Majority Leader Hoyer and Caucus Chairman Emanuel on Troop Extensions

April 11, 2007
Blog
As noted earlier this morning here, and confirmed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates this afternoon, "Tours of duty for members of the U.S. Army will be extended from 12 months to 15 months effective immediately."

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer:

"The Defense Department announcement today that all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve three months longer than the usual standard undercuts the President's claim that Congress is straining the military and keeping soldiers from their families - and exposes it as nothing more than empty political rhetoric.

"Military leaders have made it clear that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have strained our military. That is why Democrats inserted an additional $2.5 billion for troop readiness in the Iraq Accountability Act.

"I commend our brave servicemen and women for their dedication to our country and have no doubt that they will continue to serve with distinction. But it is time for the President to sit down with Democrats for a real discussion on how to forge a new direction in Iraq that protects our nation and our soldiers."

Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel:

"What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, extending tours of duty was 'unacceptable' to the President. Today, it is Pentagon policy. American troops and taxpayers are paying the price for a war with no end in sight."

The announcement comes only one day after President Bush stated:

"The bottom line is this: Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated. This is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me, it's unacceptable to our veterans, it's unacceptable to our military families, and it's unacceptable to many in this country."

UPDATE:

Majority Whip Clyburn on Army Tour of Duty Extension:

Today's news clearly refutes the President's statement that Congress is straining military families. It is the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan that have failed to provide for our men and women in uniform serving overseas.

How much burden must our military and their families shoulder? This extended duty will create further stress on our soldiers and their loved-ones and decimate military recruiting and readiness. I worry the damage will become irreversible.

Democrats have provided funding in the Iraq Accountability Act to train and equip our troops on the ground and improve military readiness. We remain hopeful that the president will work with us to provide these resources to our armed forces.