Webb-Hagel Troop Deployment Amendment Co-sponsored By Menendez

Webb-Hagel Troop Deployment Amendment Co-sponsored By Menendez

Menendez speaks on Senate floor in favor of proposal to support the troops by ensuring they have time to recover at home

Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today spoke out on the Senate floor in favor of the Webb-Hagel amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill - an amendment that would ensure troops have time at home equal to their previous tour overseas. The amendment is meant to address the issues of troops wearing down from extended tours in Iraq and the military's long term ability to deal with other international threats.

"This is about preserving the troops, enhancing their abilities and, in the long term, being able to continue to enlist people who want to serve their country and who bear the overwhelming burden of the national security of the United States," said Menendez, a co-sponsor of the amendment. "We are providing here a plan to fully support our troops who volunteered to put their lives on the line for our country.... Our brave troops answered the call of duty. Let us now do what is right by them."

Full, unofficial transcript of Menendez's floor statement:

{12:22:58 NSP} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MR. MENENDEZ: MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE IN STRONG SUPPORT OF THE WEBB-HAGEL AMENDMENT. BOTH OF OUR COLLEAGUES HAVE SERVED OUR COUNTRY NOT ONLY IN THE SENATE, BUT ALSO IN UNIFORM AND THEY HAVE DONE SO HONORABLY. SO THEY SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE, AND I FOR ONE DON'T QUESTION THEIR SINCERITY OF PURPOSE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT EVERY MEMBER OF THE SENATE -- HOW THEY DECIDE ON HOW THEY'LL CAST THEIR VOTE, BUT I DON'T QUESTION THEIR SINCERITY OF PURPOSE OF WHAT THEY ARE DRIVING AT. THIS IS ABOUT

{12:23:28} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

PRESERVING OUR TROOPS, ENHANCING THEIR ABILITIES, AND IN THE LONG TERM, BEING ABLE TO CONTINUE TO ENLIST PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SERVE THEIR COUNTRY WHO BEAR THE OVERWHELMING BURDEN OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF THE UNITED STATES BY A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION. THAT'S WHAT I BELIEVE THAT SENATOR WEBB IS DOING, AND THAT'S WHY I JOIN HIM STRONGLY IN SUPPORT OF HIS AMENDMENT AS WELL AS SENATOR HAGEL'S. THIS AMENDMENT PROVIDES AN IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY TO RECOGNIZE THE COURAGEOUS EFFORTS OF OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM. THIS AMENDMENT PROVIDES A CRITICAL OPPORTUNITY TO ENSURE THE CARE AND SAFETY OF OUR

{12:24:04} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

TROOPS, THE CARE AND SAFETY OF OUR TROOPS NOW, BUT I WOULD ARGUE NOT ONLY NOW, BUT FOR THE LONG TERM. THOSE WHO BELIEVE THIS AMENDMENT IS ONLY WITH NOW, TO CHANGE THE CURRENT COURSE OF EVENTS, I BELIEVE THE AMENDMENT HAS LONG-STANDING IMPORT, NOW AND FOR THE LONG TERM. IT SETS OUR POLICY AS TO WHERE WE'RE GOING TO BE HEADED IN THE DEPLOYMENT OF TROOPS, THE RESPITES THAT THEY NEED, THE ABILITY FOR US TO SUSTAIN A VOLUNTARY ARMY UNDER ALL OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS AMENDMENT PROVIDES A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR US IN THE SENATE TO IGNORE POLITICS AND WORK TOGETHER ON BEHALF OF OUR TR TROOPS. THIS AMENDMENT SIMPLY SAYS

{12:24:41} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

THAT OUR TROOPS SHOULD HAVE AT LEAST, AT LEAST THE SAME TIME AT HOME AS THEY SPEND ABROAD, DEPLOYED ABROAD. AND IT ENSURES THAT NO UNIT, INCLUDING THE NATIONAL GUARD, WHICH ARE CLEARLY CITIZEN SOLDIERS AND WHO HAVE BEEN ASKED TO DO FAR BEYOND WHAT THEY -- MANY OF THEM THOUGHT THEY WERE EVER GOING TO BE CALLED UPON TO DO ON BEHALF OF THEIR NATION, WOULD GET THE SAME TREATMENT. THIS AMENDMENT SIMPLY SAYS THAT AFTER 4 1/2 YEARS OF BRAVELY FIGHTING FOR OUR COUNTRY, WE MUST HONOR THE SACRIFICE

