Washington - United States Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today delivered a speech on the Senate floor challenging the Bush administration's current Middle East policy and reiterating his call for transitioning U.S. forces out of Iraq. Menendez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, voted against the resolution to authorize force in Iraq as a member of the House of Representatives in 2002. He has been a consistent and forceful opponent of this administration's ill-conceived, ill-timed, and ill-advised foreign policy in Iraq.

"I am disappointed in my Senate colleagues who voted against debating Senator Warner's resolution on Iraq," Menendez said. "Today is an opportunity for every member of this Senate to be a profile in courage. I believe that those who support the President's ill-advised plan should be willing to stand behind that principle and go on record rather than hide behind parliamentary maneuvers to avoid a vote."

Regarding plans to escalate the Iraq War, Menendez said all good options in this war have been exhausted by this administration's bungling of the planning and prosecution of this conflict.

"It is only by setting a date certain for our troops to leave, that Iraqis will have to take responsibility for security in their country and work out their political power struggles," he said. "Right now, as much as they dislike us being there, we still bear the true burden for trying to stop the violence. And the Iraqis have little incentive to work out their turf wars over political power as long as we are in the country."

# # #