It was with great relief that I cast my vote last Thursday night in favor of the U.S. Troops Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 2007 – the bill to deliver much-needed resources to our Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This emergency funding was requested by U.S. military leaders nearly 110 days before Congressional Democratic leadership put forth this supplemental bill to provide $119.98 billion in discretionary funding, much of which will clothe, arm, and otherwise support our troops in the battlefield.

Members of Congress have an obligation to fund combat operations and military efforts, and last week with the passage of the War Supplemental, we fulfilled that obligation. What’s most important is that now our troops will receive the resources they need to do the job they have committed to do.

The War Supplemental does not constrain the administration’s ability to direct combat operations and does not mandate an arbitrary Iraq withdrawal date. But the resolution does condition U.S. strategy and economic aid to Iraq and its government meeting certain benchmarks and requires regular reports to allow Congress to gauge the Iraqi government’s efforts on behalf of its country.

I agree that it is important that the Iraqi government demonstrate its progress in taking responsibility for the country’s security, economy, and future. It is my hope that, by achieving and reporting on these benchmarks, the Iraqis will help determine the best course for their future.

As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet privately with Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus when he was nominated to serve as the commander for American and allied forces in Iraq. General Petraeus was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to lead in Iraq, and I am committed to supporting him, his efforts, and our troops in every way that I can. However, my support for the new strategy in Iraq is conditioned on seeing measurable progress by Iraqis in securing and reconstructing their country.

As I told General Petraeus in our January meeting, I am committed to giving his anti-insurgent plan, as well as new efforts to assure that Iraqi leadership takes responsibility for the country’s security, economy, and future, the chance to work. The General has indicated that he needs time to evaluate whether our new military strategy for Iraq is working and should be able to assess that progress this fall. September will come soon enough, and we will determine our continued efforts from there. But for now, the priority is providing the military with the funds they need. I was glad to help accomplish that last week.