3:49 PM EDT

Tom Cole, R-OK 4th

Mr. COLE of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, at this time, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller).

3:59 PM EDT

Tom Cole, R-OK 4th

Mr. COLE of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, let me take a moment to make a couple of points in response to my good friend from Wisconsin's observations. First, on the bridge fund for appropriations for ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, I just want to note for the record, it is considerably higher than it has been in the past, $70 billion, I believe, as opposed to $50 billion. That is a significant increase.

Also, that bridge fund allows us to frankly adapt to changing conditions on the battlefield. The reality is battlefields do not move in budgetary cycles, or wars do not.

And, finally, it keeps us from building in a lot of expense of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq into the permanent base. We think it has been a good procedure to move forward with in this conflict. In terms of the cuts my friend mentioned, let me just say again for the record, if we check each year, we actually spend more money than we do the year before, and on more things.

We have many, many choices to make, many, many tough decisions to make. The most important priority for government is always the defense of its citizens and the operation of its military. I would actually argue, I would probably agree with my friend, we should have been spending more there, we should have spent more there during the 1990s.

In every other area of government, the reality is, including education, you mention No Child Left Behind, our expenditures are considerably higher than they were just a few years ago, and they continue to grow every year.

So while we would all like to do more, the reality is we have increased the expenditures considerably. Some would argue too much.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to my good friend, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrey).

4:01 PM EDT

Phil Gingrey MD, R-GA 11th

Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the rule and the underlying conference report for the fiscal year 2007 Department of Defense Appropriations Act.

I would like to commend Chairmen Lewis and Young as well as the staff of the Defense Subcommittee for their tireless efforts in support of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who are bravely defending us at home and abroad.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation covers an extensive range of priorities that are vitally important to our armed services, and we must pass it before adjourning later this week. As we fight for our way of life, our enemies are actively and aggressively adjusting their tactics while waging their terrorist war of religious intolerance against the free nations of this world.

This legislation provides the necessary supplemental funding to give our deployed soldiers the resources they need to continue taking the fight to the terrorists. It contains funding for force protection, including improvised explosive device jammers to shield our soldiers from roadside bombs, as well as increased funding to replace and repair battle-worn equipment.

Mr. Speaker, our House and Senate colleagues did a good job securing funding for many important programs which are our military's top priorities. Chief among these, Mr. Speaker, is the F-22 Raptor. I am particularly encouraged by the work the Appropriations Committee has done to fund the F-22 program this year, as this aircraft is vital to our Nation's defense.

The conference agreement includes authority for multiyear procurement of 60 F-22 aircraft, beginning with 20 fully funded in this fiscal year and continuing with two subsequent lots of 20 aircraft each in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

This will go a long way towards providing stability for the program and ensuring that America maintains air dominance for the foreseeable future. Further, Mr. Speaker, as we fight the global war on terror, the United States must without question continue to modernize and strengthen our ability to support our men and women in harm's way.

Maintaining our Nation's airlift capabilities is critical to this mission, and I would like to applaud conferees for their recognition of this in funding nine C-130Js, two KC-130Js, and the C-5 modernization program.

The conferees also responsibly recognize the importance of developing life-saving innovations to benefit our warfighters. Accordingly, $1 million was included in the conference report for the research and the development of protein hydrogel, which is manufactured in my district, by definition, Mr. Speaker, an earmark and one that I proudly sponsored.

Protein hydrogel has the potential to quickly seal battlefield wounds to prevent excessive bleeding and death. We are absolutely doing the right thing providing for that research.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to again thank my colleagues, thank Mr. Cole, thank them for their hard work, and I urge support for this rule and the conference report.

4:12 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, as you know, I have been here for many years, 26 to be exact. The gentleman mentions 9/11, a cataclysmic event in the history of our country. He is right to mention that. Obviously it cost us money.

But I have served here for 26 years, as the gentleman knows, 18 of these have been with Republican Presidents, 8 with a Democratic President. I tell my friend, in every one of the 18 years with a Republican President we ran deficits above $100 billion.

During the Clinton administration, as you know, we ran 4 years of surplus and 4 years of decreasing deficits, the only President in our life time who had a surplus, i.e., $62.5 billion surplus; the only President in our lifetime who did that during his tenure.

Further, I say to my friend, in 1993, with Democrats in control of the Congress of the United States, and with not one Republican vote, we passed an economic program which raised revenues, which you mention frequently, I do not mean you personally, but your party mentions frequently, but you never mention the fact that in that same bill, we cut $254 billion in spending.

Furthermore, in terms of spending, you say restraint of spending. Democrats do not control spending at all. We do not have control in the House; we do not have control in the Senate. Yet the Republicans have spent, as you well know, at twice the rate of spending under the Clinton administration. I thank you for yielding.

