Asserting the ongoing Iraq War has damaged the nation’s reputation as well as its economic standing, Democratic leaders urged a shift to largely domestic issues in wide-ranging speeches Friday timed to pre-empt the president’s State of the Union speech next week.
“The moral authority of our great nation has suffered grave damage,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who appeared with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at the National Press Club for the speech dubbed the “State of Our Union.”
In separate speeches, the Democratic leaders touched on numerous domestic issues, including the economy, health care, education, infrastructure and the environment while condemning the Bush administration’s continued support for the Iraq War and associated spending.
“Our nation has the resources, both the human resources and the financial resources, to meet these challenges and strengthen and expand the middle class. We only require the will to make this vision a reality,” Pelosi said. “We need to restore America’s leadership in the world, and we truly need a new direction in Iraq.”
She went on to contrast war spending with the costs of domestic items including cancer research, college costs and children’s health insurance, stating: “It is not a matter of resources, it is a matter of making the right choice for America.”
In addition, Reid issued a demand that the Bush administration must seek Congressional approval before entering into any long-term accords with the Iraqi government.
“The president is on notice: He cannot do that unilaterally,” Reid said. “Any long-term deal must meet the approval of Congress. And the majority of this Congress wants to responsibly end the war so that we can turn to other critical challenges.”
The Senate leader also vowed to revisit failed legislation that would have provided additional rest time to troops between deployments to war zones.
— Jennifer Yachnin