February 16, 2007

Contact: Lynne Weil, 202-225-5021

Lantos Says Strong Bipartisan Support for Iraq Resolution is a Message the Administration Cannot Ignore

Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), one of the three authors of today’s Iraq resolution and the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today greeted the bipartisan 246 to 182 vote for the measure as a resounding wake-up call for the White House.

“In November the voters made a clear statement about their stance on the war in Iraq,” Lantos noted. “And public opinion has demonstrably rejected the Administration’s escalation plan. Today the Congress made a bipartisan and strong statement affirming support for the troops and opposing the escalation. This is a powerful message expressing the people's will that the Administration cannot ignore.”

Lantos made this comment after the vote, which capped three days of debate. Here is a verbatim version of the remarks that Lantos made in the closing moments of today’s debate:

Verbatim, as delivered

Madame Speaker, as we come to the end of this debate, I want to commend every participant, on both sides, for conveying powerfully and eloquently their deeply-held views.

I started this debate in the firm belief that escalation is a flawed idea. After listening carefully for the past four days to all of my colleagues, I am more convinced than ever that escalation is a flawed idea.

Escalation is not only the wrong policy for the United States, it is also the wrong policy for Iraq. If Iraq is to succeed as a stable and prosperous state, it must learn to take responsibility. It must learn to take difficult decisions. It must amend its constitution in the interest of Iraqi reconciliation. It must devise an equitable law for sharing its oil and gas revenues. And it must take primary responsibility for its own security.

Unless we de-escalate, Iraq will never step up to the plate.

But that is not the only reason we must de-escalate. Unless we do so, our great nation will be unable to fulfill its many far-flung, global responsibilities. Unless we de-escalate, we will simply lack the resources for critical tasks here at home and overseas.

All of us, Madame Speaker, are passionately committed to supporting and defending our troops. In the coming weeks, my fellow Democrats and I will bring forth specific proposals to enhance this nation’s support and defense of our brave troops.

Madame Speaker, the American people are not well served by this surge and by our present course in Iraq. The omelet cannot be unscrambled. There have been far too many mistakes made to undo the damage. For the sake of Iraq, for the sake of our national interest, and for the sake of our incomparable troops, de-escalation must begin, and it must begin now.

I strongly support our resolution, and I urge all my colleagues to do so.