U.S. Rep. David Davis said Friday he will sign on to an emerging House resolution calling for benchmarks in the Bush administration's new plan to deploy 21,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq and performance measures of Iraq's government under the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"I've been in business now for almost 20 years, and you have to have benchmarks if you know that you are succeeding. I think that is exactly what we need to do," Davis, a Johnson City Republican representing Northeast Tennessee's 1st Congressional District, said of the House resolution. "We need to be sending a message to Bush and Maliki ... that there has to be some success and measures put in place for us to continue. This (Iraq occupation) is not something that we are going to be willing to do forever, but we need to send a message that we need to win it and be decisive."
The House resolution, said Davis, is expected to call for a progress assessment every 30 days and include political and military performance measures. Nonbinding bipartisan proposals expressing varying degrees of disapproval of Bush's plan are being debated in the Senate.
"We're not going to be sitting out here in November wondering if (the Bush plan) worked," Davis said of the reason for the resolution. "They actually have to let us know. ... (Iraqis) need to be denying insurgents and others using Iraqi territory for sanctuary. ... There also has to be a level of cooperation with the U.S. military on counterterrorism efforts."
While the debate over Iraq continues in Congress, Davis indicated he supports the additional troop deployments.
"I have talked to people at the Pentagon and the national security adviser and people who have been to Iraq - troops from the 1st District - and I'm firmly under the belief that we cannot afford to lose this global War on Terror," said Davis. "It's not just about Iraq. It's about a much bigger battle. If we pull out, the war doesn't end unfortunately. We didn't have troops in Iraq when they hit us on September 11th, so just because we pull out doesn't mean they will stop fighting. It will just embolden the terrorists. I think it would be bad for Americans on our homeland.
"I have asked the president and national security adviser: Is 21,000 the right number? The response I get is they allowed the generals to put this plan together. The generals think it will succeed. So I'm going to allow the military to make the decisions."
Turning to other matters before Congress, Davis said he supports President Bush's call this year for a balanced federal budget with no new taxes in addition to a standard tax deduction for health insurance that would be like the standard tax deduction for dependents.
Under Bush's health insurance proposal, families with health insurance would pay no income or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. In his recent State of the Union speech, Bush predicted more than 100 million men, women, and children now covered by employer-provided insurance would benefit from lower tax bills.
"It will get my vote," Davis said of the measure. "Will the majority party (House Democrats) allow that tax deduction to take place? That's still questionable."