Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 261, I call up the bill (H.R. 1591) making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.
Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, I rise today to express my opposition to this emergency supplemental. My colleagues know that I have the highest level of respect for my chairman, Mr. Obey. Together we worked as partners in the 109th Congress, passing appropriations bills through the committee and through the House. Indeed, the Appropriations Committee is at its best when each of us works together across party lines and rises above purely partisan politics.
During the last Congress I was privileged to serve as chairman of this great committee, and Mr. Obey was our distinguished ranking member. Today, our roles are reversed, and Mr. Obey is now our chairman.
There is no question that if my friend from Wisconsin were permitted to write this bill on his own, this would be a much better product. Instead, the House is being asked to consider a spending bill that reflects the priorities of Speaker Pelosi and a deeply divided Democratic Caucus. It attempts to bridge these widening divisions over the war in Iraq by delivering billions of dollars in unrelated and unauthorized spending under an emergency designation.
This legislation ought to focus on our troops. It ought to focus on providing those in harm's way with the resources they need to complete their mission successfully. It ought to respect, not micromanage, our combatant commanders in whom we place the ultimate responsibility of prosecuting military actions.
Instead, this legislation ties the hands of our Commander in Chief during a time of war, places military decisions in the hands of politicians, and attempts to buy votes for its passage on the left and on the right by literally promising something to everyone.
If the majority's goal is to end the war or withdraw our troops, then that should be addressed in a separate piece of legislation. The majority cannot have it both ways, pretending, on the one hand, to support our troops, while on the other undercutting their ability to prosecute their mission.
Men and women of good conscience can disagree about the war in Iraq. But on one thing we must all agree, our men and women in uniform must continue to receive our unqualified support and the resources they need to complete their mission successfully.
My colleagues, consider carefully the consequences of our actions here today. Passage of this measure in its present form will signal to insurgents and terrorists that the United States doesn't have the political will to continue supporting this fledgling Iraqi democracy.
Al Qaeda and other enemies of freedom will simply lay in wait until our troops are withdrawn. And with the collapse of this fragile democracy, our efforts, and the sacrifices of our troops, will have been for nothing.
The fight in Iraq is also critical to the future of Israel. A failure in Iraq will further destabilize the region, posing a direct threat to Israel. We must not let that occur to our friend and ally.
There should be no carrot big enough to force Members into choosing between their principled support for our troops in the field and funding for the many unrelated and parochial items sprinkled throughout this bill.
Republican Members in the House are simply not going to abandon our principles, and troops in the field, for the promise of pork back in our districts. To their credit, many Democrats also continue to express grave reservations about this approach and about this legislation.
Last year Congress sent the President a clean supplemental bill for our troops. This Congress, and our country, would be better served by producing a clean bill free of extraneous spending and unrelated legislative provisions.
There is no question that the President will veto this bill. In the meantime our troops will face the uncertainty resulting from the majority's mixed signals and lack of a clear commitment. [Page: H2896]
I am also deeply concerned that the Democrat leadership has brought this emergency supplemental to the House floor under a closed rule without opportunity for Members on both sides of the aisle to offer amendments.
During my tenure as chairman, the House considered six emergency supplemental appropriations bills. Of these six bills, the two largest bills, H.R. 1268, was $81.2 billion; the other was a $91.8 billion supplemental. Those two bills primarily focused on the global war on terror. In both instances I worked closely with my leadership and the Rules Committee in seeking rules that permitted open debate, including amendments, on the House floor. And in both instances, these supplemental bills were
considered under an open rule. The remaining four bills were noncontroversial and bipartisan in nature and were considered by unanimous consent on the Suspension Calendar.
I assumed that Chairman Obey would continue in the longstanding tradition and practice of the committee to advocate open rules on all appropriations bills. Members on both sides of the aisle benefit by a process that supports a fair, honest, open, and transparent debate on the House floor. I was disappointed that Mr. Obey's first bill as chairman, the fiscal year 2007 continuing resolution, was considered under a closed rule, with only 1 hour of debate and no opportunity for
Consideration of this supplemental under a closed rule is unprecedented and leaves the minority little choice but to walk away from the tradition of comity that has marked our longstanding work on this committee.
By denying Members, both Democrats and Republicans, their right to offer amendments to this legislation, I can assure you that all bets are off on getting our committee work done this year. It simply will not happen. There will be no unanimous consent agreements on the fiscal year 2008 bills. I spoke personally with Mr. Obey about this and asked him to carry that message directly to the Speaker.
This legislation is simply too important to have it rushed through the House with no debate and no opportunity for the body to consider amendments. Consideration of this legislation under a closed rule signals to the House, and to the public, that the Speaker has imposed martial law on the people's House.
Lastly, I would be remiss not to highlight my reservations about the budgetary aspects of this bill that proposes more than $22 billion in emergency spending items that are completely unrelated to the global war on terror or legitimate emergencies in the Gulf Coast region.
I ask my colleagues what does a $25 million bailout for spinach producers, $60 million for the salmon fishing industry, or $5 million for fish breeding have to do with the global war on terror?
This legislation also includes authorization language to increase the minimum wage. Again, I ask my friends why can't the committees of jurisdiction in the House and the Senate meet in open conference to resolve the differences between these bills? What place has this provision in a wartime supplemental?
In short, much of what is included in this bill is completely unrelated to the global war on terror and has no place in the bill. Sadly, many items are being designated as emergencies for no other reason than to make more room for additional spending on the part of the Democrats under the fiscal 2008 caps.
I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to consider thoughtfully the precedent set by this legislation. Weigh in your conscience the effects of undermining the authority of the President, and future Presidents, and putting at further risk our men and women in uniform.
Our Congress, and our country, would be better served by sending the President a clean supplemental free of extraneous spending and unrelated legislative provisions.
While I respect Chairman Obey, I cannot support this legislation as it is presently written. I strongly urge a ``no'' vote.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished ranking member for yielding time.
The supplemental before us today is a case study of what happens when one branch of the government tries to do the job assigned to another. It is hard to say what this will be known for, unconstitutional legislation that would allow Congress to micromanage a war, or a crude political compromise designed to win votes.
One thing though is perfectly clear: The bill is a sham. Don't be fooled by the rhetoric you will hear today. The managers on the other side of the aisle will try to convince you that we are addressing pressing needs, providing critical resources for our troops in the field and other so-called disasters here at home. But make no mistake, the bill will only hamstring our troops, provide fodder for our enemies abroad, cause a disastrous and precipitous cut and run, and indescribable damage to America's
reputation in the vital Mideast and worldwide.
It also breaks the bank here at home by providing funds for pork-laden Democrat wish-lists. What does dollars for a spinach producer have to do with providing help for our troops in Iraq? What does money to a salmon farmer have to do with providing support for our troops in Iraq? What about aquaculture money? What has that got to do with troops in Iraq?
And for those Members who have surrendered their better judgment for pork for their districts, the majority adds $2.5 billion in so-called emergency [Page: H2898]
homeland security items to sweeten the pot.
Don't get me wrong, many of the majority's homeland security adds are worthy and important items, such as nuclear and explosive detection systems and additional aircraft for the northern border, things I have supported in the past and continue to support, but they are in no way a 2007 emergency. They can be handled regularly in the 2008 bills. In every instance these bills could and should be addressed through the 2008 process.
By including them as 2007 emergencies, the majority is simply trying to look strong on security and buy down requirements to free up funds in fiscal 2008 for additional spending. While I support homeland security spending, I support it in a fiscally responsible way.
Let me turn to the real issue under debate today now. To the defense provisions that will cause the precipitous withdrawal of our forces from Iraq and take from a President his constitutional powers of Commander in Chief, there is a very good reason why our Founding Fathers gave the executive branch the responsibility to conduct war.
The House of Representatives is made up of 435 individuals; lawyers, doctors, teachers, farmers, some with military experience, some without. It is not made up of 435 military commanders who possess the ability to manage a war. We have military professionals to do that. Why are we attempting to insert our military judgment, which can cause the death or injury of our troops, when we are neither trained nor skilled to do so? Leave the management of the war to the trained professionals who know
what they are doing.
If your aim is to end the war, and it is, this is the absolute wrong way to do it. The right way, bring forth a resolution or a bill to reverse the original authorization for the war. But as long as you have authorized the war, please don't tie the hands of our great soldiers and their commanders behind their backs in carrying out your authorization, still on the books, to fight this war against terror.
Mr. Speaker, this committee has lost its way on this one. It is a shameful turn of events. Handcuffing the authorities of the President, undermining our troops in harm's way and exploiting worthy government programs for political gain is beyond the pale. Our troops and our Nation deserve better. They deserve our undying support.
I urge a ``no'' vote.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wolf), a member of our committee.
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, there are legitimate and important emergency funding needs for the troops and our Federal civilian corps on the ground in Iraq and elsewhere. The President requested $93.4 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to continue the fight against terrorism, and that is what we should be doing.
Unfortunately, this bill offers, I think, a way of not doing that in an appropriate way. It is bloated with $124.3 billion in spending, $21 billion over what was requested. It is true we have provided funding for emergency supplementals before, but it would be hard pressed to convince the American people that $25 million for spinach producers, which may be important to do, but in the regular order; $74 million for peanut storage may be appropriate, but in regular order. It should not be done
here. At the same time it does that, it restricts the civilian spending for the provincial reconstruction teams, which helps us do some of the civilian things that we should be doing in Iraq.
The larger issue, however, is this legislation before us has become a vehicle, unfortunately, for polarization on the fight to stabilize Iraq. I have been there three times. I believe tying the hands of our military commanders to adapt to the changing circumstances can only hurt our mission and our troops.
I don't believe it is a good policy to criticize the administration's strategy as failing, while at the same time cutting the very funding necessary for the administration and the troops to succeed, and then putting conditions on releasing the funding provided. They just don't all fit together.
We have to look no further than the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to find ``the way forward, a new approach for Iraq.'' Just last months when we debated the Iraq war resolution, 106 Members from both sides of the aisle mentioned the importance of the Iraq Study Group and how they supported it.
Last night Mr. SHAYS asked the Rules Committee to make in order an amendment that I was cosponsoring to do exactly that, and it was turned down, and just at the very time the diplomatic engagement that most of us wanted to see take place begins to take place. The meeting 2 weeks ago had us engaging with the Syrians and the Iranians. We accepted Mr. Moran's amendment in the full committee, which was good, to really put the Congress on record in support of that diplomatic effort.
But Mr. Shays was turned down again, as I was turned down several weeks ago.
The Iraq Study Group's Cochairmen Baker and Hamilton said in the group report, ``The U.S. foreign policy is doomed to failure, as is any course in action in Iraq, if not supported by a broad, sustained consensus.''
This bill is not a broad, sustained consensus. The recommendation of the Iraq Study Group could have brought us, and still may very well bring us, to a consensus that unites the Congress and the nation on Iraq. That is the policy both the Congress and the administration should embrace. This bill does not do it, and I urge a ``no'' vote on it.
Mr. WALSH of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the ranking member, Mr. Lewis, for his hard work in providing this response, this very, I think, respectful response.
I would submit to you that any sacrifice any American has made in Iraq is a worthy, worthy sacrifice.
Mr. Speaker, here we go again. Thus far in the 110th Congress, the House has considered two pieces of appropriations legislation. Thus far, we have twice done so under rules that stifle debate and amendment.
First, we operated under a closed rule on the 2007 continuing resolution, limited debate, no amendments, a bill that spend hundreds of billions of dollars. Now we are doing the same thing with a war supplemental. Let me be clear about what is happening here tonight.
The majority does not want a vote to remove the egregious and unconstitutional provisions restricting the Commander in Chief's authority over our Armed Forces. They do not want to allow us the opportunity to strike the unprecedented deadline for withdrawing our troops. Never before has a Congress in our history written into law a date for the withdrawal of American troops in a war.
They won't allow us that opportunity because Republicans and Democrats would vote bipartisanly to strike that deadline. They have proposed a rule that will prohibit Members from offering amendments that could modify the bill in such a way that the President could sign it.
