Aug 31 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared an end to the American combat mission in Iraq and said America’s most urgent task now is restoring the sagging U.S. economy.
Here are statements from some congressional leaders on Obama’s Oval Office address:
SENATE DEMOCRATIC LEADER HARRY REID
"Our troops and security forces have done everything that has been asked of them in Iraq, and their heroism has given the Iraqi people a chance to determine their own future as they build and defend the young democracy they now own. Tonight President Obama affirmed our obligation to finish the job in Iraq and draw down our presence there in a responsible, honorable way. While we still have thousands of troops who remain in Iraq in an advisory role, the responsibility for the security of Iraq now rests primarily with the Iraqi people."
REPUBLICAN SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN
"I appreciate his praise for the troops. I appreciate him mentioning George Bush’s name but he gave no credit to him for the surge. If it hadn’t been for the surge, we never would’ve succeeded. It’s too bad he couldn’t admit that he was wrong, because if he had it his way, we would’ve lost in Iraq. He consistently opposed the troop surge."
SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL
"By adopting the Bush administration’s plan for winding down the war and transitioning security responsibilities to the Iraqi military over time the President has enabled us and the Iraqis to build on the gains our troops have made."
INDEPENDENT SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, CHAIRMAN OF THE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE AND MEMBER OF THE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
"The remarkable turnaround in Iraq is due to many factors, but it would not have been possible without the courageous decision of President Bush to launch the surge in 2007 — initiating a set of policies that President Obama, to his great credit, has sustained and built upon to bring us to this day."
HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER JOHN BOEHNER, IN REMARKS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY TO THE AMERICAN LEGION NATIONAL CONVENTION IN MILWAUKEE
"Some leaders who opposed, criticized, and fought tooth-and-nail to stop the surge strategy today proudly claim credit for the results ... today we mark not the defeat those voices anticipated, but progress."
DEMOCRATIC SENATOR JIM WEBB, MEMBER OF THE FOREIGN RELATIONS AND ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEES
"After more than seven years of operations and countless rounds of troop rotations, I am heartened today by the president’s confirmation of the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq and his stated intention to withdraw all our troops by the end of 2011. Although our residual force of 50,000 will continue to perform hazardous duties during the year ahead, today’s transition is an important milestone."
DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE JOE SESTAK
"I commend the president for his effort to responsibly withdraw from Iraq. While I maintain our involvement in Iraq was a mistake — a tragic misadventure that diverted our focus from the real dangers our Nation faced — we must now restore our focus to the overall readiness of our forces and the real threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS KUCINICH
"The President is rightly celebrating that less American troops are in harm’s way. I join the President in that celebration. We need to dispense with the fiction, though, that this announcement in any way diminishes our financial or resource commitment to Iraq." (Compiled by JoAnne Allen in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech)