Marylanders in Congress welcome Iraq news
At least some of Maryland’s representatives in Washington welcomed the announcement by President Barack Obama on Friday that U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year.
“President Obama kept the promises he made when he campaigned for the office,” Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said in a statement. “Osama bin Laden was hunted down in Pakistan, the drawdown in Afghanistan has begun and with the President’s latest announcement, our brave men and women in uniform will be coming home to spend the holidays with their families."
Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin voted against the resolution that authorized the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, when he was a member of the House.
“We can’t change the past, but after years of calling for a new and more thoughtful approach, President Obama delivered on his pledge to withdraw our military from Iraq in a safe and stable manner,” the Maryland Democrat said. “The Iraqis can now take responsibility for the security and sustainability of their own nation.”
Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said he still believes Iraq “was the wrong war at the wrong time.”
“However,” he continued, “our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and Coast Guardsmen have done our nation proud. The excellence shown by our military has proven, yet again, that they are second to none. … I welcome home our brave servicemen and women, and hope that they will never again be separated from their families by violence and war.”
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, noted that Obama's announcement was "consistent with his past statements and abides by the timeline established in the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement written by the Bush Administration and Prime Minister Maliki's government."
"Our troops have carried out their mission with dedication and have made great sacrifices in order to help advance a stable Iraq," the Southern Maryland lawmaker said. "Today, as we begin the transition to a new relationship with Iraq, we honor the more than 4,000 servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq, and we redouble our commitment to those who have returned home.
"I hope as we move forward that the Iraqi government will succeed in confronting the challenges of remaining democratic, representative, and free; succeed in providing for the security of the Iraqi people; and succeed as a model democracy in a region undergoing many critical transitions."
Cardin tallied the costs of the war.
“More than 4,700 Americans and allies — including 72 Marylanders — gave their lives,” he said. “Nearly 32,000 were wounded, more than $800 billion dollars were spent, and the sacrifice of the families waiting and worrying at home has been immeasurable.”
Now, Cardin said, "we will do everything possible to support the health and well-being of the brave men and women who are returning home from war.”