Let's be clear: by proposing a closed rule, the Democratic leadership signals it wants this bill vetoed. In short, the majority would rather play politics than find a solution to the problem. And who will lose this game of political chicken? The troops who stand in harm's way as we talk; the troops, who are relying on this Congress to provide the necessary funds before the end of May so they can complete their mission successfully and as safely as possible.
This bill should be rejected out of hand and the majority should immediately bring back a clean supplemental so we can ensure that our troops will have the resources they need. Let's stop the posturing and pass a clean bill. That's the bottom line.
Mr. KNOLLENBERG. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the ranking member profusely for granting me this time.
It is with regret that I rise today in opposition to the defense supplemental bill. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I wanted to be able to support a bill that would provide our soldiers with the funding they need to carry out their mission in Iraq. But I must oppose it because it presupposes our defeat in Iraq by tying the hands of the military leaders.
Further, it adds nonemergency spending, lots of spending, and sets new precedents. And of particular concern to me, fails to fix some major problems that were created in the continuing resolution with respect to rental assistance for our neediest families.
The continuing resolution changed the formula for distributing $16 billion in rental assistance under the section 8 program. The result is less funding, more uncertainty, a ``use it or lose it'' mentality, and a loss of any incentive to plan over the long run. It rewards excessive spending and punishes cost-effectiveness and will set public housing authorities against one another by creating new winners and losers every year.
The impacts on the program are staggering. Over 1,220 PHAs in 30 States will lose $460 million permanently. That means forever. I have here a list that I include for the Record of all the PHAs that are going to lose funds and how much they are going to lose. It also includes the name of the Member of this body who represents each of those PHAs.
So the supplemental bill before us today tries to fix some of the problems in the CR, but it fails to do that, and it distracts from the true purpose of this bill which is to support our troops in harm's way.
Mr. Speaker, I will be the first to admit that mistakes have been made in the execution of the war. No one is disputing that. Even Secretary of State Rice has admitted there are mistakes. But there is no sense in looking backward. Not now. We should give the administration's new policy a chance to work before presupposing its failure and our ultimate defeat in Iraq.
Let me be clear: I want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but I want them to return in victory, not defeat. It is time for the Iraqis to assume responsibility for the security of their nation. I am hopeful that the administration's new policy will bring to an end the sectarian violence in Baghdad and provide an opening for the Iraqi Government to step up to the plate.
It was a bipartisan vote of Congress that authorized this war 4 years ago. It is going to take bipartisan cooperation to bring about its successful conclusion. This bill, unfortunately, is anything but bipartisan. It is nothing more than a crafty way for the Democrat majority to set a hard-and-fast deadline for troop withdrawals before we have even given the new Iraq strategy a chance to succeed.
Let's give our troops a chance to stabilize Iraq and come home in victory. Let's pass a clean supplemental which gives the troops the resources they need to protect themselves. I strongly urge a ``no'' vote.
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Mr. FARR. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Obey for yielding.
I have been against this war since day one, and I am outraged by the President's attempts to escalate it. I want this war to end now, and I want to bring our troops home immediately.
I mourn the loss of 3,228 Americans dead, and countless Iraqi civilians, and extend my deepest sympathies to the families. I repeat, I want this war to end, and I want to bring the troops home now.
Whether we like it or not, this bill before us is the first serious binding legislation to come before the House since the war began 4 years ago. This bill contains benchmarks and time lines for withdrawing our troops.
Even so, in my opinion, this bill does not go far enough. I think it should prohibit U.S. military action in Iran without explicit congressional authorization. But without this bill, the alternative is not acceptable. A supplemental without benchmarks is stay the course.
I have received thousands of letters from my district in support and opposition to this bill. The only way to bring the troops home is to vote ``yes.'' I encourage my colleagues to do the same.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, 1 month ago, we gathered in this Chamber to debate what was called a symbolic resolution on the war in Iraq. I never subscribed to the notion it was symbolic because I believe any official act of this body has consequences. When Members speak, the world listens, friends and enemies alike.
Two weeks ago after that vote, I traveled again to Iraq and Afghanistan to observe conditions in these two fronts on the global war on terror and to meet again with our soldiers. I was the only Republican on the trip, but I view opportunities like these to travel to war zones with colleagues from the other side of the aisle as invaluable.
We all saw that the plans to stabilize Baghdad by reinforcing U.S. troops and integrating them with larger Iraqi units around the city are already under way. Our military commanders in Iraq are already executing their plans to clear, hold, and build; and early reports point towards some progress.
And yet tomorrow, in fact, we vote on a bill, portions of which could potentially affect the safety of our brave young soldiers in Iraq, the lives of millions of Iraqis, and damage our national interest in the Middle East and elsewhere. That is why I oppose this bill in its current form.
Every Member of this House, Republican and Democrat alike, should be working together to achieve some level of success in Iraq and to give our soldiers the dollars they need. We should not be tying the hands of our battlefield commanders, nor undercutting our brave soldiers and marines as they work to secure the peace as we debate here this afternoon and tomorrow.
Make no mistake about it, withdrawal from Iraq before that peace is better secured will have wide and important ramifications. We could potentially have an explosion of sectarian violence in Iraq, killing and bloodshed on a larger, more barbaric scale. Al Qaeda and other jihadists could get a new and more dangerous base of operations. The influence of Iran would grow. The Saudis and moderate Arab states themselves could be threatened. Turkey, a strong NATO ally, could be drawn into the war. And
Iraq's neighbors could see even more waves of refugees.
Mr. Speaker, we are a Nation at war, and the stakes are extremely high for America. Our troops need this money now. They deserved it yesterday. But the Congress has decided to make them compete with nonmilitary, nonemergency, politically motivated spending.
We must give our commanders on the battlefield, and our brave young war fighters, the resources they need to protect themselves and fight the enemy.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join together to honor the service of these young men and women and to find a way forward in Iraq that protects our Nation and results in a stable Iraq that can govern and protect itself.
Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, by refusing to take responsibility for their failed policy in Iraq, the Bush administration has effectively forced Congress to intervene to bring it to a responsible end.
Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Obey, Majority Whip CLYBURN, Chairman Murtha and the Democratic leadership do deserve credit for recognizing this and for doing something that the Republican Congress refused to do over the last 4 years, namely, that is to confront the Bush administration over their failed policy and to commit to bring that policy to an end in Iraq.
But that is a very important step. However, for some of us the question of voting for funds to continue this war with strings attached and no real enforcement really does keep our troops in harm's way. I am disappointed we will not have the opportunity to vote on the Lee-Woolsey-Waters-Watson amendment which would fully fund the safe withdrawal of U.S. troops and contractors by December 31, 2007.
The American people want this, and I will continue to push to fully fund the safe withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and for timelines for withdrawal that are backed up, mind you, backed up by the appropriations power, and that is the power of the purse which the Constitution grants to the Congress. Too many lives have been lost, too many lives have been shattered.
Mr. WICKER. Mr. Speaker, we should be standing together today in bipartisan support for our troops and for the resources they need to be successful in Iraq and the global war on terror. Instead, we have a proposal before us today that micromanages the war from Capitol Hill with ill-advised timelines for withdrawal that jeopardize our chances for success.
This plan is an unruly mess, bad public policy, bad precedent and bad politics. Those are not my words. They come from a Los Angeles Times editorial. The Times is right on target. The editorial goes on to say that by interfering with the discretion of the Commander in Chief and military leaders, ``Congress undermines whatever prospects remain of a successful outcome.''
The L.A. Times is a lot like most American people. They are unhappy with the war. They are unhappy with the way it has been waged, but they still want to give our generals and our troops the best chance for success. That is in stark contrast to the defeatism we see in this proposal today.
Some of our colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle have quoted approvingly from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Here is a quote they have not used: ``The Study Group sets no timetables, and we set no guidelines. We believe that military commanders must have the flexibility to respond to events on the ground.''
The National Intelligence Estimate carries a strong warning against an early troop pullout. It said, ``If coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly during the term of this estimate, we judge that this would almost certainly lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq.''
Despite these cautions, the proponents of this legislation are intent on taking us down a path that would lead to failure and defeat. Setting a date certain for withdrawing from Iraq is a dangerous idea. Our enemies will simply adjust their tactics and wait us out. The consequences of such a withdrawal will be far-reaching. It would signal defeat for the United States and embolden the terrorists in Iraq and throughout the world. It would enable Iraq to establish a beachhead in Iraq from which
to operate, and it would be a catastrophe for the people of Iraq and the region.
There are signs that the new strategy is taking hold in Iraq. General Petraeus believes it will work, and he has our coalition forces engaged fully in this effort to succeed. It would be a grave and irresponsible mistake to undercut our soldiers by passing this measure before the strategy has time to be implemented. [Page: H2917]
The message we send here today should not be one to the terrorists to bide their time and wait for the U.S. to pull out. The message should be one of complete and total support for our troops and for an appropriation of the resources they need to succeed.
Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Speaker, let me say to the Members what hurts our troops.
I found our troops, 44,000, without body armor. I found our troops with a shortage of jammers. I found our troops with a shortage of up-armored Humvees. I find our troops now, because of the policy, having to go back to Iraq before they have a year at home. I find our troops now because of the policy of this White House having to extend troops that have been there 13 months, and I find our troops having to go into combat untrained or not trained as well as they should, not going to the desert
where they have this tremendous training area, going right into Iraq.
That is what hurts our troops. That is what hurts the morale of the troops when you send them without training, without the additional training they need, without the equipment they need and without the resources they need.
We are putting in the resources. If you vote against this bill, you are voting against the resources they need to go into combat.
Mr. TIAHRT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from California.
Mr. Speaker, this bill is a terrible bill. It is only allowed 4 hours of debate. We could have had more debate, but according to the Congress Daily P.M., the Speaker of the House is in New York City tonight at a fund-raiser. So we could have spent the time debating tonight. Instead, we are waiting until tomorrow and the time is limited.
Our soldiers are in need of our support, and they have sacrificed greatly and given their support to us, and they have kept us safe. We have been safe since September 11, 2001, but instead of providing only what the troops need in this bill, it funds domestic spending with $24 billion.
In addition in Title IX of this bill, the language will effectively deny our troop reinforcements or replacements. The language says that no unit may be deployed without being fully mission-capable. If this language were law during World War I, none of the troops would have been fully mission-capable, and we could not have deployed our troops to rescue Europe, and the world would be a very different place.
If this language had been law during World War II, our troops would not be fully mission-capable, and they would not have been available for the victories in D-Day or Iwo Jima, and the world would have been a very different place.
If this language were law during the Korean War, our troops would not have been able to leave the country because they were never fully mission-capable. They were using broken-down World War II equipment, and if they had not gone to rescue the South Koreans, the world would be a different place.
Mr. Speaker, this bill will not let our troops in Iraq receive the reinforcements and replacements they need, and let me tell you why.
To be fully mission-capable, there are three areas of judgment: personnel, equipment and training. Personnel, we can be fully mission-capable. We have the best soldiers in the world, and our units have the right number of people.
Training is a little more subjective. Most people say that they would be ready to be fully mission-capable. However, they do not train on the very same equipment that they use in the field. So there is some contention whether they are actually fully mission-capable or not. Some would say they are not, but definitely in the area of equipment we are not fully mission-capable. The reason: We take the best equipment we have and we put it in the field to protect or troops. We know it is the right
thing to do, but our troops do not train on the same equipment they operate in the field. In fact, they could not leave the United States under this language. Right now, they go to Kuwait and they train on equipment. It is not the same equipment but it's close, it is not the same level of protection that they have when they get in field in Iraq. So they will never be fully mission-capable.
According to the Congress Daily A.M. this morning said Pentagon leaders have repeatedly told Capitol Hill they need additional war funds by the end of April. If they do not receive those funds by April, it will delay repairs, would exacerbate the readiness problem facing nondeployable units which already have equipment shortfalls. In other word, they would not be fully mission-capable, and the results of that, of not being fully mission-capable, is that our troops cannot receive the reinforcements
and they cannot receive replacements. Our troops will be stuck in Iraq. Vote ``no'' on this bill.
