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House Approves Iraq Resolution

Yarmuth: Vote Sends Signal to White House to Halt Escalation, Change Course

(Washington, DC)  Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) voted to approve the House resolution, which urges the President not to proceed with his plan to escalate the war in Iraq.

The House passed the bill this afternoon by a vote of 246 to 182.

Yesterday, Congressman Yarmuth addressed the House of Representatives in support of the resolution, which is supported by seven out of ten Americans.  The text of his remarks are below:

Mr. Speaker, four years ago I was just like most other Americans, trying to evaluate the President's plan to invade Iraq. Unlike most Americans, I was writing a newspaper column and was expected to take a public position on such a critical national policy.

But like most Americans, I was unburdened by the classified and faulty intelligence provided to members of Congress. I concluded, and wrote, that the claims made to justify the American invasion of Iraq were baseless - that there were no weapons of mass destruction; that Iraq posed no immediate threat to the United States; that Saddam Hussein was not in any way connected to the 9/11 attacks; and finally that Iraq was not a safe harbor for al Qaeda.

I also concluded, and wrote, that we were rushing into Iraq with no idea of what we would do after the inevitable overthrow of the Iraqi regime; and also that we had no plan for getting out.

Two months later, when the President stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier and pronounced "Mission Accomplished," I predicted that the scene would end up in Democratic campaign commercials.

The point of all this reminiscing is not to show that I was so smart. Nor is it to say "I told you so." Four years later, as our men and women are still dying in Iraq, we all know everything there is to know about the situation there. We know as much, if not more, than the President of the United States, and our ideas about the conflict are just as valid.

And that is why this resolution is so important, and this debate so significant. Tomorrow we will be voting on what may be only a non-binding resolution, but it is a resounding and unequivocal expression of the national will.

This is not simply a group of congressmen and women explaining their votes; it is the echo of an overwhelming majority of Americans who are demanding a new direction in Iraq. It is the sound of scores of people like me, who were sent here by citizens to turn the ship of state around.

During this momentous debate we have heard from some on the other side of the aisle that the resolution we will most surely adopt and the discussion we are having, somehow undermine our national interests. I believe they are selling this institution short. What we are doing is showing the world exactly what freedom and democracy can be. We are displaying for the world what a government of the people, by the people and for the people really looks like.

What we are doing here this week speaks far more clearly and loudly than our bullets and our rockets. When the United States government shows the world how it reflects the will of its citizens, we may not shock the world, but we make it watch in awe.

James Madison wrote that the role of Congress is to "expand and refine the public view." He accurately perceived that on most questions, Americans assume that their representatives will consider their desires and work out the details. In the present situation, I believe the American people are shouting at us that it is time to get our men and women out of harm's way in Iraq, and I will cast my vote not simply to oppose the President's escalation, but as a statement that this Congress will no longer abdicate its responsibility to expand and refine the public view.

Mr. Speaker, today I am as confident in my position as I was four years ago. I am confident because as I have listened to those who oppose this resolution, I hear only disingenuous rhetoric. The other side accuses us of trying to micromanage the Iraqi conflict, then says we should have our own plan. They accuse us of dishonoring our fallen heroes, but then offer no strategy for honoring them other than to simply send more brave soldiers in their place. They continue to talk about victory and defeat while virtually everyone agrees that we could never identify either. They say that this resolution is an empty political gesture and then say it is tantamount to surrender.

What they don't give us, and more importantly, what the President of the United States has not given us, are any reasons to believe that we are succeeding in Iraq, that the current plans increase the odds of our success, that we are any closer to eliminating the threat of terrorism, or finally, that the United States is enhancing its image around the world as the beacon of freedom.

We who support this resolution honor and respect our troops, we care deeply about the international reputation of our country, we are unequivocally committed to our nation's security, and we always want America to succeed. By supporting this resolution we undeniably succeed, because we honor our nation and its citizens, who have entrusted us with the simple but grave responsibility to listen to them. I yield back.