Good morning. This is Harry Reid from Searchlight, Nevada - the Majority Leader of the United States Senate.
This week - after the swearing in of a new Congress - we began a new chapter in America's future. After years of one-party rule in the nation's Capitol, bipartisanship is in the air. With Democrats and Republicans pledging to work together, it's a time of hope and promise for our great nation.
In the Senate, my Party has put forward an ambitious agenda for the year ahead, including plans to restore accountability and responsibility to our government, raise the minimum wage, expand stem cell research, and cut the costs of energy, education and prescription drugs.
We, the Democratic Majority in Congress, are determined to make progress for our nation. We want to turn the page on an era of partisan politics, and work side-by-side with President Bush and Congressional Republicans to achieve real, meaningful results.
In pursuit of results, the new Congress will face many challenges this year, but none more important than working with President Bush to find an end to the intractable war in Iraq.
Almost four years since it began, the war continues to exact an enormous toll on our nation. This past December was the deadliest month in two years. We've now lost over 3,000 of our sons and daughters to this war, and still have over one-hundred and forty- thousand serving in harm's way today.
These troops and their families have given so much, they now deserve a strategy that will bring this war to a close.
From news reports, it appears President Bush will come forward with a new war plan next week. My fellow Democrats in Congress and Americans everywhere anxiously await the details of this plan.
Yesterday, in a letter to the President, the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and I expressed our hope the President will reject one idea he is reportedly considering - the so-called "surge option," where thousands of additional combat troops would be deployed to Baghdad.
Based on the advice of current and former military leaders, we believe this tactic would be a serious mistake. These military professionals tell us there is no purely military solution in Iraq, there is only a political solution in Iraq. They say adding more U.S. combat troops in the middle of this civil war undermines our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their future, and asks our already overstretched military to carry a burden the Iraqis should be shouldering themselves.
As General John Abizaid-our top commander for Iraq and the Middle East said- "more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more."
Rather than deploying additional forces to Iraq, we hope the President will make clear to the Iraqi government that the time has come for them to assume more responsibility for their future, and that he will announce he is beginning the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months.
Our troops and their families have already sacrificed a great deal for Iraq. They have done their part. It's time for the Iraqis to do their part.
When President Bush does come forward with his plan, Senate Democrats will keep working with his administration to help the Iraqis succeed. We have a series of Iraq oversight hearings scheduled this month. We will use these hearings to ask tough questions, demand real solutions, and keep working to bring this war to a close.
In Iraq and here at home, the challenges facing America are great, the problems before us complex. But our ability to meet these challenges and move our country forward is limited only by our willingness to work together.
Democrats stand ready to do this bipartisan work, and build a safer, stronger, healthier nation as a result.
I'm Senator Harry Reid from the state of Nevada. Thank you for listening.