A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
House Military Authorization Bill Requires Unprecedented Oversight for Withdrawal from Iraq and Recognition of U.S.-Iraq accordHouse Military Authorization Bill Requires Unprecedented Oversight for Withdrawal from Iraq and Recognition of U.S.-Iraq accord
For Immediate Release
Contact: Kate Gould (email@example.com)
June 26, 2009
The House of Representatives in late June passed the first legislation affirming the United States legal agreement with Iraq to withdrawal all U.S. military troops from that country by December 31, 2011. In one of the strongest signs yet that Congress is committed to ending the war in Iraq, the House approved a military authorization bill that established Congressional oversight of the Pentagon's plans for withdrawing from Iraq and requires reporting every three months on progress in ending U.S. military involvement in Iraq.
As a Quaker lobby, the Friends Committee on National Legislation has opposed any legislation that would authorize new U.S. military spending for war in Iraq. However, FCNL strongly supports congressional recognition and oversight of the U.S. obligation to completely withdraw from Iraq.
"This new reporting requirement is a significant victory in our efforts to ensure that the Pentagon stays on course to end the war and occupation in Iraq," says Jim Fine, FCNL's Legislative Secretary on Foreign Policy. "Up until this point, Congress had not formally acknowledged this U.S-Iraq withdrawal agreement that both countries are legally bound to uphold. We would like to thank Chairman Ike Skelton for including this language in the bill."
The agreement is also important because of contradictory statements coming from the different administration officials. President Barack Obama has declared that the United States will "honor our agreement with Iraq's democratically elected government to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by July, and to remove all of our troops from Iraq by 2012". However, some Pentagon officials have made statements that seemed to imply the U.S. might not withdraw all military troops from Iraq. For instance, the Army Chief of Staff General Casey has said that in what he called a "reality scenario" tens of thousands of U.S. troops would remain in Iraq for a decade.
The war supplemental funding bill passed earlier this month by Congress required reporting on the pace of military withdrawal in support of the president's policy. The parallel provision in the military authorization bill requires much more detailed, in-depth reporting by the Pentagon. The House vote on June 25th is also the first time Congress is on the record not only recognizing the U.S.-Iraq security agreement, but also requiring progress reports to ensure U.S. obligations of that agreement are met.
This new Iraq withdrawal oversight mechanism would require the Pentagon to report to six congressional committees every 3 months on:
- U.S. troop numbers and type by month and estimated troop levels 3 mo thereafter
- The number and type of U.S. military installations in Iraq and progress made to close or transfer those military facilities to Iraqi authority
- The pace of military vehicles and other equipment being removed from Iraq, and an assessment of how to handle the remaining property of the Department of Defense before 2012.
- The progress made to release Iraqi detainees from U.S. custody or transfer them to Iraqi detainees, as required by the U.S.-Iraq security agreement.
FCNL encourages the Senate to include or strengthen these oversight mechanisms in its version of the military authorization bill to help ensure that every step along the way, Congress monitors the progress made towards complete withdrawal from Iraq.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation, the oldest registered religious lobby in Washington, is a non-partisan Quaker lobby in the public interest. FCNL works with a nationwide network of tens of thousands of people from every state in the U.S. to advocate for social and economic justice, peace, and good government. For more information: http://www.fcnl.org