together with resolve and determination. Today is no different.



The American people are ready, and we are waiting for the President to face reality in Iraq and give us a credible plan to win the war and win the peace.