KIRK: “I wasn’t voting AGAINST equipment repairs for troops, I was voting FOR troops getting dysentery!”

CHICAGO, IL – In one of the most bizarre cases of spin this political cycle, Senator Mark Kirk is objecting to a new ad from the veterans group, VoteVets Action Fund.  Kirk says claims in the ad that he voted against equipment repairs for troops in the field are false, because he was really just voting against funding clean water for troops suffering dysentery. 

In this morning’s Chicago Tribune [1], Kirk’s campaign complains about the new ad (which can be viewed here: ), saying, a vote cited in the ad “was a vote against funds for “quality-of-life enhancements for U.S. service members” and not equipment.”  

Despite protests from Kirk, the vote was against equipment repairs 

At issue is an amendment offered by then-Rep. David Obey, in 2003, to a $87 billion Iraq spending package.  The Washington Post [2], at the time, reported on the defeat of the amendment, which Kirk voted against, noting the amendment would shift $3.6 billion to the U.S. military “to pay for the medical and dental screening of military reservists, for family assistance centers, for pre-paid phone cards for the troops in Iraq, for the transportation of troops on rest-and-relaxation leave, for the construction of more water treatment and power plants for the deployed troops, and for the repair and replacement of damaged equipment.”   

Further, Rep. Obey explained on the floor that, “We have almost half of our Army divisions with, at this point, equipment which is not up to full readiness standards. We need to correct that as soon as possible. The services asked for the full amount necessary for this year. The Department denied them a good share of the funds. We provide the full funding levels that were requested by the services.” 

But Kirk says he only voted to let troops keep getting dysentery 

As noted in the Post piece, part of the “quality of life enhancements” that Kirk’s campaign say Kirk actually objected to was construction of more water treatment plants for deployed troops.  Rep. Obey explained this spending by noting, “Eighty percent of our troops in Iraq have to drink bad water. They get dysentery. The President's request contains only $15 million for such purposes. We try to provide an amount consistent with meeting the needs of all of the troops in that country.” 

According to Medical News Today, “Dysentery is an intestinal inflammation, especially in the colon, that can lead to severe diarrhea with mucus or blood in the feces.” 

Media reports [3] noted that, in 2003, troops in Iraq had resorted to stealing clean water, to cope with dehydration, dysentery, and more.  

In the end, it isn’t good 

“Senator Kirk’s campaign’s line of reason here is, to put it delicately, insane,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chairman of VoteVets Action Fund.  “He really wants to tell the people of Illinois that he objected to spending money to keep troops from contracting dysentery, in Iraq?  If that’s the argument he wants to make, we will happily oblige him.  We sincerely apologize to Mark Kirk, for not making it more clear in our ad, that he is pro-dysentery-for-troops.” 

Founded in 2006, and backed by over 400,000 supporters, the mission of Action Fund is to use public issue campaigns and direct outreach to lawmakers to ensure that troops abroad have what they need to complete their missions, and receive the care they deserve when they get home. also recognizes veterans as a vital part of the fabric of our country and will work to protect veterans' interests in their day-to-day lives. is committed to the destruction of terror networks around the world - with force when necessary - to protect America. While non-partisan, the group is the largest progressive organization of veterans in America.






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