From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Statement on Post-War Iraq

September 16, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today at a news conference held with Congressman John Murtha to discuss post-war Iraq:

“I am pleased to be here today with Congressman John Murtha, the Ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

“Mr. Murtha is a decorated Vietnam veteran. Among his awards is the Purple Heart. For his 30 years in Congress, he has championed the interests of our military men and women. I have seen the esteem with which Mr. Murtha held when I had the privilege of joining him to visit our troops in the Persian Gulf a few days before hostilities began.

“During that visit, Mr. Murtha raised questions about the military’s ability to sustain this force for an extended period of time. I also saw firsthand his personal concern for brave Marines and Navy personnel when we visited Bethesda Naval Hospital.

“Under Mr. Murtha’s leadership, Democrats in Congress will be sure that our troops have what they need to accomplish their mission and return home safely.

“In his remarks today, Congressman Murtha made a compelling case about what has gone wrong in Iraq. For too long, the Bush Administration's approach to bringing stability to Iraq has relied on U.S. troops taking almost all the risks, and American taxpayers paying virtually all the bills.

“It is clear that whatever plan may have existed for dealing with post-war Iraq, that plan has failed. That failure is the result of miscalculations and faulty assumptions by the Administration. These miscalculations have been extremely costly.

“One week into the war, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, told Mr. Murtha’s Appropriations subcommittee on defense: ‘We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.’ How wrong that was.

“While our military men and women prevailed in battle through their exceptional courage and skill, bringing stability and security to Iraq is far from accomplished.

“As we have seen in recent weeks, there are enormous problems in Iraq. The condition of Iraq’s infrastructure is worse than expected, unemployment is much higher, and opposition is much more intense.

“On September 7, the President presented American taxpayers with the bill for these miscalculations: $87 billion dollars in additional spending. It is likely only a matter of time before even more money will be required.

“We are already facing a nearly half trillion-dollar deficit, and American taxpayers deserve to know how this spending will affect our ability to address the unmet needs in our own country.

“Congress will not hand the President a blank check.

“President Bush and the architects of this failed Iraq policy must tell the American people the truth: How did this happen? How did the Administration spend the $63 billion that Congress already provided, and why were the shortages Congressman Murtha mentioned not addressed before the war began?

“Where is the detailed plan for future spending? Where is the plan to stabilize and rebuild Iraq?

“The stakes in Iraq are too high to continue on the Administration’s current course. We must succeed in Iraq for our sake as well as that of the people of Iraq and their neighbors.

“Success is going to require a much more sensible approach than has been taken thus far, and we are quickly running out of time to implement it.”

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