The language in this bill ties the hands of our military, and it says that none of the troops that are in America today will ever have the ability to leave this country because they cannot be ``fully mission-capable.'' The Title IX language must be struck from the bill because it is very clear that if we do not strike the language, we cannot get any reinforcements out of the country, we cannot get any replacements out of the country, and therefore, our troops will be stuck in Iraq.
I thank the gentleman from California for yielding me the additional time.
Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Obey, and Chairman Murtha have put together a very solid piece of legislation. This bill puts us on a path to end this war. This legislation holds the Iraqi Government accountable, and it holds President Bush accountable. Let us not forget, this is an Iraqi Government that refuses to pursue national reconciliation.
This bill takes President Bush's benchmarks and puts them into law. This is a bill about accountability. Others have said we are handcuffing, micromanaging. No, this is a bill about setting a policy to extract us from a misguided war.
I ask my colleagues, vote for this bill because it tells the Iraqis it is time for you to step up and defend your country.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
The gentleman talks about how we need to support General Petraeus. Let me quote from Thomas Friedman, who has had years of experience in understanding the Middle East. He said: I hope the Democrats under Speaker Nancy Pelosi keep pushing to set a deadline for withdrawal from Iraq because they are providing two patriotic services that the Republicans failed to offer in the previous 4 years. The first is policy discipline. The other useful function Speaker Pelosi and
her colleagues are performing is to give the President and General David Petraeus, our Commander in Iraq, the leverage of a deadline without a formal deadline. How so? The surge cannot work without political reconciliation among Iraqi factions, which means Sunni-Shiite negotiations, and such negotiations are unlikely to work without
America having the leverage of telling the parties that if they do not compromise, we will leave. Deadlines matter. At some point Iraqis have to figure this out themselves. Since Mr. Bush refuses to set a deadline, Speaker Pelosi is the next best thing. Do not underestimate how useful it is for General Petraeus to be.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of time.
Mr. WAMP. I thank the distinguished ranking member.
Mr. Speaker, for over 12 years in this House and over 10 years on the Appropriations Committee, I have worked really hard to try to be fair, bipartisan, cooperative.
I have to say, though, here today that campaign rhetoric is one thing but when the rubber meets the road on this huge, important bill to have this kind of a process in this kind of a bill is not right. To have over $21 billion of extraneous spending added to this bill, under a closed rule, which is not the regular way here in the House, especially on appropriations, and, frankly, to then even violate your own budget rules is not right.
I have to say that first. It is kind of insider talk, but it is important to know that this is not the regular order and not the way this should be done.
Then I respect all the Members in this House that have served in the military, and I respect so much the gentleman from Pennsylvania and his expertise here. But I disagree that if you vote against this bill, you are not supporting the troops, and you are not supporting the veterans, because I am going to do both, and I always do both.
I do believe that this bill needs to be changed dramatically. I hope to serve on the conference committee, and I hope that the product that comes back from the conference committee is very different, that it is more about supporting the troops and not all these extra things, and that we don't micromanage the war through the appropriations process.
Now, let me also say this. When the President said mission accomplished, he was talking about removing Saddam Hussein. We agreed as a Congress, over half the Democrats in the Senate voted to do it, almost half the Democrats in the House voted to remove Saddam Hussein. I wish that wouldn't have sent the signal that it was accomplished because the mission wasn't accomplished. The mission is not accomplished, and the mission may not be accomplished in August of 2008.
As a matter of fact, this threat is not going away. One thing I know a lot about is this threat of jihadism. I have read 20 books. I have been to lectures. We cannot retreat from this threat. We must stand against this threat.
Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, this week Congress takes up its obligation to finally change course in Iraq. This week as we enter the fifth year of the Iraq war, more than 3,200 American lives have been lost, tens of thousands more are wounded, and sectarian violence threatens to spill over into the entire Middle East with no prospect for a stable, constitutional democracy in Iraq in sight. We must judge this war not for what we wish it were, but for what it has so clearly and tragically
become, a mistake of historic proportions.
I believe America should be sending a clear signal by beginning to reduce our troop levels now so the Iraqi Government takes responsibility and diplomacy can begin for real. I support phased redeployment over the next year and will seek every opportunity to mandate such change in law. Let us serve our men and women fighting overseas and recognize their sacrifices by charting a new course in Iraq.
By voting for this supplemental appropriations bill, we vote for accountability in Iraq. We vote to force a change in policy and in law, requiring a phased, responsible redeployment of our troops over 12 to 18 months. There are too many lives at stake here, and, personally, I have crossed the Rubicon on this war.
Regardless of whether this bill is blocked by a filibuster from Senate Republicans or a threatened veto from President Bush, we must support this bill today. Passing this bill in the House will be the first formal act, the first step toward requiring a new course in Iraq. We all know our troops will do anything their country asks. But let us make sure their courage and their sacrifices advance a mission that enhances our security and our interests.
We need to begin reducing our troops and pursuing a new strategy in order to achieve a stable Iraq, a peaceful Middle East, and a more secure America.
That is our obligation. Let us honor it by voting in favor of this supplemental bill.
Mr. MURTHA. One of the Members said, how many less Iraqis have been killed? I don't know how many less Iraqis we killed. I know 62 individual American soldiers or marines have been killed this last month.
I want to say about equipment, I have got a chart here with the Army National Guard. Every single National Guard unit in this Nation, all 50 States, doesn't have the Humvees they need.
Every State, they don't have the 7-ton trucks they need. Every State, they don't have other equipment, the equipment they need for jammers and so forth.
When you say they are training on equipment and are not fully trained, they don't have the equipment to train on. This bill provides that. When you vote against this bill, you are voting against the extra money to fix that problem.
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Speaker, I want to address my good friend, Mr. Murtha, who pointed out that there was a shortage of Humvees back here, particularly up-armored Humvees. Well, let me show you how many Humvees we had at the end of the Clinton administration: up-armored Humvees, zero.
We didn't have any up-armored Humvees for the National Guard to train on, for the Army to train on, for the National Guard to deploy or for the Army to deploy. We had zero. Actually, we had 1,300 at the end of 2000, 1,300. We now have 18,400 up-armored Humvees. We have got roughly 15 times as many up-armored Humvees as we had at the end of the Clinton administration.
Now, let me remind my colleagues how much body armor we had at the end of the Clinton administration, body armor. If I hear another parent call up because they are listening to this debate and they are listening to information which is erroneous, I think it is important for us to remind them, there was nobody armored at the end of the Clinton administration, not one stitch of bulletproof armor at the end of the Clinton administration. Today there are just under 1 million sets of body armor for
Now, let's talk about what we didn't fund in this bill. We didn't fund the ambush protection vehicles to the full extent that the Army asked for. The Army asked for $4.75 billion worth of ambush protection vehicles. Those are vehicles with the V-shaped hulls so that land mines will be deflected and they have strong enough sides so that IEDs will be deflected.
Now, my colleagues, I will tell you why everybody, Democrats and Republicans, should vote against this particular supplemental, and it is because of one of the restrictions that is placed [Page: H2921]
on this. There is a 15-day notice and wait period in this bill that says that no unit can deploy until notice is given 15 days before that deployment. We have not done that since our birth as a Nation, saying you can't deploy reinforcements, you can't deploy an emergency
unit. It could be a bomb-clearing unit; it could be an IED unit. It could be a medical unit. You can't deploy it for the men and women of the Armed Forces who are engaged in combat until 15 days have expired. We have gone over this with the lawyers and they say it is a 15-day notice and waiver. You can't do it.
Vote ``no'' on this very bad, very defective bill.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.
Mr. Speaker, the gentleman can have charts, but the charts don't change facts. I would also observe that the important thing is not what happened 7 or 8 years ago. The important thing is what we are going to do today and tomorrow.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
Mr. HUNTER. I thank my friend for the courtesy of yielding.
Mr. Speaker, let me just say we took a 1999 101st Airborne battalion. We compared them today with the 100,000 pieces of new equipment that they have got. The 1999 Airborne Battalion today, if it was rated C-1 in 1999, would be rated unready today, not because they are not good warfighters or capable, but because there is brand-new equipment. If you don't have your flu shot, you are rated unready for combat.
Mr. MURTHA. Let me just say to the gentleman from California, when President Clinton was President, Bush as a candidate was running against him. He said, look, you are not ready to go to war. He said, two entire divisions of the Army would not have had to report until they are ready.
Let me tell you what it would be today. Almost no division in the United States is ready to report for duty if we had to send them out someplace else to a national threat. That is the difference today. Today we are trying to fix this. Today we put money in the bill to fix this.
Mr. MURTHA. The gentleman has to realize, we put it in. They didn't ask for much of this. I found the 44,000 shortage of body armor. I found the shortage of Humvees. We came back, and we put it in. BILL YOUNG, JERRY LEWIS and I put it in. The Armed Services is the one that is causing the problem.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds. Again, we can debate yesterday until the cows come home. What Mr. Murtha and I are trying to focus on is what we do in this bill today to make tomorrow better for our servicemen and our country. That is the issue, and that is the issue that this bill tries to address.
Mrs. CAPPS. Thank you, Mr. Obey.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act.
For the past 4 years, the previous leadership in this Congress has given the President a blank check for his misguided and mismanaged war in Iraq. That war has taken the lives of more than 3,200 of our brave troops, wounded tens of thousands more; countless Iraqis have died.
Congress refused to fulfill its constitutional obligation for oversight and its moral obligation to end the war. So today, we take the first step toward meeting those duties.
Mr. Speaker, I have opposed the Iraq war from the beginning; I voted against it in 2002. And as a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, I want to bring our troops home sooner than the fall of 2008. But tomorrow, with this bill, we all will make a decision. Either we will continue to give this President a blank check in Iraq on a never-ending war, or we will have established a responsible timetable for withdrawing our troops. Bring this war to an end. The choice is clear for me, I will vote to bring
this war to an end.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to yield 2 minutes to the marine from the Armed Services Committee, Mr. Kline of Minnesota.
Mr. KLINE of Minnesota. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I am saddened and, frankly, appalled that today in this House of Representatives we are debating a bill to put ``retreat and defeat'' into law at a time when we have our young men and women engaged in combat. There are many things, Mr. Speaker, which affect the morale of men and women in uniform and men and women in combat, but putting into law mandating their defeat is certainly one of them.
Mr. Speaker, on February 10, 2007, General Petraeus addressed the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilians under his command in a short letter. In that letter, General Petraeus explained quite clearly that ``the way ahead will not be easy. There will be difficult times in the months to come. But hard is not hopeless, and we must remain steadfast to help improve security for the Iraqi people.''
Mr. Speaker, this bill makes hard hopeless.
As a 25-year veteran of the Marine Corps and the father of a soldier recently returned from Iraq, it is with great hardship that I now oppose this emergency supplemental. This supplemental does not support our military; it undermines the best opportunity to prevent the dire predictions of our Intelligence Community when they put out that NIE saying that this course of action which will be driven by this bill will increase sectarian violence, cause massive civilian casualties, create a terror
safe haven and a potential for wider conflict that would draw in other regional powers.
Again, General Petraeus said, in talking to his soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, ``Success will require discipline, fortitude and initiative, qualities that you have in abundance.'' Would that we have more of that here.
February 10, 2007.
TO THE SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AIRMEN, MARINES, AND CIVILIANS OF MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE--IRAQ:
We serve in Iraq at a critical time. The war here will soon enter its fifth year. A decisive moment approaches. Shoulder-to-shoulder with our Iraqi comrades, we will conduct a pivotal campaign to improve security for the Iraqi people. The stakes could not be higher.
Our task is crucial. Security is essential for Iraq to build its future. Only with security can the Iraqi government come to grips with the tough issues it confronts and develop the capacity to serve its citizens. The hopes of the Iraqi people and the coalition countries are with us.
The enemies of Iraq will shrink at no act, however barbaric. They will do all that they can to shake the confidence of the people and to convince the world that this effort is doomed. We must not underestimate them.
