Washington - United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today released a statement on the Iraq War, the Senate Republicans' recent efforts to thwart honest debate on the Iraq War escalation, and on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' refusal to testify before the Senate Budget Committee.

"Our expenditures in Iraq saddle the nation's future. The Congress has already appropriated $379 billion in Iraq and President Bush is now asking for an additional $179 billion. To not have the Secretary of Defense come before the Senate Budget Committee to make the case for this request blows my mind.

"We spend over eight billion dollars a month, two billion dollars a week, $280 million every day, and $11 and half million an hour in Iraq. And to think we can't get the Secretary of Defense to come before the Senate Budget Committee to justify it. That's outrageous.

"The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction released a new report saying that the Bush administration can't account for critical defense material including over $36 million in weapons. And the administration wants more money.

"We need to get past the politeness of budget speak. Beyond the economic cost of this war is its true cost: 3,084 American lives. That's invaluable. There can be no cost associated with it. Over 23,000 sons and daughters of America who are wounded in ways that will affect their lives forever.

"Now there is talk of escalation. Just today we learned from the Congressional Budget Office that the escalation proposed by President Bush will easily cost triple what the administration has told us.

"And then we have a BusinessWeek article that tells us, 'the Pentagon has failed to properly equip soldiers in Iraq.' The Pentagon has failed to equip those who are there now, even before we send anybody else there. It's beyond belief.

"It is quite clear that the Senate Republicans can't handle the truth on this issue. All they've done is delay honest debate on a foreign policy that has been failed and misguided from the beginning. If Senate Republicans want to turn their backs on the American people and cast their lots with the president, then so be it. But let them be on record as supporters of President Bush's ill-advised plan for escalation."

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