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After the Veto

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The ink on the President's veto is barely dry, and already, a lot of Washington insiders - including some Democrats -- are saying Congress should just give in to the President. Never mind how hard people have pushed to bring Congress to this point, when we are finally standing up to the President's disastrous Iraq policy -- they want to give up on the binding language in the bill requiring the President to begin redeploying troops from Iraq. But that's just letting the President have his way all over again. That's the kind of thinking that got us into this war in the first place, and it's not going to cut it anymore.

We can't keep giving in to this Administration on Iraq. Every time the Administration gets its way, it means that our troops will remain stuck in the middle of Iraq's civil war, and our national security will continue to be undermined. With so many Americans demanding that our involvement in this war come to an end, backing down is not the answer. No one else should die in Iraq to give political comfort to dealmakers in Washington.

I won't support a supplemental spending bill that doesn't have binding language to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq. There's a lot of talk right now about Democrats getting the President to sign a bill that only has benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet. But we're long past the point when just setting benchmarks was enough. Even if funding for the Iraqi government is conditioned on it meeting those benchmarks, that misses the main point -- which is that, whether or not the Iraqis meet their benchmarks, we need to get out of Iraq so that we can focus on the national security threats we face around the world. And if those benchmarks aren't binding, then they are nothing more than suggestions. The American people aren't asking us to offer suggestions to the Iraqis -- they are asking us to bring our troops out of Iraq.

The next step to ending the war isn't to give in, but to step up the pressure on the President. I'm pleased to be working with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on a bill to end our open-ended military commitment in Iraq. Now that the President has rejected the will of the American people with this veto, our bill, or some other proposal to end funding for a failed policy, should be the next step to end the war.

We are in the middle of a real test for the new Democratic Congress. No matter what Washington insiders say about cutting a deal or scoring political points, we need to hang tough to get our troops out of Iraq. The President has refused to budge on his Iraq policy from the beginning -- he has repeatedly gotten his way, and our country has paid a terrible price for that. Today, 150,000 U.S. troops are in the middle of a civil war that is straining our military, and hurting our ability to go after al Qaeda worldwide. Too much is at stake for us to back down -- the new Congress has got to stand firm. It's a time to listen to the American people and finally start to bring our troops out of Iraq. Their lives and our national security depend on it.