Together with our Iraqi partners, we must defeat those who oppose the new Iraq. We cannot allow mass murderers to hold the initiative. We must strike them relentlessly. We and our Iraqi partners must set the terms of the struggle, not our enemies. And together we must prevail.
The way ahead will not be easy. There will be difficult times in the months to come. But hard is not hopeless, and we must remain steadfast in our effort to help improve security for the Iraqi people. I am confident that each of you will fight with skill and courage, and that you will remain loyal to your comrades-in-arms and to the values our nations hold so dear.
In the end, Iraqis will decide the outcome of this struggle. Our task is to help them gain the time they need to save their country. To do that, many of us will live and fight alongside them. Together, we will face down the terrorists, insurgents, and criminals who slaughter the innocent. Success will require discipline, fortitude, and initiative--qualities that you have in abundance.
I appreciate your sacrifices and those of your families. Now, more than ever, your commitment to service and your skill can make the difference between victory and defeat in a very tough mission.
It is an honor to soldier again with the members of the Multi-National Force--Iraq. I know that wherever you serve in this undertaking you will give your all. In turn, I pledge my commitment to our mission and every effort to achieve success as we help the Iraqis chart a course to a brighter future.
Godspeed to each of you and to our Iraqi comrades in this crucial endeavor.
David H. Petraeus,
General, United States Army Commanding.
Ms. KILPATRICK. I first want to commend Speaker Pelosi for her leadership and tenacity, for doing the right thing for America; to Chairman Obey and Chairman Murtha for working together to bring this bill to the floor.
In my 30 years of public service, this is probably one of the most difficult votes I will make, but it is the right vote. I will vote ``yes'' to support the supplemental.
This war has lasted longer than World War I and World War II. More than 3,200 young men and women have lost their lives, over 30,000 amputees and the like, mental health services that we don't yet know we will have to endure from this ill-advised war.
It is a good supplemental. Is it perfect? No. But it does begin to change course, to change course that this Nation needs that we begin to invest in America, to take care of our children, to bring our soldiers home. I wish we could bring them home tomorrow, but there is a process, and this bill begins that process by using the President's own benchmarks that the Iraqis would rise up and take care of their own country, their own people. This is a civil war; we ought not be in it.
I ask you to vote ``yes'' on the supplemental.
Mr. PENCE. I thank the distinguished gentleman for yielding, and I thank him for his leadership on this and so many other issues affecting our national defense throughout his career in Congress.
I rise in opposition to this supplemental bill because, simply put, it is fiscally irresponsible and constitutionally flawed.
Mr. Speaker, emergency war spending bills should be about emergency war spending. This bill, with $124 billion in spending, only includes $111 billion in spending that is actually related to the war on terror in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
Thirteen billion dollars in this legislation will be spent on unrelated domestic spending; $25 million for spinach, $125 million for shrimp, $75 million for peanuts, $5 million for shellfish. That is not a war spending bill, that is the salad bar at Denny's.
Mr. Speaker, we all know that with the deadlines for withdrawal, retreat and defeat, this bill is constitutionally flawed. Congress can declare war. Congress can choose to fund or choose not to fund military operations. But from the very inception of this Nation, no truth has been more evident, Congress cannot conduct war. In fact, the fear of war by committee was debated and rejected in Philadelphia in 1787.
The Democrats have a plan to end the war. Our Commander in Chief has a plan to win the war. The problem with the Democrat plan is, as Orwell said, ``The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.''
Let's reject the Democrat plan for withdrawal, retreat and defeat. Let's give our soldiers a clean bill, no pork, no strings attached, and let's unite this Nation behind our Commander in Chief's plan to win a victory for freedom in Iraq.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, the House is poised to vote on legislation that, if passed, will cripple our foreign policy for many years to come and place our troops and all American citizens in great danger. It is a bill that seeks to abandon the Iraqi people, that seeks to abandon our closest friends and allies in the Middle East, leaving them to fend for themselves against radical Islamic militant jihadists. It is a bill that provides a roadmap for the insurgents, giving them a detailed account
of the benchmarks they need to focus on in order to ensure an American withdrawal from Iraq.
Regardless of victory or failure, this bill demands withdrawal from Iraq. It [Page: H2924]
demonstrates very little confidence in the ability of our troops to get the job done in Iraq and defeat the terrorists there.
My stepson Doug and my daughter-in-law Lindsey have served proudly as marine fighter pilots in Iraq, and Lindsey will soon head back to another tour of duty in Iraq. They do not believe that you can separate the soldier from the mission. They do not believe that we have an option to simply walk away. Doug and Lindsey and many others like them do not want Congress to add to the burdens and the dangers that they face by legislating restrictions, deadlines and arbitrary instructions that only benefit
The obvious danger of this legislation has been demonstrated by the desperate measures that the majority has resorted to in order to overcome fierce resistance in their own caucus. An emergency war funding measure should not be used to pay for programs that benefit narrow, favored constituencies.
I doubt that this ambition by the majority to micromanage the war will be their last attempt. Are they envisioning assuming command and control of the positioning and movement of our troops; of setting daily targets for air strikes; of determining our negotiation strategy with allies and opponents?
Perhaps a war room should be set up outside this Chamber so that they can make it easier to offer instructions on the battlefield.
Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Mr. Obey for yielding me this time. I want to thank Mr. Murtha for his leadership. And I assure them that I agree with them in principle. I just disagree in process.
The American public knows a simple truth: you cannot be against this war and vote for $100 billion to continue it.
The Democrats were elected in November because, as recent polls consistently show, the American people want us, are actually expecting us and are demanding of us that we, the Congress, bring our troops home as soon as possible. They do not trust the President to do the right thing. They want us to hold him accountable. The public didn't elect Democrats to bring our troops home in 2008. They elected us to be bold, to bring our troops home now.
Let me make myself very clear. I will not stop, I will not rest and I will not back down in my fight until every last American soldier is home safely with their families.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this irresponsible spending bill.
Mr. Speaker, we owe it to our brave service men and women who are fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq to make sure that they are the best equipped and most successful troops in the world. While the Democrats would have you believe that this legislation does just that, it couldn't be further from the truth.
This supplemental is a prescription for defeat in Iraq by tying the hands of our military leaders and setting a date certain for withdrawing our troops. If we fail in Iraq, the resources now devoted by terrorist organizations and nations sponsoring terrorism there would be turned to spreading terror around the globe, including, again, on American soil.
It is through the hard work and sacrifice of our American troops that the ideals of freedom continue to be spread. We owe them the resources they need to complete their mission, but this bill does not meet that threshold.
Mr. Speaker, I am also alarmed that the Democrats are treating a wartime, let me repeat, wartime funding bill as a collection cup for pet projects.
Many Members have already mentioned the litany of pet projects in the bill, so I do not need to repeat these so-called domestic emergency spending provisions. I would like to mention, though, how ridiculous this bill must seem to troops and their families listening or watching us on C-SPAN.
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how I will respond when asked by constituents why funding for some $15 billion in pet projects is necessary when attempting to fund the global war on terror.
Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that some of these extraneous provisions may be worth examining, but how would we know? We did not hold oversight hearings on these issues and have, therefore, abdicated our responsibility to the taxpayer. If there is a problem, I am sure we can make the necessary fixes in regular order.
I urge my colleagues to vote down this legislation and fund our troops with a clean supplemental bill.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this legislation, and I commend Chairman Obey, Chairman Murtha, and Speaker Pelosi for putting it before us today.
I come here also to speak to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. With all sincerity, no one questions your patriotism or love of country. And yet we hear you come down here and belittle the proposal that we have before us and call Democrats defeatists, when it is you who have surrendered your judgment. You surrendered that judgment when you didn't listen to Scowcroft or Eagleberger or Baker or Kissinger or even Powell or Shinseki.
When you don't listen to the generals or even the soldiers in the field, you mock men when they stand up here and in principle, like JACK MURTHA, who you know have always stood on behalf of the troops of this country, and today offers more than $4 billion more that the President has put forward. But because of your blind, myopic allegiance to a failed policy, you have surrendered your judgment to what is the right thing.
Chairman DREIER asked us what is victory. Victory is joining with us in this proposal. Victory is once again standing on the Capitol steps hand in hand, as we all were against the war in Afghanistan, and once again fighting terrorists by going after the guys who actually took down the buildings, who hit the Pentagon.
Stand with us in the war against terrorism. End this God-awful situation in Iraq. Provide the Iraqis with the back bone that they need to stand up by giving them the tough love and the deadlines that this legislation requires.
Mr. SCOTT of Georgia. Ladies and gentlemen, let me just say this: the American people are waiting on this Congress to finally stand up and be Congress. This is one of the reasons why we are in the position that we are in right now is because Congress has not done its job.
One of the most sterling moments of that was 2 years ago when it came to attention on this floor that our young men and women were over in Iraq without body armor. Every news cast had it where they were going into dung heaps, into landfills, trying to get body armor.
It was Democrats, at that time, that stepped forward and put the amendment in the resolution to make sure that our troops have body armor. And that is the genesis of this legislation.
This is a big ball game, and you have got to get to first base first. And what we are saying is, when we move out with this resolution, paramount is taking care of our troops, making sure that they have the body armor.
I am here to tell you the American people know that this war has had a tremendous drain on our American economy. The importance of this measure, ladies and gentlemen in this House, is that we cannot go forward without the confidence of the American people. Passage of this bill gives us that confidence.
Mr. SCOTT of Georgia. Ladies and gentlemen, let me just say this: the American people are waiting on this Congress to finally stand up and be Congress. This is one of the reasons why we are in the position that we are in right now is because Congress has not done its job.
One of the most sterling moments of that was 2 years ago when it came to attention on this floor that our young men and women were over in Iraq without body armor. Every news cast had it where they were going into dung heaps, into landfills, trying to get body armor.
It was Democrats, at that time, that stepped forward and put the amendment in the resolution to make sure that our troops have body armor. And that is the genesis of this legislation.
This is a big ball game, and you have got to get to first base first. And what we are saying is, when we move out with this resolution, paramount is taking care of our troops, making sure that they have the body armor.
I am here to tell you the American people know that this war has had a tremendous drain on our American economy. The importance of this measure, ladies and gentlemen in this House, is that we cannot go forward without the confidence of the American people. Passage of this bill gives us that confidence.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I come to the floor here, Mr. Speaker, to stand up for this Constitution, for our United States military, for our Commander in Chief and for the future and the destiny of America, because we need to take another level up along on our destiny.
But this Constitution gives this Congress only three things we can do with regard to war. One of them is to declare war, which we have not done since World War II, one of them is to raise an Army and a Navy, and by implication, an Air Force, and the next one is to fund it. There are no provisions in there for micromanaging the war, and that has been clear, and it is [Page: H2926]
a historical precedent, and there is no precedent throughout the last century, at least,
that allows this Congress to assign 435 generals to this task.
And so, Mr. Speaker, I would submit that this is an unconstitutional appropriations bill. And if it should go to the President's desk, he should veto it in its entirety and bring it back here. Force this Congress to do the right thing that is constitutional and not be micromanaging in this war.
This is not a General Pelosi war to fight. This is a Commander in Chief, George W. Bush, fight.
Ms. McCOLLUM of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this legislation, in support of our troops, in support of our veterans, and in strong support of ending the Iraq war.
After 4 years of mismanagement, mistakes and excuses, the Bush administration and their supporters in Congress continue to be comfortable with a ``stay the course'' policy, while American troops are in the middle of an Iraq civil war.
Passing this supplemental appropriation requires leadership. It will be the Democrats passing this bill, taking the first historic step towards ending President Bush's Iraq war.
It will be Democrats who hold President Bush and President Maliki accountable for achieving the political conditions that will allow U.S. troops to come home safe and soon.
Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Obey, Chairman Murtha all deserve to be recognized for their courage and their leadership in bringing this war to an end.
And I urge all my colleagues to support this bill and take the first important step towards ending the war in Iraq.