4:13 PM EDT

Tom Cole, R-OK 4th

Mr. COLE of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time.

Well, again I want to thank my friend, in a very back-handed, but I think very obvious fashion thanking that Republican Congress which was actually in control of the purse strings. And I will leave it to the American people to decide who they want as the next President of the United States.

But you have made a very eloquent case, in my opinion, for the continuance of a Republican majority in Congress, because that is when spending control was actually achieved. I thank my friend.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:18 PM EDT

Tom Cole, R-OK 4th

Mr. COLE of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Again, I came here largely to talk about the defense bill, but I want to discuss some of the points my good friend from Ohio made. While I respect him, I respectfully disagree.

Frankly, the administration, this government, never claimed we went to Iraq because of 9/11. We claim we went there because they repeatedly violated U.N. resolutions and they were pursuing activities, as indeed they were, to get themselves out of sanctions, and they expelled weapons inspectors from their country. Every intelligence agency in the world believed they were pursuing weapons of mass destruction; and, indeed, the reality is we probably simply caught them early in the process, rather

than later in the process.

I think my friend's comments are based on the unstated but very real premise that this war is somehow better off if Saddam Hussein was still in Baghdad. That is simply an assertion or an opinion that I reject. I have been to Iraq six times, as many of my colleagues frankly on both sides of the issues have been numerous times, and I simply remind my friends what Saddam Hussein and Baghdad meant: two regional wars that more than 1 million people died in; twice close to nuclear weapons, once in

1981, once in 1991; 270-odd mass graves in Iraq.

I have been to Iraq. Nobody in Iraq wants Saddam Hussein back. Nobody in Iraq, at least of any significant numbers, would tell you that they lived in a good era, and everybody in the region I think would tell you that the region is better off without him.

That does not mean that we have an easy situation that is confronting us. Indeed, it is very difficult and I would acknowledge that up front, but I think it calls for perseverance. I think an immediate withdrawal would be a disaster for the region and, frankly, would endanger people, thousands of whom have placed their faith and their confidence in the United States of America.

I am extraordinarily proud, as I know each and every Member of this body is, of the men and women that wear the uniform of the United States and do the tough job that we ask them to do. I think in the long view of history people will look back on this and say they did a very important job very well for this country and, like their fathers and grandfathers before them, for the region in which they were deployed, because where they go, democracy has followed.

Democracy certainly was not going to break out on its own in Iraq, nor was Saddam Hussein going to wither away on the vine in Iraq, in my opinion.

So I respect the decision that the President and the administration made, that this Congress on a bipartisan basis supported, dozens of my friends on the other side of the aisle voting in favor of giving the President the right to use force; half, I believe, of our friends in other body on the other side of the aisle voting for the President to have the option to use force and go into Iraq.

That is something we ought to remember as we have this debate. We did not go to war on a partisan vote. We went to war on a bipartisan decision.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:21 PM EDT

Jerrold Nadler, D-NY 8th

Mr. NADLER. Mr. Speaker, it is growing very tiresome to hear Republicans rewriting history and blaming all the ills of our society on the 1990s and the Clinton administration.

The gentleman from Oklahoma said the Army was too small, that in the 1990s it was reduced from 15 divisions to 10. Maybe so, but, you know, we have had 6 years of the Bush administration and 6 years of the Republican Congress to fix that if that is the problem. I have not seen any proposals to change that. I have not seen any proposals from that side of the aisle or from the administration to increase the Army to 11 or 12 or 15 divisions.

The real problem is that we are wasting the Army. The real problem is that Secretary Rumsfeld thought we could fight a war on the cheap. He sent the troops into Iraq with not enough troops, dismissed General Shinseki when he told him we need twice as many troops as you may think; otherwise, we will have a long-term war on our hands, and he was right. We sent the troops in without the proper body armor and without the proper equipment, and Americans died because of that.

The other real problem is that we are wasting our funds, $300 billion so far, not just funds, 2,700 lives in a foolish, counterproductive war in Iraq, a war started by the Bush administration under false pretences, after misrepresenting facts and intelligence to this Congress.

We were told that we had to go war to prevent the imminent development of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons, the mushroom cloud by Iraq. That was not true.

We were told about the connection of Iraq to al Qaeda. That was not true.

If the President had told us the truth, that Saddam Hussein at that point in history, not 12 years earlier, at that point in history presented no real threat to us, there was no likelihood of weapons of mass destruction, there was no connection to al Qaeda but we should invade Iraq in order to make the Mideast democratic, would this Congress have voted for war? Would the American people have supported starting a war? I do not think so.

