What Would the Levin Amendment Do? (Sen. Mitch McConnell)

The Senate has now had a full day to debate the Levin Amendment. And the questions I raised about it yesterday remain unanswered.  Americans need to know what they’re being asked to consider.  The troops who are fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq need to know.  So I’ll ask my questions again.

The Levin Amendment says the Secretary of Defense shall "commence the reduction of the number of United States forces in Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act."
What would this reduction involve?

The Levin Amendment calls for U.S. forces in Iraq to have ‘a limited presence’ after the reduction.

What is a limited presence?

The Levin Amendment says our Armed Forces should only be used to protect U.S. personnel, to train Iraqis to fight, and to engage in "targeted counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda."

What does "targeted" mean?

The Levin Amendment says "the Secretary of Defense shall complete the transition of U.S. forces in Iraq to a limited presence and missions by April 30."

How does the author define "complete"?

A number of papers across America reported this morning that yesterday’s House vote means that "most" U.S. troops would be out of Iraq by April?

I ask the authors of the Levin Amendment, is this true?

This one and a half page amendment is the centerpiece of the Democratic Leadership’s strategy for Iraq.  They want us to choose this over the Petraeus Plan.

Now listen to General Petraeus.  Just before we began this debate, he made a simple request: "I can think of few commanders in history who wouldn’t have wanted more troops, more time or more unity among their partners.  However, if I could only have one thing at this point in Iraq, it would be more time."

A Democratic-led Senate voted to 81-0 to send General Petraeus into Iraq.  A bipartisan majority of 80 senators told him in May that he had until September to report back on progress.  His strategy has led to what even skeptics describe as an encouraging turnaround against Al Qaeda in Anbar, a province which accounts for about one third of Iraq’s territory.

Yet just one month after this strategy became fully-manned, Democrats are declaring it a failure and asking us to rally behind a one-and-a-half page alternative that raises more questions than it answers.

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