Mr. INGLIS of South Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to say that setting deadlines for withdrawal from Iraq is unacceptable. I am in agreement with the concept of adding a series of success checkpoints, and I suggested as much in a letter to the President 2 weeks ago. It worked before when we set deadlines for a new constitution and elections, and I think it could work again.
But withdrawal is the Democratic leadership's only solution if the Iraqis fall short of the benchmarks. That is simply too simplistic. It is too limiting. It is tying the hands of the President and the Pentagon.
We should have benchmarks, but the response shouldn't be all or nothing. These benchmarks should carry a gradation of consequences, rather than an all-or-nothing withdrawal.
Pulling back to the perimeter is an obvious step between surging and withdrawal. There are other gradations that our military leaders could propose to the President.
To begin an immediate withdrawal upon failure of a benchmark is like writing a lease with an eviction-only remedy for a late payment. It makes sense to have a section in the default paragraphs calling for a late payment fee before you begin the eviction.
The leadership in Iraq needs to know that they don't have forever to make the decisions regarding dividing up the oil fairly and regarding returning Baathists to positions of public service. They need to know they don't have forever in coming up with a working model of pluralism. We are providing their protection. We have the right to tell them to hurry. We have an obligation to our servicemen and women to tell the Iraqi factions to hurry.
But we don't need to tie the hands of our field commanders and our President with an arbitrary withdrawal date, predetermined by some political purposes and not by what is happening in the Iraq.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey) for yielding.
And, Mr. Murtha, you were right, and the leadership.
I rise here today because I stand next to those who have lost their lives, so many of them around the country, but so many in Houston, Texas.
I said I would travel with this board from Houston to Washington, and I said that I would do what was right to make their sacrifice one that we continue to honor. We mourn them. Their families mourn them.
This is the right direction because the military goes to battle, but we go to war, and the Constitution does say that this Congress can declare war. It was not declared. And, frankly, it is not an interference. The generals are working, but we are redirecting policy.
In fact, we are providing for unit readiness, length of deployment, time between deployments, money for Afghanistan, money for prosthetics, money for brain injury. We are providing for a new life for these soldiers when they return home. And like the former member of the Intelligence Committee says, this bill is right. I quarreled with it. I fought with it. But I believe it is the right thing, though many of us want a different direction.
Vote for this supplemental.
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, as a founding and active member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, someone who identifies closely with the peace movement and a ``no'' vote on the war itself, I rise in support of this measure because for the first time we have a date certain for the war to end, a date when U.S. combat troops must be out of Iraq.
It is not the bill I would have written, but it moves us closer to the goal, as clearly stated by Speaker Pelosi, of ending the war in Iraq.
Like many progressives, I have consistently voted against funding for this war. We have withstood Republican critics who say we are hurting the troops, because we know the way to care for them is to get them out of the meat grinder that is Iraq.
This vote draws a clear line between those who want to stay indefinitely in an unwinnable war and those of us who, along with the majority of Americans, want to end it. After 4 horrifying years of war, finally the issue before us now is when, not if, we will leave Iraq.
We aren't going to end the war with any one vote, but this vote should be the beginning of the end of this tragic chapter in our history. It will have my support.
Mr. HENSARLING. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. [Page: H2927]
Mr. Speaker, I think perhaps this is the single worst bill to come to the floor since I have been in Congress.
It is likely unconstitutional. It creates 435 Commanders in Chief. It attempts to micromanage the war. It threatens our national security. It contains billions in unrelated spending. It wraps old-fashioned pork in the American flag. * * *
Twenty-five million dollars handed out to spinach growers, $74 million for peanut storage, $35 million for NASA.
Mr. HENSARLING. Mr. Speaker, in the interest of having the House have its proceedings move forward, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the offending word or words.
Mr. HENSARLING. Mr. Speaker, again, $74 million for peanut storage, $35 million to NASA, $283 million for dairy products.
I question, is this the Democrats' version of fiscal responsibility? Is this their version of reform? Our national security should not be handled so frivolously. The cost of fighting this war obviously is high. The cost of fighting this war is obviously high, but the cost of losing this war is even higher.
I would say to my Democrat colleagues, if you don't believe in the mission, if you don't believe that our troops can win, then you have the power to bring them home, and bring them home today. But we shouldn't employ this slow-bleed strategy that could deny our troops vital reinforcements and vital equipment and open up pork-barrel spending to finance it.
A great Nation deserves better. We should vote this bill down.
Mr. HENSARLING. Mr. Speaker, again, $74 million for peanut storage, $35 million to NASA, $283 million for dairy products.
I question, is this the Democrats' version of fiscal responsibility? Is this their version of reform? Our national security should not be handled so frivolously. The cost of fighting this war obviously is high. The cost of fighting this war is obviously high, but the cost of losing this war is even higher.
I would say to my Democrat colleagues, if you don't believe in the mission, if you don't believe that our troops can win, then you have the power to bring them home, and bring them home today. But we shouldn't employ this slow-bleed strategy that could deny our troops vital reinforcements and vital equipment and open up pork-barrel spending to finance it.
A great Nation deserves better. We should vote this bill down.
Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, the main responsibility of leadership is to lead, and that is exactly what Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Obey, Chairman Murtha and other members of the Democratic leadership team are doing, and they are doing it with a plan.
My constituents who want this war ended as quickly as possible can take heart in the fact that this supplemental sets a time certain to begin to pull our troops out of Iraq and bring them to a peace-loving home, a home where we value peace, a home where the will of the people is listened to and heard, a home where we will continue to protect and promote democracy.
I support our troops, I support leadership, I support peace, and I support this legislation.
Mr. POE. Mr. Speaker, this is supposed to be a war supplemental bill, but there is so much nonwar spending in this bill. For example, one portion of the bill dumps millions of dollars in Liberia. The last I saw, Liberia is not even on the same continent as Iraq. And why does this bill have anything to do with funding Liberia and their needs?
But more importantly, this bill puts our troops at risk, because it sows the cloud of defeatism and cynicism that seems to be predominant in Washington, D.C.
Congresses before us have tried to run the war, even as far back as the Continental Congress. They were so upset with George Washington, they wanted to get rid of the Commander in Chief and replace him with somebody else. His comments to the Continental Congress then are worth noting today. He said, ``We should never despair. Our situation before has been unpromising and has changed for the better. So it will again.''
And that is what we must do. Support our troops. Give them the troops that they need to finish the mission that we have asked them to accomplish on behalf of national security.
Mr. HARE. Mr. Speaker, the American people have paid a tremendous price for our 5-year occupation of Iraq. Over 3,100 U.S. lives have been lost and more than 23,000 wounded, and nearly half a trillion taxpayer dollars have been spent. In my own congressional district, nine servicemembers have given their lives to the conflict in Iraq.
I am committed to bringing our troops home safely and as soon as possible. The legislation before us today holds the Iraqi government accountable by imposing strict benchmarks for success. If the President cannot show that the Iraqis have met these standards by July 1, 2007, a troop withdrawal will begin immediately and must be completed within 180 days.
These measures not only provide the support our troops need and deserve, but they also force this President to think twice before asking our brave military men and women to serve a third or fourth tour in Iraq, and requires and provides the resources our troops need when they come home. [Page: H2928]
But this bill also honors our veterans by investing billions of additional dollars for their health care. And, for the first time since this war began, Congress is not giving the President a blank check.
Mr. Speaker, I believe we can bring a reasonable, timely end to the war in Iraq, and if this bill does that, we will also protect our troops.
I urge my colleagues to cast their important vote for this bill.
Mrs. WILSON of New Mexico. Mr. Speaker, this is an unusual spending bill, because we are voting to spend money for the military while putting conditions on the use of that money that will make it highly likely that our military will fail. That doesn't make any sense.
This bill is also an example of the wisdom of the Constitution that was written so many years ago, and we would be well advised to respect the wisdom of that Constitution that separates the powers among the branches.
We need to understand our role here as a Congress. It is not to micromanage dwell times and to put limits on deployments so that the sergeants and the captains who are jumping through enough hoops as it is have one more set of hoops to jump through, courtesy of the United States Congress.
History will not end on your schedule. We need real leadership from this House to focus on what America's vital national interests are and how we will pursue those interests for the long term.
Mr. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be down here, and I am glad that the chairman brought this bill up.
I can tell you the only thing that I can see in this bill is ultimate accountability and oversight by this Congress, which hasn't happened in the last two emergency supplementals, those that I voted on and those that I voted in the affirmative on.
But the good thing about this bill is that we have the troops back. We are saying that they have to be prepared, just like the Department of Defense says that they have to be when they go off to war. This is actually in this bill.
We look at this bill dealing with health care for our veterans, we look at planning, we look at the needs of our troops. Once they get back here to the United States, this bill covers and starts that investment that we have to make to make sure that we take care of our troops in the field and when they get back here at home.
So this is very, very important, Members. I would hate for my Members on either side of the aisle to be on the other side of this bill, because you have a lot of explaining to do when you get back home, the reason why you voted against this bill. You can call Members of Congress, General X and General Y, but the bottom line is accountability is in this bill and funding.
Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman very much for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that this is an extraordinary moment in American history. Indeed, I would suggest that this is an unprecedented moment in world history.
I know of no example in the history of mankind where a Nation at war with troops in the field has announced that on a date certain almost 2 years off it will simply unilaterally stop the war. I don't believe that has ever happened before in human history, and I believe it is a stunning moment.
What I do not understand is how you can explain that or defend that to either the soldiers you are asking to fight for the next year and a half or to their families. And I am not the only one who finds this to be a strange policy, a dangerous policy, a risky policy, an ill-advised policy.
The Los Angeles Times wrote just a few weeks ago, ``It is one thing for the House to pass a nonbinding vote of disapproval. It is quite another,'' they said, ``for it to set out a detailed timeline.'' It then went on and said, ``This is the worst kind of congressional meddling in military strategy.'' Those are the words of the Los Angeles Times.
Then let's look at another source. In 2005, now majority leader of the U.S. Senate Harry Reid said, ``As far as setting a timeline, that is not a wise decision, because it only empowers those who don't want us there.''
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, Joe Biden, said a deadline for pulling out ``will only encourage our enemies.''
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said, ``I don't believe it is smart to set a deadline for withdrawal.''
This is a policy that makes no sense, and this is a policy that can do nothing but harm our troops and our Nation.
Mr. WYNN. I thank the chairman.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill. But it is not the bill I wanted. I think we should begin an immediate troop withdrawal, but this is a good compromise bill that has the virtue of setting a date certain.
Now, I hear my colleagues on the other side of the aisle talking about ``micromanagement.'' Well, I will tell you, we have great United States troops who perform admirably in spite of the incompetence and lack of planning by this administration. And I will tell you what our troops deserve. Number one, they deserve that we meet the readiness standards that our military has established, and this bill says it. We will meet our readiness standards, and we will make sure our troops are adequately
trained and adequately prepared before we deploy them.
The second thing they deserve, and this is very important, they deserve accountability by the Iraqi people. The Iraqis need to disarm their militias. The Iraqis need to come up with a political solution. The Iraqis need to divide the oil revenues. That is not something the military can do.
Third, our troops deserve a date certain not because we are ``losing the war,'' but because we are going to take a new direction that relies on negotiation and diplomacy, rather than warfare and bloodshed.
Mr. AKIN. Mr. Speaker, my concern with this supplemental is that it is designed to fail.
In section 1904, funding for the Iraqi security forces will be cut if the new government does not pass a constitutional amendment to ``promote reconciliation,'' whatever that is, to ethnic groups, I suppose. In short, to amend the Constitution in a way that is not defined in a period that cannot be completed.
Now, earlier on this floor, Representative Conyers stated that it would take 10 years to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to protect D.C. voting rights, and yet we expect Iraqis to pass a constitutional amendment to fix ethnic tensions in 6 months, not to mention the other tough challenges imposed by this bill.
This supplemental is like a promise written in disappearing ink: it is designed to fail.
During World War II, the Japanese stole blueprints of some U.S. submarines. They built a submarine, but when it launched, it turned upside down and sunk because it was designed to fail.
