Duckworth Powerfully Speaks Out After Iran-Backed Attack that Killed 3 American Servicemembers
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Today, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)—a member of both the U.S. Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees—delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor about the recent Iran-backed attack on a U.S. base in Jordan that killed three American servicemembers. In her remarks, Duckworth warned her Republican colleagues who have made reckless, irresponsible comments that risk escalating tensions and putting more of our troops in harm’s way to remember the true cost of war—not just in dollars and cents, but in the sacrifices and blood of our troops. A full video of Duckworth’s remarks on the Senate floor can be found using the link here.
- “Since Sunday, I don’t think I’ve gone a waking hour without thinking about the brave servicemembers who lost their lives. Their names were Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders and Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett—and each of them was willing to sacrifice the unimaginable to keep their nation safe. They are heroes.”
- “Look, I ran for Congress so that when those drums of war started beating,?I’d be in a position to make sure that our leaders in Washington fully consider the true costs of war—not just in dollars and cents, but in the sacrifices and blood of our troops. So I’ve come to the floor today, as those drums echo louder than they have in years, to keep my promise to do our troops justice:?To beseech my colleagues to let cool heads, common sense and sound strategy prevail over reckless impulses.”
- “…if Republicans really want to risk war with Iran, they owe it to our troops to bring an Authorization for Use of Military Force to the floor. Instead of hiding behind social media accounts and television interviews, bring that debate to this chamber so that we can actually fulfill our duty and begin the serious business of considering the merits and drawbacks of such a conflict…”
Duckworth’s full remarks as prepared below:
If you listen closely right now, you can hear the drums of war gaining momentum.
I know that sound.
It’s the same sound that led me to deploy to a dusty desert outpost in Iraq 20 years ago, where I served alongside some of the bravest men and women you could ever meet.
It’s the same sound that ultimately led me to run for office—a decision I only made after I was shot down in Iraq… when I found myself searching for a new mission.
I found that mission in giving a voice to every Veteran who had willingly sacrificed so much answering their nation’s call to serve.
And I found it in speaking up for the active-duty troops still waking up in dusty basecamps throughout the Middle East…
Still serving tour after tour… bleeding… even dying… thousands of miles away because they had sworn an oath to defend the country they loved, no matter what it cost them.
And that sound is why a few minutes ago, I wheeled myself to this desk with the same purpose that took me first to battle, then to the campaign trail:
To help keep America as strong as she can be… and to try to look out for the troops who never stop looking out for the rest of us.
Today, Mr. President, I’m here in this beautiful chamber… with privilege all around me… to beg of my colleagues one simple thing:
As tensions in the Middle East escalate, please, from this place of safety and comfort, think of the sacrifices our servicemembers make every single day.
Please, as the drums of war grow louder, honor them by thinking of what we’d be asking them to risk if we risk an expanded conflict with Iran.
On Sunday morning, we all woke to the tragic news that three American Soldiers were killed in an Iran-backed attack in Jordan.
I imagine many who saw the news may not have even known we had U.S. servicemembers stationed in Jordan.
But I was acutely aware. In fact, just 24 hours earlier, I had woken up in Illinois and helped send almost 300 Illinois National Guardsmen off to start their missions in CENTCOM area of operation, the exact AO where this attack took place.
Since Sunday, I don’t think I’ve gone a waking hour without thinking about the brave servicemembers who lost their lives.
Their names were Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, Sgt. Kennedy Ladon Sanders and Sgt. Breonna Alexsondria Moffett—and each of them was willing to sacrifice the unimaginable to keep their nation safe. They are heroes.
During this impossible time, my thoughts are with their families, who will never be able to say “I love you” in person to them again.
And my thoughts are with the more than 40 other servicemembers who were wounded in the blast—with at least three among them having severe enough injuries that they had to be evacuated to Germany.
It’s clear we must forcefully and swiftly make those responsible pay for the devastation they have wrought, sending the message that these attacks against our servicemembers will not be tolerated.
But we must do this with clear eyes, a steady hand and a clear, strategic end-goal in mind—seeking justice and, ultimately, a swift end to these threats to our troops.
I don’t have all the details yet, but based on initial reports, it seems that President Biden’s planned response will do just that.
It looks like a well-thought-out, strong rebuttal that aims to deter Iran from supporting further attacks on U.S. troops, without risking boiling tensions even further.
Because this is a uniquely dangerous moment. And the message we send to Iran must make war less likely, not more.
After all, after decades of forever wars in the region, the last thing we want is to send those who volunteer to serve our country into another endless, senseless conflict.
And if we want to adequately honor the sacrifices of the three servicemembers killed last weekend, we must remain focused on preventing their brothers-and-sisters-in-arms from dying in a preventable war on foreign soil.
Sadly, over the past few days, some of my Republican colleagues have been making reckless, irresponsible comments that risk dangerously escalating tensions.
They’ve been throwing rocks. Chest-thumping over social media. Demanding that the President ramp up the temperature—that he “hit Iran now” and “hit them hard.”
Look, I ran for Congress so that when those drums of war started beating, I’d be in a position to make sure that our leaders in Washington fully consider the true costs of war—not just in dollars and cents, but in the sacrifices and blood of our troops.
So I’ve come to the floor today, as those drums echo louder than they have in years, to keep my promise to do our troops justice:
To beseech my colleagues to let cool heads, common sense and sound strategy prevail over reckless impulses.
And, if necessary, I will come back to this chamber day after day after day…speaking from this wheelchair that I earned the last time Congress rashly sent our sons and daughters into another endless, senseless war…
Ensuring that, this time, we do right by our troops—by fully, soberly considering the consequences of these decisions on those who serve, and on their families.
Listen, I am no dove.
After all, I volunteered to fight in a war I deeply disagreed with.
So I am certainly not opposed to war when it’s necessary to defend this great nation.
And I am not opposed to striking Iranian assets, if our approach is smart, limited and strategically calibrated to end the spiral of violence that threatens our servicemembers.
But I will also do everything in my power to remind those who today are so eagerly pushing us down the path to war that there are serious repercussions involved for the Americans who would actually be in harm’s way, even if they may not be felt by politicians in here in Washington
Under both a federal law known as the War Powers Act and Article I of the Constitution, only Congress has the solemn responsibility of deciding when and how the United States sends its troops to war.
So if Republicans really want to risk war with Iran, they owe it to our troops to bring an Authorization for Use of Military Force to the floor…
Instead of hiding behind social media accounts and television interviews, bring that debate to this chamber so that we can actually fulfill our duty and begin the serious business of considering the merits and drawbacks of such a conflict…
And so that, as we ask them to sacrifice so much, our troops downrange would at least know what their mission is, what their goals are and that their leaders in Washington both have their backs and are following the Constitution.
Whenever Republicans are ready, if they are ever ready, I’m here to participate in that debate.
And if their arguments for war are strong enough, I owe it to my constituents to consider and vote on the merits of them.
But for now, with those drums pounding once more, I want to just ask each of my colleagues to take a moment to think about the true costs of war for all those servicemembers still at risk at dusty desert bases thousands of miles away.
I, personally, cannot go a moment without forgetting them.
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