Larsen votes to redeploy

Second District Rep. Rick Larsen voted with a majority last week in favor of H.R. 4156, legislation to change the mission of U.S. forces in Iraq and begin the redeployment of U.S. troops within 30 days of the bill’s enactment.

The bill, which President Bush has pledged to veto if it also clears the Senate, provides $50 billion to meet the needs of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and prohibits the deployment of any troops not fully trained and equipped.

“The American people have spoken loud and clear. Now is the time to begin the strategic redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq and refocus our efforts on fighting terrorists,” Larsen said in a news release. “The United States needs to end our military involvement in Iraq’s civil war and refocus our efforts on defeating terrorists wherever they are, including Iraq. Our current policy in Iraq is hindering our military readiness and our ability to fight terrorists around the world.”

Larsen is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

In other recent military-related votes, Larsen voted in favor of a House-Senate agreement on defense appropriations which will improve U.S. military readiness. The funding bill passed the House by vote of 400 to 15, and must be passed by the Senate before it can be signed into law.

The bill funds a 3.5 percent pay raise for all military personnel. At Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, it provides $1.2 million to expand joint electronic warfare training.

Larsen supported another measure that provides $10.6 million for an indoor aircraft washrack for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Larsen said 391 airplanes are washed each year at the Whidbey base. It takes as many as 12 sailors three hours each to wash one of these planes. These sailors must do so during periods of rain, gale force winds and low winter temperatures.

“An indoor washrack will not only lengthen the service life of the planes at NAS Whidbey, but will also help make the quality of life even better for the sailors stationed there,” said Larsen.

None of the funding is assured until the Senate concurs and the president signs the measures into law.

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