This substitute is designed to fail. It is designed to fail because it is going to defund the Iraqi security forces which are our best hope of success. Of all of the blood and the sweat and the tears that has been spilled in the desert of Iraq, is this how it is going to end, by a bill that is designed to fail by not funding the Iraqi security forces?
The trouble with the submarine, Mr. Speaker, is that my son and the sons and daughters of Americans across this Nation are inside. We cannot allow this substitute to pass because it is designed inherently to fail.
Ms. WATERS. Mr. Chairman, thank you for allocating the time for me to come and basically disagree with you on this floor, but that is what democracy is all about.
I don't believe that this bill will do what it is intended to do. I don't believe it makes good sense to say that our troops should be well trained and well equipped, and then give the President the right to waive that.
I don't believe that the President will report to us in any fashion that we can rely on in July, which will determine whether or not we get out by December or whether we continue to give assistance to the Iraqis.
I don't believe that it is enforceable, and I don't believe that this war will end by next August even though I think that is what the leadership intends for it to do.
This war has been mismanaged. We have been misled. We have been made to believe we would be welcomed with open arms. There were no weapons of mass destruction. That the troops were getting trained and success was right around the corner, and even last week when carnage was taking place in Iraq and our soldiers were being killed, this administration was out in the media talking about we were succeeding. And we will continue to be misled. This war has been mismanaged.
We don't have any friends in Iraq. The Sunnis do not want us there. The Shiites don't like the occupation, and the Kurds don't like us. We are undermined on a daily basis.
Even Mr. Maliki, who is supposed to be our ally, is working with Sadr over in Sadr City, who controls the militias. The police departments that are supposedly working to secure the people [Page: H2930]
are part of the undermining that is going on. Our soldiers, when they are in confrontations, are deserted by the very people that they are supposed to train.
General said this cannot be won militarily, it must be done diplomatically. I don't see the diplomatic effort.
I don't believe that giving $100 billion to the President of the United States to continue this war will achieve the goal that we intend for it to achieve. I oppose this legislation. I will continue to work with the Out of Iraq Caucus, and I am hopeful we can end this war and bring our soldiers home.
Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, today I proudly rise to celebrate a remarkable anniversary, that which marks a day of Greek independence which took place 186 years ago on March 25. It is also a celebration which recognizes the strong ties that bind together the United States of America and Greece.
What a blessing to be able to straddle two brilliant cultures that have been the beacon of liberty and justice for humankind. Nothing makes me prouder than to call myself American, for it was the United States that welcomed my grandparents and allowed them to bring their morals, their values, their faith, their rich ethnic traditions and work ethic to this great land of opportunity and freedom.
God, indeed, shed his grace on America, as he has on Greece, the prototype for the democratic republic that became the United States. Imagine, what a curious notion it may have seemed thousands of years ago when the ancient Greeks put forth the idea, a man being able to engage in self-rule. The originality of ideas articulated by Plato, Socrates, and all the great thinkers of ancient Greece served as an inspiration to America's colonial leaders like Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and Hamilton.
It is the American revolution in turn that likely served as an inspiration for the Greeks that were suffocating under the Ottoman rule. 186 years ago the people began a journey that would mark the symbolic rebirth of democracy in the land where those principles to human decency were first espoused.
March 25, 1821, is a historic day for all people who treasure freedom. Greece rose up in arms, fought brilliantly and finally overthrew the Ottoman rule, showing the world their deep and abiding commitment to democracy. The flag of revolt was raised by Bishop Germanos of Patras. Cries of Zito I Ellas, ``Long Live Greece,'' and Elefteria I Thanatos, ``Liberty or Death,'' could be heard from the mountains of Suli to the shores of Crete.
In fact, the bravery of the Suliotes demonstrated that acts of courage were not limited to the men of Greece. The fierce patriotic villagers of Suli fought the Ottomans in several battles. News of their victories spread to nearby villages and inspired others to revolt. When the women, who were left alone, learned the Ottoman troops were approaching their village, they began dancing the Syrtos, which we still do today, a patriotic Greek dance. One by one with the children in arms, the Suliote
women sacrificed themselves for the cause of liberty. They chose death rather than oppression.
Stories of sacrifice like that of the Suliotes are plentiful. These actions, as [Page: H2933]
well as the exploits and victories of the Greek Navy under Miaoulis, Kanaris, Bubulina, and Kolokotronis inspired the people of Europe, who finally brought pressure upon their governments to intervene in the fighting and compel the Sultan to recognize Greek independence, which finally secured the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829.
We commemorate Independence Day each year for the same reasons we celebrate our 4th of July. It proved that a united people through sheer will and perseverance can prevail against tyranny. Both of our nations share an illustrious history in defense of this cherished ideal. Both countries have shared a common commitment to the principles of equality and freedom. In many ways, the American experiment might not have been possible without the Greek experience.
Indeed, as Thomas Jefferson noted: ``To the ancient Greeks we are all indebted for the light which led ourselves, American colonists, out of the Gothic darkness.'' Democracy and freedom are the guiding beliefs that give hope to millions around the world.
Remembering the sacrifice of the brave Greeks who gave their lives for the cause of liberty helps us all realize how important it is to be an active participant in our own democracy.
As Plato noted: ``The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.'' Greeks, like Americans, have never been indifferent to the welfare of mankind. We share a belief that citizens must be engaged in governmental affairs and must work to promote liberty and justice throughout the world. That is why we honor those who secured independence for Greece nearly two centuries ago. Let us always remember their commitment to freedom. God bless America and Zito I Ellas.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I want to urge my colleagues this evening to support House Resolution 106, a resolution that reaffirms the Armenian genocide.
I also wish to express my support for its swift passage in the House of Representatives. As the first genocide of the 20th century, it is morally imperative that we remember this atrocity and collectively demand reaffirmation of this crime against humanity.
The resolution, which I introduced with Representatives SCHIFF, RADANOVICH and KNOLLENBERG, has over 180 cosponsors. It's also the exact same resolution that passed the International Affairs Committee last Congress by an overwhelming majority.
I strongly believe it is important for Members to understand that this is a matter of historical fact. Many Turkish deniers have been meeting with Members of Congress and sending correspondence, discouraging this resolution. They are claiming that passage of such a resolution would be untimely and counterproductive.
Mr. Speaker, for 92 years this has not been reaffirmed here in this Congress. I think 92 years is far too long for a proper recognition to be made, and its reaffirmation is a matter of conscience.
In the meantime, the Turkish Government has threatened to close supply routes to U.S. troops in Iraq if this resolution is considered. It's appalling that a country who claims to be our ally would put the lives of soldiers at risk in the pursuit of its desperate campaign to deny the systematic slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians.
The highly reputable International Association of Genocide Scholars recently wrote to Members of Congress urging support for the Armenian genocide resolution, and I request permission to insert their letter in the Record.
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
March 7, 2007.
DEAR MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS: We write to you as the international organization of scholars who study genocide. We strongly urge you to co-sponsor H. Res. 106, the House Resolution recognizing and commemorating the Armenian Genocide.
In three previous statements of the International Association of Genocide Scholars--first, a unanimous resolution declaring that the Turkish massacres of Armenians in 1915-1918 constituted genocide; second, an Open Letter to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan calling upon him to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide; and third, an Open Letter concerning scholars who deny the Armenian Genocide--we have made our position clear: the historical record on the Armenian Genocide is unambiguous and documented
by overwhelming evidence. It is proven by foreign office records of the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia, and perhaps most importantly, of Turkey's World War I allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, as well as by the records of the Ottoman Courts-Martial of 1918-1920, and by decades of scholarship.
We believe it is important for Members of Congress to understand that Turkey's nine-decade-long campaign to deny the facts of the Armenian Genocide is driven by a government that has yet to engage in the honest historical self-critique that is a vital part of the democratic process. The numerous trials and imprisonments of Turkish intellectuals and journalists and the assassination of the Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink in January make this clear. It should be noted that there are Turkish
scholars who are urging their government to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, and many parts of Turkish society share this pro-democratic perspective. We would note, however, that a government that still encourages extreme, uncritical nationalism has created a false narrative about the Armenian Genocide in order to absolve its predecessors of responsibility for the extermination of the Armenian people and their culture in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.
We are aware that you may be pressured by a small number of academics who support Turkey's denialist stance for often self-interested reasons. Such academics willingly falsify, distort, and manipulate the evidence in sometimes subtle ways to present a false view of history. These academics violate the ethical obligations of historical scholarship. We have noted that academics who deny the Armenian Genocide are no different than academics who deny the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide, or the Cambodian
Genocide. The recent conference in Teheran devoted to Holocaust denial is a case in point. ``Where scholars deny genocide in the face of decisive evidence ..... they contribute to false consciousness that can have the most dire reverberations. Their message, in effect, is ..... mass murder requires no confrontation,
but should be ignored, glossed over. In this way scholars lend their considerable authority to the acceptance of this ultimate crime'' (Roger Smith, Eric Markusen, Robert Jay Lifton ``Professional Ethics and the Denial of the Armenian Genocide,'' Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol. 9, Spring, 1995).
We urge you to reject the Turkish campaign of denial, as you may be meeting with groups and individuals who are ardent deniers. We would underscore that the Armenian Genocide is not controversial, but rather is denied only by the Turkish government and its apologists.
We urge you to pass H. Res. 106:
(1) It is a recognition of an historical turning point in the twentieth century, the event that inaugurated the era of modern genocide. In spite of its importance, the Armenian Genocide has gone unrecognized until recently, and warrants a symbolic act of moral commemoration. The Armenian-American community first arrived in the United States as refugees and survivors of this great catastrophe and of earlier massacres in the late 19th century.
(2) Congress will honor America's extraordinary foreign service officers (among them Leslie A. Davis, Jesse B. Jackson, Oscar Heizer, and Ambassador Henry Morgenthau) who often risked their lives rescuing Armenian citizens in 1915. These courageous American diplomats left behind some 4,000 reports totaling 37,000 pages, now in the National Archives, documents that prove the Armenian mass murders were government-planned, systematic extermination--what Raphael Lemkin named genocide. By this resolution
the U.S. Congress would demonstrate that the moral principles and courage of those foreign service officers continues to represent a powerful example of American leadership. It is in the interest of the United States to support the principles of human rights that are at the core of American democracy.
(3) Inasmuch as the popular effort in the United States to rescue and bring relief to the Armenians, first from massacres in the 1890s and then from genocide in 1915, set the [Page: H2934]
stage for the era of modern human rights activism, H. Res. 106 would honor this significant contribution to United States history.
(4) We expect that the United States would not permit foreign governments to intrude on its own legislative process. We also expect that the U.S. government would not be influenced by threats to close American military bases or cut off sales of military hardware, especially when that pressure comes from a country with a deeply disturbing human rights record today, including violence and repressive measures against writers, minorities, intellectuals, and scholars.
(5) As crimes of genocide continue to plague the world, Turkey's policy of denying the Armenian Genocide gives license to those who perpetrate genocide everywhere. Just as we would not sanction denying the Holocaust, we cannot give credence to Turkey's falsification of the facts of 1915. Denial is the final stage of genocide, as it seeks to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators.
We believe that it is in the interest of the Turkish people and their future as proud participants in the international democratic community to acknowledge the responsibility of a previous government for the genocide of the Armenian people, just as the German government has done in the case of the Holocaust.
We would be happy to meet with you in person, and would gladly supply you with the scholarly evidence that has led to the unanimous resolution of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Turkish massacre of over one million Armenians from 1915 to 1918 was a crime of genocide.
Israel Charny, Ph.D.,
President, International Association of Genocide Scholars.
Gregory H. Stanton, J.D., Ph.D.,
Vice President, International Association of Genocide Scholars.
I would say, if I could quote some sections of that letter, in that letter the scholars state their position clearly, noting that the Armenian genocide ``is proven by foreign office records of the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia and even of Turkey's World War I allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary.''
They also say: ``Just as we would not sanction denying the Holocaust, we cannot give credence to Turkey's falsification of the facts of 1915; denial is the final stage of genocide.'' They are unanimous in their findings.
