Saturday, November 19, 2005

Jay Inslee Defends Murtha, Explains Vote

"As you may have heard, the House voted tonight on a nonbinding resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. This resolution was introduced by a Republican in an effort to trivialize a serious exit plan proposed by Representative John Murtha, an influential Democrat from Pennsylvania and decorated Vietnam combat veteran.

I voted against this sham resolution, and I wanted to explain my vote and the circumstances that led to this irresponsible political stunt.

Yesterday, Representative Murtha introduced a bill that called for the withdrawal of American troops, the establishment of a rapid reaction force to respond to emergencies, and the pursuit of stability in Iraq through diplomatic means. Murtha said he believed the withdrawal could be accomplished in six months.

Representative Murtha is a retired Marine colonel with 37 years of military service. He is the ranking member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee and one of the House's leading experts on the military. He was also a supporter of the war in Iraq. Yet he has become convinced that keeping our military in Iraq is not bringing us closer to victory there, but is instead exposing our troops to harm, encouraging and uniting the insurgency, and weakening our armed forces at a time we can scarcely afford it.

Whether or not you agree with Representative Murtha's proposal, it deserved serious debate. Instead, Republican leadership embarked on a campaign to discredit Murtha and trivialize his bill.

Representative Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, introduced a one sentence bill that stated: "it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."

Throughout the evening, Republicans referred to Hunter's bill as the "Murtha resolution." They repeated it so many times that several news outlets also took to calling it the Murtha resolution. But the fact is, Hunter's bill was a shell of Murtha's proposal that approached the subject of withdrawing American forces with the same lack of foresight and consideration that went into the decision to invade.

Instead of engaging in an important and much needed debate, House Republicans staged a piece of political theater stunning in its lack of responsibility and its lack of shame. Their goal was to back Democrats into a corner by forcing them to vote on a bad bill. I refused to take the bait, and joined my Democratic colleagues in voting no.

There is nothing I want more than to bring our troops home as soon as possible. I also believe that the Iraqi people deserve an opportunity to establish a stable democratic government. Our current course, an indefinite occupation with no exit strategy, is not moving us towards either of those goals.

Next week, I will be traveling to Iraq to meet with American troops and Iraqi leaders to learn firsthand about the challenges we are facing. I will report my findings to you when I return. Please rest assured that I will continue working to achieve peace in Iraq and to bring our soldiers home.

Very Truly Yours,

Jay Inslee."

David Sirota adds this commentary: "Rahm, Please Tell Us: How Many More Have to Die for It to Be "The Right Time?"

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