I am not going to get into a debate whether the intelligence was wrong or misrepresented. That is a question the American people can decide eventually on whether the Bush administration was a fool or an ape, because that is the question. Either they had it wrong or they misled us. I think it is the latter, but, either way, the fact is, as the gentleman from Ohio said, this war has not made us safer. It is to the contrary.

The national intelligence estimate says the war in Iraq has hurt our efforts in the real war, the war on terrorism. It is a cheap recruiting device of Islamic Jihadists all over the world; and, not only that, this war, the downfall of Saddam Hussein has done one other thing, it has liberated Iran to be the real menace, a far worse menace than Saddam Hussein ever could have been, a real menace to us and to liberty in this world.

The fact is, the foolishness, the stupidity of Iraq aside, we are fighting a real serious war, a very serious war on a much larger scale against the Islamic terrorists. That is the war we must fight and win, but the Bush administration, the Republican Congress does not take that war seriously. We get a lot of rhetoric about the war on terrorism, but they will not up put up the money, they will not put up the effort because they do not take it seriously.

The biggest threat that we are faced with is not Iraq. The biggest threat we are faced with is that al Qaeda or some other Jihadist group gets nuclear weapons. The knowledge is all over the place. The barrier to nuclear weapons is where do you get the nuclear material, where do you get the fissionable material. I tell you where. You get it in the former Soviet Union where there is enough material to build 40,000 nuclear bombs lying around, not properly guarded.

We have a program to get it out of there to protect ourselves from the Osama bin Laden nuclear bomb. We will get it out of there over 30 years. We removed more nuclear material from the former Soviet Union in the 5 years before 9/11 than in the 5 years since. For 15 or $20 billion, we could get it all out and would not have to worry about nuclear explosions in American cities as we must because of the stupidity of the Bush administration in not getting our stuff out of there.

Twelve million shipping containers a year come into this country. They are not inspected. We had a party-line vote on this floor against the Democratic proposal to insist on electronic screening of every container to make sure it does not have an atomic bomb or a radiological weapon in it, but they say [Page: H7411]

we cannot do it; we will have a study of it. This is 1942. In 1942, we built aircraft carriers. We did not have studies of weather to build aircraft carriers.

And all the chemical and nuclear plants are unprotected which, if attacked or sabotaged, could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans. They do not want to spend the money because they do not take the war on terrorism seriously enough. We do.

4:26 PM EDT

Tom Cole, R-OK 4th

Mr. COLE of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to differ with my good friend from New York on something. I actually never mentioned President Clinton. You did. I talked about the 1990s, and I think there were mistakes in terms of size in our force by a Democratic President and a Republican Congress. I say this as somebody who was very pleased to serve in my first term on the Armed Services Committee where Members on both sides generally found themselves out of step with the majority on this body on the floor and the administration

and wanted to do more. So I do not think this was a partisan mistake. I think this is a bipartisan error in judgment and a mistake about the way the world is, and I think my remarks reflected that.

In terms of talking about whether or not the President told us the truth, I think the record is very clear that he did tell us the best intelligence estimates that we had. And I suspect that most members of the Intelligence Committee, if you look at the committee and go back and look at how they voted on a bipartisan basis, you will find there was considerable bipartisan consensus that that was indeed the case.

Fair enough to say that there is now evidence that the judgment was wrong. I think that is legitimate to bring up and discuss. What concerns me is, quite often, because we now disagree with the judgment, we have to attack the motives of the people who made the judgment at that time. I disagree with that. I think the motives were good motives. We can argue about whether or not the decision was correct, but I do not think the President of the United States deliberately misled this body, nor did

this body deliberately mislead the American people in the war. That is my opinion and my view of it.

In terms of not caring about the war on terror, I would submit that is simply not the case. We can disagree about tactics, we can disagree about methods, but the fact that this country has not, thank goodness, and I always knock on wood when I say it, suffered another attack since 9/11, something that nobody on 9/12 would have predicted, is not an accident. It has happened because millions of Americans, thousands of people in uniform, our intelligence system, our border people and, frankly, people

in this body have made tough and good decisions to try and keep this country safe.

Now, could it be safer? I will quote the President. We are safer, but we are not safe. I think that is the record, but the reality is we are considerably safer today they than we were on 9/10, the day before, when we had no earthly idea the danger that we were facing and had not taken the preparations in my opinion that we should have taken to deal with it.

[Time: 16:30]

I don't judge people harshly for that. People make mistakes, and it is easy to have 20-20 hindsight and be a Monday morning quarterback. But I do give credit when the record shows that somebody has succeeded, and I would tell you, in my opinion, this President, this administration, and, frankly, this Congress has by and large done the right things to keep the country safe over the last several years.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:32 PM EDT

Tom Cole, R-OK 4th

Mr. COLE of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I simply want to respond to a number of the points my good friend made. First, let me for the record go back and remind people of all the statements that we could line up here of one American leader after another, of both political parties, who told us that Saddam Hussein had active weapons of mass destruction and was actively pursuing those programs.