{12:25:15} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

OF THE TROOPS AND THEIR FAMILIES. AND THIS AMENDMENT SIMPLY

SAYS THAT WE MUST MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE TAKING CARE, UNDERLINE "TAKING CARE," OF OUR TROOPS. WE BELIEVE WE MUST PROTECT OUR TROOPS FIGHTING IN COMBAT NOW JUST AS WE MUST TAKE CARE OF OUR VETERANS WHEN THEY RETURN HOME FROM COMBAT. LET ME BE CLEAR. I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS AMENDMENT TIES THE HANDS OF THE ADMINISTRATION IN THE CASE OF A CLEAR THREAT TO OUR NATIONAL SECURITY. SENATOR WEBB HAS BEEN RESPONSIVE IN PROVIDING A FAIR

{12:25:50} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

AND REASONABLE WAIVER FOR THE PRESIDENT AS WELL AS A WAIVER FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS IN SERVICE WHO WANT TO VOLUNTEER TO RETURN EARLY. IF THEY WANT TO RETURN, IF THEY FEEL THEY ARE READY TO RETURN, THEY'LL BE ABLE TO DO SO AND PROVIDE THE CONTINUED LEADERSHIP THAT THEY HAVE BEEN PROVIDING. AND I'M SURE THAT MANY MAY. BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS THERE ARE MANY WHO MAY FEEL THEY CANNOT DO THAT. AND SO THEREFORE THEIR ABILITY TO PERFORM AT THE OPTIMUM IS NOT BEING PRESERVED UNDER THE PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS AMENDMENT ALSO RESPONDS TO SPECIFIC

{12:26:24} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

CONCERNS RAISED BY THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE AND OTHER MILITARY LEADERS. IT ALLOWS THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TIME FOR A TRANSITION PERIOD, FOR AN IMPLEMENTATION PERIOD THAT IS WELL WITHIN THE SCOPE OF WHAT IS NECESSARY. IT ALSO PROVIDES A SPECIFIC EXEMPTION FOR SPECIAL OPERATION FORCES SINCE THE NATURE OF THEIR DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE IS MUCH DIFFERENT. SO I THINK SENATOR WEBB HAS LISTENED AND RESPONDED SINCE THE LAST TIME HE OFFERED THIS AMENDMENT, AS HAS SENATOR HAGEL. NOW, UNFORTUNATELY, THE WAR IN IRAQ HAS TAKEN A TERRIBLE TOLL ON OUR

{12:26:55} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

MILITARY. I'M DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT OUR GROUND FORCES. I'M DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT SEVERE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES SUCH AS POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS SY SYNDROME, WHICH COME OUT OF EXTENDED AND REPEATED DEPLOYMENTS. I'M DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT OUR ABILITY TO RETAIN EXPERIENCED SERVICE MEMBERS AND OUR ABILITY TO RECRUIT NEW FORCES. CLEARLY, IF SOMEONE IS LOOKING AT WHETHER OR NOT TO BE ENGAGED IN ADDITION TO THEIR GREAT DESIRE TO SERVE THEIR COUNTRY, AND ESPECIALLY IF THEY HAVE FAMILY, THEY'RE GOING TO BE LO LOOKING AT WELL, HOW ARE THESE DEPLOYMENTS TAKING PLACE AND ARE THEY TAKING PLACE IN SUCH A

{12:27:30} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

WAY THAT I CAN RESPOND TO MY DESIRE TO SERVE, BUT ALSO BE ABLE TO SUSTAIN MY FAMILY. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE TO PASS THIS AMENDMENT. IT'S ABOUT NOW AND THE LONG TE TERM. NOW, SOME HERE HAVE ARGUED THAT CONGRESS SHOULD NOT INTERFERE, BUT YOU KNOW, THE FOUNDING FATHERS PUT IT RIGHT UP THERE EARLY IN THE CONSTITUTION. THEY DIDN'T WAIT FOR VARIOUS LATER ARTICLES. THEY PUT IT RIGHT UP THERE. ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8 OF THE

