I am passionately opposed to the war in Iraq. I am committed to bringing our brave troops home and sickened by the prospect of prolonging this tragic and unnecessary conflict.

And I have made a very difficult decision – by far the most difficult I have ever made in public service.

In our efforts to end this war, we in Congress are faced with imperfect options. The U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Health, and Iraq Accountability Act upon which we voted Friday is a strong bill and will do much to hasten our withdrawal from Iraq. But it is a flawed bill, an imperfect bill. I had hoped for a more aggressive measure and, in past weeks, considered voting against it.

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I was an original supporter of the amendment offered by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), which called for a fully-funded, immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Regrettably, that amendment was rejected before it could even be considered on the floor. It is clear that more aggressive measures to curtail the president’s power would be destined for the same fate in this body.

The harsh reality is that we must deal in the world of the possible, not the ideal. I wish we could do more and do it quickly. But this bill, for all its faults, is the best we can hope to pass at this time. As such, and not without misgivings, I have decided that passing this law is the best first step we can take toward ending the war in Iraq.

Defeat of this bill, even on principled grounds, may ultimately prolong this war. That is something I cannot and will not stand for.

I carefully considered voting against this bill and holding out for something more aggressive and restrictive. But, having watched this debate unfold, I am convinced that such a proposal would not pass. If our true aim is bringing this war to a close as quickly as possible, we must support the most aggressive legislation that is passable, not simply the most aggressive legislation.

If we held out for the ideal and failed to pass this bill, we may congratulate ourselves tomorrow for standing up for our principles. But the hard truth is that our principled inaction risks sentencing our brave men and women in uniform to more tours of duty, more street patrols, more IED attacks – all because we failed to distinguish between what we want to do and what we are able to do.

This bill will require withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Iraq if its conditions are not met. It will hold the Iraqi government officials accountable for their action and inaction. It will greatly increase funding for the care of our veterans, who have been neglected upon their return from heroic and frequently traumatic service abroad. It will appropriate deeply needed funds to restore our proud military to a state of strength and readiness.

This is an imperfect bill. But, for all its flaws, it is the right first step.