It was this Congress, under President Clinton, that passed legislation that made it the object of American policy in 1998 to remove him from power because we thought he was a very dangerous person. So I do not think you can say everybody knew that that wasn't the case. Quite the opposite, in my opinion, is true. Most people saw him as a danger.

In my opinion, they were correct. They may not have had an exact count of what he had available, but I think given his record of having used chemical weapons against his own people, of having launched the wars, of having tried twice and come close twice, according to our people, in acquiring numeral weapons, they were right, particularly in light of 9/11, to be very skeptical and very concerned.

Second, I will ask our colleagues to take somewhat of the long view here. If this were 1954-55, we could all get here and say, gosh, wasn't Korea a terrible thing; it is a dictatorship, 50,000 American lives, what a waste. The reality is, if you look at Korea today, the sacrifices, the decisions made by a Democratic President, Truman, I think worked very well. There is a democracy there. It is secure. Thank goodness we made the tough decisions in that part of the world. I think Iraq will look

the same way down road.

Finally, I want to deal with my friend's concern about the war in Iraq [Page: H7412]

has made us less safe or has stimulated terrorism. I have not had an opportunity to read, obviously, the classified document, which I understand today is now going to become available to all of us, so I want to preface my remarks by noting that I want to read what they actually said. But I do want to offer this observation. To say that somehow that Iraq has fostered Islamic terrorism

and that Afghanistan somehow wouldn't have is just counterintuitive to me. If Iraq did it, and we were in Afghanistan alone, which nobody seems to debate, we would still have that same force running through the Islamic world, that same stimulus. It is a reaction, I think, to us legitimately defending ourselves in the case of Afghanistan. It would occur just as surely as it has in Iraq.

4:35 PM EDT

David R. Obey, D-WI 7th

Mr. OBEY. I thank my friend, and I would just like to point out, is it not true, however, that we were told by the intelligence community that even if Iraq did have weapons of mass destruction, that they would most likely use them only if we attacked?

4:35 PM EDT

Tom Cole, R-OK 4th

Mr. COLE of Oklahoma. Reclaiming my time, I appreciate my friend's observation, and I would be happy to deal with it, but I think that comment can be handled on your side and I look forward to the discussion.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

4:36 PM EDT

Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-TX 18th

Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. I think the discussion my good friend has just enunciated is the basis of the frustration of so many of us here in the United States Congress. In fact, we have done a horrible job of oversight and explaining to the American people that we, frankly, this government, this White House, frankly made a horrific mistake. We are not more safe because of the conflict in Iraq, and a lieutenant general of the United States Army, retired, who had been in Vietnam, said we have the

exact same mess that we had in Vietnam.

In fact, Iran is the one that is ecstatic, because we actually fought their war for them in terms of the actions of Saddam Hussein against Iran. We have boosted Iran's status in the region. That is, of course, of no interest to the United States. We have created an atmosphere that threatens Israel even more. The longer it goes on, it benefits al Qaeda and the insurgents.

As we speak before this House on the defense appropriations, we remain committed to our U.S. soldiers. We thank them for their service. But in tribute to them, the 2,700 that are dead as we speak, and dying, the 18,000 that have been injured severely, this is not worth staying the course.

And my words are an anecdote that is taken from this lieutenant general: ``It is like a person jumping off the Empire State Building, getting down to the 50th floor, waving at those in the window and saying, I am staying the course, and then plopping to the ground having committed suicide.''

We are committing suicide in Iraq. We are not safer than we were. This Congress has failed. I support the troops and the appropriations dealing with their issues, but to support and give tribute to those who have died, we need to bring our troops home and bring them home now, claiming victory, transitioning leadership into Iraq and into their surrounding allies and stopping the divide.

We have depleted NATO. We have depleted our military resources. And we realize when we left Vietnam, our standing in the world was higher than it had ever been. When we leave Iraq, we will have a higher standing. We will be able to fight the war on terror.

I am so sad that my colleague keeps saying the same old thing over and over again, staying the course and committing suicide.

4:38 PM EDT

Doris O. Matsui, D-CA 5th

Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I will proceed to closing.

Mr. Speaker, we had a very spirited debate here today, and those in the Chamber here understand that many important things are happening in this world and in this country. We are dealing here also with this conference report, and this conference report made under this rule is a fair and responsible agreement. It does state clearly our support to the troops and our military.

As Congress considers the remaining appropriation bills later this year, I would urge my colleagues to follow this example, Democrats and Republicans working together to craft a responsible bill providing for the national defense. This agreement and this working together is all the evidence we need that national security is not a political issue, it is an American issue.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.