Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today introduced a bi-partisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act requiring that active-duty troops and units have at least equal time at home as the length of their previous tour overseas. The amendment also sets a minimum 1-to-3 year ratio for National Guard and Reserve members and units.
Thirty-one members of the Senate have signed onto Webb’s amendment as original co-sponsors, including Senator Chuck Hagel, the lead Republican cosponsor. …
Senator Webb’s amendment sets a floor for minimum periods between deployments for both units and members. It states that if a unit or member of a regular component of the Armed Forces is deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, they will have the same time at home—“dwell time”—before being redeployed. Guard and Reserve units and members will have a minimum floor of three years dwell time prior to being redeployed.
The amendment, however, states that the ideal rotation scenarios are a 1-to-2 deployment-to-dwell ratio for active duty troops and five years between subsequent deployments for the Guard and Reserve. The amendment also states the sense of Congress that units and members of Reserve components should not be mobilized continuously for more than one year.
Jim Webb made an exclusive video to explain why Congress must support the troops and pass the “Webb Amendment,” on Wednesday. He asks us to call our elected officials and tell them to support this very simple, but important measure. It received 56 votes last time it was introduced, but was filibustered by the Rubber Stamp Republicans which included McConnell and Warner.
The Webb Amendment is a powerful piece of legislation, backed by the Military Officers Association and many military families who are seeing their loved ones deployed over and over again until their marriages and their finances are at a breaking point. Although it may serve to force the administration to withdraw troops more quickly than they wish to, this is not a political ploy. Even before the surge, experts said that the Iraq war was breaking the military. Now it is far worse. Someone has to step in and do something about this problem and it’s obvious it isn’t going to be the Republican party.
Until today, it was looking very promising that Webb might get the 60 votes needed to override a filibuster. Vulnerable Republicans and those in states with a heavy military presence heard an earful from their constituents on this subject over the summer recess. But with His Eminence Warner now making little whimpering noises that he will accept the useless little Christmas sugar plum from the White House instead of backing it, he may give cover to enough wavering Republicans to derail this popular, necessary legislation.
There is a lot of rhetorical abuse around the idea of supporting the troops. Well, Senators Webb (D-VA) and Hagel (R-NE) — both decorated veterans — have re-introduced legislation that is unambiguous on the subject. Anyone who votes against this bill is clearly a hypocrite who is simply supporting unending war.
Thanks to President Bush’s ill-conceived troop surge, our soldiers serving in Iraq face the daily stress of maintaining a military occupation under constant attack, all the while being away from their support network of friends and family for multiple — and often suddenly-extended — tours of duty.
Senators Webb and Hagel are introducing an amendment this week to provide relief for our overextended troops. It ensures that active-duty troops spend equal amounts of time at home between deployments as they did in a combat zone; it also mandates that Guard and Reserve units cannot be redeployed until they have been home for three times the length of their first tour of duty. This legislation will not only provide our troops with the rest & recovery periods they need and deserve; it will also clip President Bush’s wings and force him to begin drawing down the number of troops in Iraq.
The Democrats should offer the Webb Amendment when the Defense Appropriation comes up. If the Republicans want to filibuster, fine. Don’t pull the amendment. Just let them keep filibustering. As long as the amendment is on the floor, there can be no vote on the bill itself. Keep calling cloture votes, one per day. After a few days, start asking how long the Republicans intend to withhold money to fund troops in the field in order to pursue their petty partisan agenda.
If the Republicans in the Senate hold firm, it’s their stubbornness that’s holding up the bill. If they fold, and the bill gets to the President’s desk and he vetoes it, then pass the same damned bill again. And start asking how long the President intends to block funding for troops in the field in order to pursue his petty partisan agenda.
As of October 1, there’s no money to fund the war. So the usual move is to pass a continuing resolution, which keeps the money flowing until the appropriation passes. Fine. Pass a continuing resolution with the Webb Amendment attached. If the CR runs into a filibuster or a veto, ask how long …
Really, this isn’t very hard. With the voters overwhelmingly interested in getting us the hell out of Iraq, the Democrats can make full use of the power of the purse without worrying about a backlash, especially with Webb as the public face of the campaign.
Me: There’s also a “write your senators” form on this page. Do it. Do it this morning.
Please call and ask these senators to support Jim Webb’s pro-troop amendment:
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
DC: (202) 224-3353
Cleveland: (216) 522-7095
Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina)
John Warner (R-Virginia) *
DC: (202) 224-2023
Roanoke: (540) 857-2676
Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky)
Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951
Bonus – Ask Harry Reid to “don’t let Republicans obstruct – make them stand and filibuster”:
Las Vegas: 702-388-5020
* Warner originally supported the bill, but yesterday word got out that he is reconsidering. The President has made noises about bringing a few thousand troops home by Christmas, and “There is a lot of importance in that,” Warner says. However, the troops designated to come home before Christmas were scheduled to come home before Christmas, anyway. Bush isn’t giving away a damn thing. And the fact that some troops are coming home doesn’t relieve the exhaustion of those who remain. Warner needs to hear that some of us know a scam when we see it.
See also: Taylor Marsh.