Mr. Speaker, the American people and this Congress should deserve a full and truthful account of the role of the Turkish Government in denying the Armenian genocide. Congress should be allowed to reaffirm that genocide was orchestrated by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 to exterminate its Armenian citizens.
Ms. SCHWARTZ. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow this body will vote on the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.
After 4 years of failed policies from the Bush administration, and absolutely no accountability demanded by the previous Republican-led Congresses, this body has the opportunity to say enough. We say enough to continuing the open-ended war with no end in sight. We say enough to giving away hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the Iraqi Government without any real mechanisms for accountability. We say enough to ignoring the will of the American people who have overwhelmingly demanded a new direction
and a new course in Iraq.
This week the Iraq war will enter its fifth year. It has already eclipsed the length of the U.S. participation in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. More than 3,200 American heroes have paid the ultimate sacrifice, while more than 24,000 have been injured, and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, just as millions have been fleeing the country.
Despite this immense sacrifice and hardship, the President's war strategy has not made the Middle East or our Nation safer.
Today the Middle East is less stable than it was in 2003. An Iraq in chaos and an emboldened Iran has fundamentally changed the balance of power in the region in a way that undermines the security of our Nation and the entire region. The war has caused us to lose sight of the mission in Afghanistan where the Taliban is resurgent and Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and other key members of al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on 9/11, are still at large and
still plotting against us.
Our own National Intelligence Estimate tells us that the war in Iraq estimate has increased, and the threat of terrorism globally has increased.
Just 2 weeks ago, I visited Iraq, and I met with the brave servicemen and -women. I deeply admire these individuals and their families. Out of pure selflessness and a profound love of our Nation, they have volunteered to serve. They do so humbly and honorably.
The Bush administration owes them a strategy that is worthy of their sacrifice. When they failed to provide it, we must hold them accountable. Our Nation can no longer afford the failed policies put forward by President Bush.
We must step forward, abandon the rubber-stamp policies of the previous Congress, and reassert our place as a coequal branch of government. Tomorrow we will have the opportunity to meet this obligation and put the administration on notice. The days of writing a blank check for the mistaken and mismanaged war are over.
When we send our men and women into Iraq without the proper equipment, training and rest, as the President continues to, we expose them to greater danger. This legislation we will vote on tomorrow recognizes this fact by requiring the President to honor his own standards and the standards the Department of Defense has set for the troop readiness, training and equipment.
When our own wounded warriors return to the United States, we as a Nation have an obligation to ensure that they are taken care of. There is simply no excuse for the deplorable conditions of neglect that our soldiers have faced at Walter Reed medical center. That is a national disgrace.
This legislation addresses our veterans health care crisis by adding $1.7 billion to treat the growing number of veterans, to address the maintenance backlogs at the VA health care facilities, and to ensure a significant level of personnel to deliver quality services. This legislation recognizes that the only solution in Iraq is political and diplomatic.
As General Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq, has said: ``There was no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq.''
This legislation will hold the Iraqi Government accountable by requiring them to meet their own benchmarks for political progress.
We are putting them on notice that they must take the political steps necessary to achieve stability, including disarming the militia and a plan that equally shares oil revenues around the country.
We are also sending a strong clear message to the Bush administration that they must engage in tough diplomacy needed to ensure that Iraq's neighbors do not continue to undermine the efforts of our troops or they undermine the hope for stability in Iraq.
Most significantly, this legislation will lead to the responsible end of our military engagement in Iraq through a phased redeployment of U.S. combat troops.
Instead of continuing the President's policy of open-ended commitment, strategically redeploying combat troops from Iraq, while maintaining a small presence to train Iraqi troops and engage in counterterrorism operations is the most responsible strategy in Iraq.
We will move our troops from direct engagement. It will require the Iraqis to protect Iraqis, and it will allow our Nation to be better prepared for other contingencies affecting the security of our Nation. [Page: H2935]
Let there be no mistake: this is the President's war, and the President must be held accountable for its military and diplomatic failures. With this vote, we are demanding that the President meet his obligations to our men and our women and to our Nation.
Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, the stay-the-course strategy in Iraq has failed. The war in Iraq is entering its fifth year, longer than U.S. involvement in World War I and World War II. It is time to stop the open-ended commitment there. It is time for the Government of Iraq to take responsibility for their own security. It is time to start the process of bringing our troops home. It is time to refocus our military efforts to combat terrorism. It is time to send a clear message that Congress will no
longer provide a blank check to fund this war. It is time to pass the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.
Supporting this bill supports the troops before, during, and after they are deployed. This bill enforces the Department of Defense's current standards for military readiness and provides $2.5 billion in additional funding to ensure that our troops are properly equipped and trained; it provides $1.7 billion in additional funding for health care for our troops, and another $1.7 billion to ensure our veterans receive the care they need and that they deserve. We must support our troops in the theater
and when they come home.
This bill is tough on terrorism, tougher than the President's current plan that pays little attention to the war in Afghanistan. It adds $1 billion to the Department of Defense efforts there. We have lost our focus in the war on terror. We must redirect our military efforts on thwarting terrorism in Afghanistan and eliminating al Qaeda. This bill does that.
The current strategy has not worked largely because the Iraqi leadership has no real motivation to make it work. This bill holds both the President and the Iraqi Government accountable by ensuring that real progress is made. It is time to turn over the control of Iraq to their people.
Our troops have done their part, and they have done it magnificently. The American people have done their part as well by giving us their sons and daughters who ousted Saddam Hussein. With the cost of this war approaching one-half trillion dollars, it is time for the people of Iraq to spend their dollars, supply their troops, and setting their differences. The destiny of Iraq is now in Iraqi hands.
Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will vote on legislation to set a path for the responsible redeployment of American troops from Iraq. I will support this bill because it will end American involvement in the Iraqi civil war and bring our troops safely home.
This week marks the fourth anniversary of a war born in deceit and prolonged by mismanagement. I voted against the invasion in 2002; I will vote now to end this war by supporting the Iraq Accountability Act with its benchmarks and timetables for redeploying U.S. forces from Iraq.
For 4 years, previous Congresses neglected their oversight responsibilities while the administration made mistake after mistake. The congressional majority failed to conduct thorough investigations, demand accountability, or offer policy alternatives. We have paid a steep price for that neglect, including the lives of more than 3,200 American Armed Forces, with another 24,000 wounded, many critically.
The new Congress is providing long overdue leadership, taking action to end U.S. involvement in a civil war with no end in sight. Responsible military disengagement from Iraq is in the national security interests of the United States. There are no easy, cost-free options. But our perpetual presence in Iraq has sapped our military strength, undermined our credibility around the world, and limited our investments in domestic priorities like health care and education.
This week, the House of Representatives has a choice: Either endorse the President's open-ended commitment, or adopt a plan that demands accountability, sets a timeline for redeployment, and restores the readiness of our Armed Forces.
The President's strategy of indefinite intervention is simply not sustainable. The situation in Iraq has moved beyond our military's ability to shape events in a positive direction. Extending our presence merely delays our ability to recover the ground we have lost, our diplomatic initiative, our global reputation, and the broken state of our ground forces.
The Iraq Accountability Act has three key components:
First, it uses President Bush's own benchmarks to require the Iraqis to assume responsibility for their own security. If they meet those benchmarks, all American forces would leave Iraq by the summer of 2008. If they do not, American forces will leave as early as the end of this year.
Second, the bill supports our Armed Forces by requiring the President to certify that any troops deployed to Iraq are fully and properly equipped, and that their deployment follows Department of Defense standards for readiness and rest between deployments.
Third, it provides funds needed to ensure that returning troops and veterans receive the best possible health care and other services they deserve.
The American people expect us to say where we stand on the war in Iraq. By supporting the Iraq Accountability Act we are voting to use the long-neglected powers of Congress to bring U.S. involvement in the Iraqi civil war to an end. I urge, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support the Iraq Accountability Act when it comes to the floor tomorrow.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I am Ron Klein, and I represent Florida's 22nd Congressional District in Congress, which is southeast Florida, Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach area, and I have the privilege of anchoring tonight's freshmen's Special Order. We decided as a group of freshman, and there was a large group of us that were elected this year, to meet on a regular basis and to discuss policy, those of us who had contested races, those of us who did not have contested races,
but all of us new with this process coming in with a fresh perspective and the belief that hopefully we could influence the process in a way that would move things along, which is, I think, the loud message we heard from the people that elected all of us, both Democrats and Republicans this year.
Tonight our Special Order is going to focus on the importance of accountability and oversight within our Nation's government. There is no question that the ability to exercise accountability and oversight among the executive and legislative branches, that is our branch and the President's branch, is vital to making sure that our government is operating and governing within the highest ethical and moral standards, and makes sense. It is also important to make sure our government is doing the right
thing for our people.
It seems that every time we are turning on the news lately or pick up the newspaper, there seems to be some story about where there is no accountability. And the oversight and lack of accountability seems to be the prime topic of conversation back home in our districts, in our offices, in our supermarkets, in our churches and synagogues. If you just think about the most recent one, the United States attorney scandal, where a number of U.S. attorneys were fired; and, of course, there is a question
about for what purpose they were fired and whether there is a reason, and now there is a question of getting all the information out on the table.
The ongoing concerns over Valerie Plame and the outing of Valerie Plame. And, of course, I think most of us as Americans understand, when someone works for this country as a member of our intelligence services, we owe that person the highest degree of respect and integrity and make sure that their position is held confidential. And certainly anybody who is responsible for outing that person should be held accountable and punished.
Conditions at Walter Reed Hospital. And we are going to talk about that a little more tonight, and, unfortunately, other veterans hospitals. And I am happy to say that in my area and in many other parts of the country that there are some very good things going on in our veterans hospitals and our veterans outpatient clinics, but many times it is a matter of having the resources to have enough doctors in place. And I know I have heard from time to time about long waiting lines. But there are places
like Walter Reed and other places that have now been identified where you had mold and you had ceilings falling in and lack of care, and people that were working there that were overworked and unfortunately not providing the type of treatment that should be awarded. The highest level of respect should be awarded to our men and women who are our heroes in this country.
And, of course, the no-bid government contracts being awarded to companies doing business in Iraq to the tune of billions of dollars of waste, and certainly not accomplishing the major goals. One of the goals we went in there with, of course, was to take out Saddam Hussein, but I think everybody understood very quickly that if we were going to be successful in changing the hearts and minds, that some of the rebuilding activities, getting electricity on, getting hospitals up, creating jobs, those
kinds of things would be very, very important to making the people of Iraq feel that this was a worthy cause to set up their own government. Unfortunately, we have spent billions of our money over there, and, unfortunately, the condition is in many ways worse today than it was with the fall of Saddam Hussein.
The news on these subjects is everywhere. So tonight we are going to talk about accountability and oversight, and my colleagues who are going to join me tonight as freshman Members recently elected are going to be talking about how we are working to restore those features of accountability and oversight to Washington and our government.
A couple things I just want to touch on before I turn over to my colleague Congressman Hodes. On November 7, which was last year's election, we believe that the American people, I know we all heard this as we walked door to door and heard from the American people, they wanted change. It wasn't necessarily Democrat or Republican; they wanted people to come together, find common ground, and move forward. And fortunately for this country, this House has, in fact, started that process. There
were six items very quickly that were passed in the beginning called the 100 Hours, the Six for '06, everything from fixing the Medicare prescription drug program, which I know many of our seniors are concerned about making it easier to use, less costly to the taxpayers; minimum wage, making the minimum wage higher, of course, is a key issue; lower student loan rates; and a number of other issues like energy policy. These are the things that we came to work on and that were done.
We also passed the lobbying reform bill and a full disclosure bill which has already significantly reduced the influence that lobbyists have on this legislative process. We need to do more, but we certainly took a lot of the right steps by not allowing lobbyists to take Members of Congress out to lunch. We had that in Florida, we changed that, and I am glad we changed that here, too.
