His floor statement and his vote put him squarely in favor of President Bush's escalation of this war. This is his defining moment as a new member of Congress - Gus Bilirakis is for sending more troops into Iraq's civil war.
Here is the full text of his idiotic, misguided and irrational floor statement (apparently "status quo" was his word of the day):
(Mr. BILIRAKIS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, failure in Iraq is not an option. We enjoy our freedom today only because we have been willing to fight for it in the past. We must win the war on terror that has been thrust upon us.
Before going any further, let me first clearly state that I do not believe we should have an open-ended commitment in Iraq. I believe a new strategy is needed. America has a proud history of promoting and fighting for democracy around the globe. I don't believe now is the time to abandon that commitment.
While a new strategy is needed, the resolution that we are debating does not present us with any new policy options. Instead, we are voting on a nonbinding status quo resolution which will not do anything to change the situation in Iraq. It smacks of political posturing. Americans expect more of the world's greatest legislative body.
Let us not debase the honor and tradition of the great men and women who have served before us. We are duty bound to serve the public and engage in serious
lawmaking, not political pandering. This resolution does nothing. Worse, it endorses the status quo of the violence and bloodshed. Maintaining the status quo is what ultimately resulted in the situation we find ourselves in today.
The debate before is more consequential than the question of should we engage in a troop surge or not. None of us want to see Americans unnecessarily be put in harm's way. The debate before us is about the global threats facing the United States and how we choose to respond to them. Failure to forcibly respond to previous acts of terrorism has undermined America's credibility around the world and projected us as weak to our enemies.
Some examples of these attacks include: the World Trade Center in 1993; U.S. troops in the barracks in Saudi Arabia; sailors on the USS Cole; and the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Unfortunately, Americans were too quick to forget these terrible acts.
Like many Members of Congress, I believe there should be strategic benchmarks that are designed to hold both the administration and the Iraqi Government accountable for success in Iraq. These benchmarks should measure whether sufficient progress is being made.
Unfortunately, under the restrictive rules imposed upon this debate, we will not have an opportunity to vote on other proposals which would institute benchmarks for success.
I am compelled to vote against this status quo resolution. Americans deserve a real debate with multiple options for success in Iraq, not closed proceedings that are intended to be a political ploy.
I would rather America fight the terrorists on the streets of Baghdad, instead of allowing the terrorists to attack our homeland.
I am concerned that the resolution we are debating this week is a precursor to cutting off funds for our troops. The Democrats have even called it a first step. I have heard it several times tonight. Our troops must have all the resources they need to accomplish their mission. I support our troops in the field. Therefore, I will vote ``no'' on this resolution.
General Petraeus has indicated that reinforcements will hasten the end of the Iraq battle, allowing us to direct our efforts elsewhere in this greater war on radical Islamic terrorists.
The national commander of the VFW, the Nation's largest organizations of combat veterans, issued a statement earlier this week which says, ``We need to send a message to our troops that America wants them to succeed in Iraq by giving the buildup a chance to succeed.''
As a Member of Congress, I will always do whatever possible to support our brave men and women in uniform.
As such, I will actively oppose efforts to cut off funding to our troops.
I cannot support this resolution, but I am committed to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that the actions taken in the war accomplish the following: Moves Iraq closer to a peaceful and stable democracy; improves America's security; ensures the utmost safety and best equipment for our soldiers; and provides the shortest feasible time frame for their return to their families.
Failure in Iraq will lead to Iraq becoming a training and staging ground for terrorist groups intent on destabilizing the entire Middle East and destroying the United States and our allies.
In closing, I thank and offer my prayers for all our troops, including those brave men and women in the Ninth Congressional District and throughout the State of Florida who have answered their Nation's call to duty.
God bless our troops, and keep them safe.