Harkin amendment on troop down time blocked

JULY 12TH, 2007 | Harkin for Senate

Thursday, July 12, 2007, 2:45 PM By O.Kay Henderson

Senator Tom Harkin is lamenting the defeat of a proposal that would have required more time off duty before a soldier can be sent back into combat. “It would require that active duty troops receive as much time at home, recuperating and retraining, as they spend deployed in combat. Guard and reservists would receive three times as much time at home as they spend deployed,” Harkin says of the proposal. “Of course, the amendment allowed a presidential waiver if the troops are needed for an emergency.”

According to Harkin, many U.S. soldiers are on their third deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. “The Army Chief of Staff have warned congress that the current pace of combat deployment threatens to ‘break’ the Army,” Harkin says. Harkin, who is a Democrat, claims 56 senators backed the idea of requiring more time in the states for America’s soldiers before they’re sent back into combat.

“But, Republicans filibustered it and since you need 60 votes to break a filibuster, the amendment was killed,” Harkin says. The U.S. Senate is debating proposals that would force the president to take a new course in Iraq. Harkin calls the war “endless” and “pointless.”

Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, says he understands the “skepticism and apprehension among Americans” about the war in Iraq, but Grassley says as long as U.S. troops are in harm’s way, congress needs to back the course plotted by the commander-in-chief.

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