Tester: It’s time for different direction in Iraq

Senator explains support for Iraq resolution on Senate Floor

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – After weeks of calling for long-overdue debate on the war in Iraq, Montana Senator Jon Tester today explained on the Senate Floor why he supports a new measure changing the direction of the war.

"Our troops have done an incredible job. Their families have given far more than most of us can imagine," Tester said. "Our troops need a plan for success and a clear mission. The current plan of stay-the-course has failed. We now have an open commitment with no end in sight."

In today's Senate Floor speech Tester reminded his colleagues that 17 Montanans are among the nearly 3,200 American war deaths.  Tester also noted the war currently costs the United States $2 billion every week. 

Tester, along with Senator Max Baucus, signed on as a co-sponsor of the binding resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 9) last week. The measure:

  • Focuses the U.S. military on fighting terrorism rather than policing a bloody civil war.
  • Revises the mission in Iraq to protect U.S. interests, train Iraqi forces and respond to terrorist threats.
  • Sets a goal to get most of U.S. troops out of Iraq    by the end of March 2008.
  • Prompts President Bush to engage in diplomatic dialogue with other countries in the Middle East.

"The combined effort of this legislation will allow Iraq to stand on its own two feet," Tester said on the Senate Floor. "I urge my colleagues to look beyond partisan politics and vote for a long overdue change of course for this four-year-old war."

Tester, a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, has recently expressed concern that the Veterans Administration isn't prepared to handle the influx of wounded U.S. troops returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  During today's speech Tester said war has left an entire generation marked by battlefield injuries.

Tester plans to host another listening session to hear from veterans tomorrow (Friday) afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at the Dillon Elks Club, 27 East Center Street, in Dillon, Mont.