{12:28:02} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

CONSTITUTION, WHERE THEY GAVE THE CONGRESS THE RIGHT, THE POWER TO MAKE RULES FOR THE GOVERNMENT AND REGULATION OF THE LAND AND NAVAL FORCES. NOW, I'VE HEARD OTHER STATUTORY REFERENCES HERE, BUT NONE OF THOSE STATUTORY REFERENCES HAVE THE POWER TO UNDERMINE THE CONSTITUTION. THE CONSTITUTION IS SUPREME. IT COMES FIRST ABOVE ALL OTHER ACTS. AND SO THEREFORE, THE FOUNDERS UNDERSTOOD HOW IMPORTANT IT WAS FOR THE CONGRESS TO HAVE THE ROLE TO MAKE RULES FOR THE GOVERNMENT AND REGULATION OF THE LAND AND NAVAL FORCES, AND THEY PUT IT UP EARLY IN THE

{12:28:35} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

CONSTITUTION TO MAKE IT VERY CLEAR. THOSE WHO WISH TO IGNORE OR REJECT THAT PROVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION, IN MY MIND, UNDERMINE THE CONSTITUTION BY DOING SO. NOW, THIS PRESIDENT OFTEN ACTS LIKE THE ONLY ROLE FOR THE CONGRESS IS TO PROVIDE A BLANK CHECK FOR HIS FAILED WAR POLICY. I BELIEVE HE IS DEFINITELY WRONG IN BELIEVING THAT THE CONGRESS' ONLY ROLE IS TO PROVIDE A BLANK CHECK. THAT IS NOT THE ROLE OF THE CONGRESS. AS A MATTER OF FACT, THAT WOULD BE AN ABDICATION OF THE DUTIES

{12:29:09} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CONGRESS IN ITS ROLE UNDER THE CONSTITUTION. WE HAVE A FIDUCIARY RESPONSIBILITY TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BOTH IN NATIONAL TR TREASURES AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, IN LIVES. AND WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO THE MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM. THIS AMENDMENT BEFORE US REFLECTS THE REALITY ON THE GROUND AND THE WILL OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE WELFARE OF THOSE SACRIFICING THE MOST. I'VE HEARD A LOT FROM OUR COLLEAGUES IN THE TIME I'VE BEEN HERE IN THE SENATE AND BEFORE IN THE HOUSE ABOUT SUPPORTING OUR

{12:29:40} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

TROOPS. WELL, WE ARE PROVIDING HERE A PLAN TO FULLY SUPPORT OUR TROOPS WHO VOLUNTEERED TO PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE FOR OUR COUNTRY. SENATOR WEBB HAS REFERRED TO T THE MILITARY OFFICERS ASSOCIATION'S UNUSUAL OR ACTION OF SUPPORTING THIS AMENDMENT. I THINK WE NEED TO LISTEN TO

{ NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT OF THE SENATE PROCEEDINGS.}

WE BELIEVE THIS IS IN THE INTERESTS OF THOSE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVE, AND IT COMES FROM THE ASSOCIATION OF THOSE MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN SERVING. I'VE HEARD SO OFTEN OUR

COLLEAGUES TALK ABOUT LET'S LISTEN TO THOSE ON THE GROUND. WELL, THIS IS A REFLECTION OF THOSE IN BOOTS IN SERVICE./ OUR BRAVE TROOPS HAVE ANSWERED THE CALL OF DUTY. LET US NOW ANSWER THE CALL TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT BY THEM. I URGE ALL OF OUR

{12:30:38} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THIS AMENDMENT. IT GOES TO THE HEART OF HOW WE TRULY HONOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE SERVING OUR COUNTRY, SACRIFICING FOR OUR COUNTRY, AND, IN MY MI MIND, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT SU SUPPORTING THE TROOPS AND MAKING SURE THAT OUR LONG-TERM SECURITY CAN BE PRESERVED AND ENHANCED, IT GOES TO THE VERY CORE OF HOW WE ARE GOING TO TREAT THEM IN THEIR SERVICE. THAT'S WHY I STRONGLY SUPPORT SENATOR WEBB'S AND

{12:31:13} (MR. MENENDEZ) { NOT AN OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT }

SENATOR HA HAGEL'S AMENDMENT. AND I HOPE ALL OF OUR COLLEAGUES WILL DO SO AS WELL. AND WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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