By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
U.S. House of Representatives
Mr. Speaker, the American people want a new direction in Iraq and they expect Congress to act accordingly.
It has been almost four years since this Administration declared the end of major combat in Iraq. Since this declaration we have seen more than 3-thousand soldiers killed in combat, and more than 22-thousand injured. We can’t forget that these aren't just numbers. These are our sons and daughters.
There are now more than 3-thousand men and women who will never return home to their families. Many are children, 18, 19 or 20 years old. Their lives have ended before they ever really began.
I started my career as a psychiatric nurse at the Dallas VA Hospital. I know first hand the physical and psychological trauma these young people will face. It is a long-term battle for them and their families as they learn to live with these disabilities.
We are in a war with no end in sight. And now we are talking about troop escalation. How many more young lives are we going to lose? How many more soldiers will face life long disabilities?
The experts have weighed in on this issue, and they say that troop escalation is a mistake. The President assembled a group of experts to design a new course for Iraq. The President’s experts did not recommend additional troops. In fact, they recommended the opposite.
Mr. Speaker, it's time to listen to the experts and the commanders on the ground. Our troops are faced with the impossible task of policing a civil war. Each day we hear of sectarian attacks and bombing. Our soldiers are caught in the middle with no real strategy to end the violence.
A great American military cannot be a substitute for a weak Iraqi government. We need to focus on diplomatic solutions and training Iraqi security forces so that they can take control of their own country. With this escalation we are just adding to the chaos.
Mr. Speaker, my constituents in North Texas continue to grieve the loss of their sons and daughters in Iraq. They are concerned for our troop's safety, and they are demanding answers. This war is costing us 100 lives and $2 billion a week. At an overall cost of $500 billion, we will be paying the cost of this war for decades to come.
In my Congressional District in Dallas, Texas, our share of the cost is almost $1 billion. In Dallas, this would have provided 400-thousand children with health care, or paid for 23-thousand additional police officers. For our nation’s 300 million Americans, their share is $13-hundred a piece.
Accountability of Iraq war spending has been appalling. Last week we began Congressional hearings regarding contracting fraud. Apparently, there are $12 billion unaccounted for. Contractors were being paid with large bags of cash. This is truly an embarrassment and the height of irresponsibility. And now we are talking about spending more money and adding more troops. We need to end this. Redeployment needs to start now.
Mr. Speaker, we have before us a bipartisan resolution opposing the escalation of troops in Iraq. However, this debate is only the first step. The ultimate goal is to bring our troops home safely and swiftly. It is time for the President to listen to the American people. The best way to support our troops serving in Iraq is to say 'NO' to the President's escalation of the war. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this resolution.