And, of course, the earmark process. And for those of you who don't know what earmark is, that is this idea: In the past, Congressmen, Members of the Senate and House, would go behind closed doors and add millions and tens of millions of dollars, even hundreds of millions in some cases, of special projects in the dark of night to the budget without any consideration by all the Members of Congress. And that needs to change, and I am very happy to say that with new earmark reforms in place, that
The way it is changing is very clear: Anything that is presented needs to be presented in the light of day. It needs to be publicly disclosed and laid out for the Members of the Congress so that a legitimate project in Alaska should be a legitimate project in Florida. Even though it may benefit one State, we all [Page: H2937]
represent this country, but it has got to be done the right way.
This week we passed important legislation which curbs waste in Federal contracting; strengthens protection for whistleblowers, and those are, of course, people that discover and come forward when there is waste and corruption in government; and also provides long overdue of the veterans health care crisis and other Federal issues. We are going to talk about accountability of tax dollars. We are going to talk about a number of other things.
I am joined by some colleagues here, and I would like to introduce them. We have got Congressman Ellison, who is going to join us and talk to us a minute; Congressman Hodes. Congressman Welch is going to join us for a few minutes.
You look like you are poised and ready to go, Congressman Hodes, so why don't you kick off and give us a little oversight on what you are going to talk about on oversight and accountability.
Mr. HODES. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for being here with us tonight. I am delighted to be a new Member in the House of Representatives, the people's House, sent by my constituents to help restore the fabric of our democracy, which, during the past 6 years, has really been torn and undermined by a rubber-stamp Congress which refused to ask questions of an administration conducting its policies largely in secret, taking the American people down a path with counterfeit leadership, a leadership
that used fear and intimidation to lead, instead of real leadership which helps people face reality, come together and seek common ground and solutions.
And for many people, when they think of the United States House of Representatives, they think of Congress as a body which raises revenue and figures out how to spend it. It sets taxes and sets a budget. And that is how a lot of folks think about Congress, and sure we spend a lot of our time doing that.
But there is another very important function of the United States Congress in our constitutional scheme, and it is completely independent of what party is in the White House, what party is in the majority in Congress, what party is in the majority in the Senate. It is the way that, in the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, they set up this great government of ours so that there would be checks and balances, there would be controls. And the accountability and oversight function of Congress is what
we have restored with this Democratic majority.
There have been great leaders who have recognized that important feature and that important job of Congress. And I have got a chart here, a little board and a quote that is really important and talks a lot about what it means for Congress to exercise its function of accountability.
President Woodrow Wilson said, ``It is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees. It is meant to be the eyes and the voice and to embody the wisdom and will of its constituents. The informing function of Congress should be preferred, even to its legislative function.''
So here is President Wilson, some years ago, recognizing that the oversight and accountability function of Congress is perhaps even more important than the legislative function.
So for this Congress, while the last Congress might have been called ``the rubber-stamp Congress'' or the last Congress might have been called ``the Katrina Congress'' because they presided over such a disaster for us, I bet that this Congress, under Democratic majority, is going to be ``the accountability Congress.''
Now, one thing that is interesting, I want to take us back for a moment as we sort of set the tone for tonight to talk about something that happened in ancient times. It has been said that the ancient Romans had a tradition. Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, at the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible, he stood under the arch. In the President's war on terror, the capstone he chose is Iraq, but it
is everyday Americans, and especially our veterans, returning soldiers who are wounded and our veterans who stood under the arch as it crumbled.
Over the past few weeks, we have sustained blow after blow as the President's plan fell apart. But it is not the President who will pay the billions necessary to stabilize Iraq, it is not the President who slept in molding infested rooms at Walter Reed Hospital, it is not the President who lost his job because of a political decision. But maybe it ought to be.
The confluence of events of recent weeks, the Valerie Plame scandal, the Walter Reed scandal, the politically motivated firing of U.S. Attorneys, is the result of an administration that went too far for too long without any meaningful oversight, without any meaningful accountability, without a Congress to hold it accountable. It has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely. And for years, absolute power is what our Republican colleagues, who were in control until November of 2006, gave
to this administration.
Tonight, I come to the floor with my colleagues to talk about restoring accountability to government because the arch has fallen on us, and we are going to repair it.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Thank you, Mr. Hodes. I think you laid it out very well.
I think the average American believes very strongly in accountability and oversight because they understand, that's how they live their lives. If you have a business, you can't do anything without keeping track of your books, keeping track of you inventory, keeping track of your personnel, your employees, and knowing that there is an end-point. And you will make money or not make money by running it efficiently with oversight. And I think that nobody is asking for any more than that in government.
And, unfortunately, as you have pointed out very eloquently, that is exactly what has gone on without anybody looking after it. And many of the committees were either not operating or were abolished in the last number of years, and that just doesn't make any sense.
So I think you pointed out very appropriately that we are glad I think in a way that the Democrats are leading, but I think the Republicans are now joining us. And, again, this is a bipartisan approach to fixing this.
Mr. Ellison, I know that you have been leading and talking about this as well, so give us some of your thoughts, please.
Mr. ELLISON. Madam Speaker, let me thank my colleagues, the gentlemen from Florida and New Hampshire, both for their eloquent remarks. I am looking to my colleague, Congressman Welch and his remarks, but I would like to say that the bedrock idea behind accountability in government is trust in government. If somebody is not accountable, if they are not answerable, if they don't have to tell you whatever you want to know, if they can tell you to take a hike, take a walk and they don't
have to listen to you and they are not answerable to you and not accountable to you, as the public, then what you cannot have is trust.
Trust goes away when accountability goes away. Trust leaves the room when there is no one to answer the question about what happened. Trust leaves the room when you cannot have a public official look you in the eye and say here is what happened, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Accountability is not about perfection because when you have a human endeavor, there is no such thing. But accountability is about being able to say, you know what, those folks up there on Capitol Hill, I believe that they are doing the best they can because when I asked my question, they gave me an answer. When I came forward with my concerns, they gave me a reply. They had the documents. They were able to say, here is what is going on.
But when government, Madam Speaker, will not answer, we have problems, we have a lack of trust, and unfortunately sometimes people disengage. But this Congress is here to turn that around. This Congress is here to say, no, there will be accountability. You can trust your government. You can expect that your government is going to be operating on your behalf.
Let me turn to an example. One example is that for the last several years [Page: H2938]
we have had prosecutors, United States Attorneys, trying to do the best they could in many instances at ferreting out corruption in government. We saw prosecutions go on, former Congressman Cunningham and others, and we saw prosecutors who were appointed by a Republican administration to essentially do their job. As you know, Madam Speaker, prosecutors are not like other attorneys.
Their job is to seek justice, find the truth. They are ministers of justice, whereas other attorneys, very correctly, have, within the rules, no other obligation than to zealously represent their client. But prosecutors have a higher calling than that, and that is because it is their job to protect the public.
But what we found out recently is that eight of them have been fired, and it appears very clearly that the reasons were entirely political. Eight of them have been fired, and the evidence that has been unearthed so far in only 3 months of this ``accountability Congress,'' as the distinguished gentleman from New Hampshire is calling the
phrase, in this accountability Congress, the first 3 months we have seen getting to the bottom of this question of justice being undermined.
The Democrats have brought back accountability. And what we have seen that is unfolding right now is that the Justice Department has released thousands of pages of e-mails based on the demands of the accountability Congress, and internal documents as well, related to this U.S. Attorney scandal. These documents would not be in the public domain. They wouldn't be in front of the people. They wouldn't be available for questions to get to be asked and answered but for this accountability Congress.
I am so proud to be associated with this accountability Congress because what it means is that the U.S. Attorneys, whether they be U.S. Attorneys or food inspectors or people who work at the hospitals taking care of our veterans, they now can know that there is not going to be an intolerable condition that exists for too long before some inquiring person in Congress says, what is going on over there. Thank heavens for it.
And I just want to point out, and I will get back to this in a little while, I just want to point out that even Patrick Fitzgerald, who was a prosecutor in a recent case that you may have heard of, the Scooter Libby trial, in which he obtained four convictions out of five counts, he himself was rated as ``not distinguished.'' He was not distinguished in the eyes of the Bush administration officials. And I can see why they would find such a gentleman as ``not distinguished,'' because he did not
evidence enough loyalty and obedience to the administration, but he certainly did bring forth some real accountability in government.
I am going to yield back now, but I am going to be sticking around because I have more to say about this. I am going to yield back now; but before I do, I just want to say that accountability breeds trust in government and trust in government promotes an active, engaged citizenry which is fundamental to democracy.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Thank you, Mr. Ellison.
I think that, again, the example you gave is something that is on our front pages. We are hearing about it and we are listening.
Some people have said, well, what is the difference if someone is coming forward or if they are coming forward under oath. Well, I like to see, when someone comes forward, that they put their hand up and say, I swear to tell the whole truth. I can't imagine somebody wouldn't want to do that and what are they hiding if they are not prepared to do that. That seems to be a little battle going on between the Congress and its investigative authority and the President. But, again, I think you put your
hand up, we are expecting the truth anyway, and I think that is an appropriate thing to do.
Mr. Welch, our representative from Vermont in our class, why don't you share with us some of your thoughts on this.
Mr. WELCH of Vermont. You know, it is very elemental: you get what you pay for, you account for what you buy, you are responsible to the people that hire you, you are responsible to the voters.
The opportunity that I have had about addressing some of these issues of accountability, maybe I can just tell a few stories about some of the hearings we have had, because it is worse than I expected. I come from Vermont, where we don't know how to waste things. We do it over recycle, reuse, do all of those things. But, you know, I am on the Oversight and Government Operations Committee, and we have had a number of hearings. And let me just tell a few stories, because I think rather than have
me give some conclusions, let people just hear what some of the facts are.
We had some hearings on Iraq expenditures, Iraq relief money. And the Government Accountability Office has come up with an audit that suggests that a minimum of $10 billion was wasted. But a couple of graphic examples came forward that just stunned me, frankly. One was that our Federal Reserve, at the orders of the government, sent $12 billion in taxpayer money, in cash, loaded in skids, shrink wrapped in plastic cellophane over to Iraq. Now, why did that happen? It wasn't accounted for, but
it was sent over there to pay salaries for people who were working in Iraqi ministries. And of course it happened at a time when there was a desperate effort on the part of the administration to show some progress in Iraq. And one of the ways of trying to show progress is that we have these ministries up and running and we have employees who are working and doing the basic jobs of providing electricity, of dealing with pensions, and the things that are the functions of government.
Most of that money went missing because it turned out that some of it was literally handed out from the back of pick-up trucks in Baghdad, and it went to employees who were ghost employees. There were these various ministers in the Iraq Government who had a position of influence and saw an opportunity and they took it and made millions and millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
Now, you know, there is no Republican, there is no Democrat, there is no Independent who can fathom the idea of literally loading 347 tons of 100-dollar bills on C-147 transports and sending it to a foreign country to be handed out on street corners. At home, when I go to Vermont and I tell this story, I almost pinch myself because it is so astonishing that I am wondering whether it is true. Unfortunately, it is true. That is something that is happening with taxpayer dollars.
Another example: $57 million was spent, Madam Speaker, awarded a contract to a Falls Church company that was going to construct housing in Baghdad, I think it was outside of the airport, it was going to be for, Congressman Hodes is on that committee, so if I get some of these details wrong, you can correct me. But basically it was a housing contract that was going to provide housing for trainees of the Baghdad police. Not a bad idea. One problem: the housing was never built. The only
residue of the $57 million are hundreds of mobile homes that are now parked, unoccupied, on a tract of land outside the Baghdad Airport.
Now, even our government got embarrassed at this. And someone in the State Department suggested that what we should do, since we had all these homeless people in Baghdad but they couldn't live there, we didn't have housing units set up, we just had these facilities, the suggestion was why don't we donate these mobile homes to the victims of Katrina. And I had the opportunity to ask the question everybody else would ask, was it their plan to move the folks in New Orleans to Baghdad or was it their
plan to move the mobile homes from Baghdad to New Orleans? That actually happened, all right.
A third example: this isn't so much about wasting taxpayer dollars; it is about violating basic rules of political integrity really.
This whole question of global warming that people now recognize is real, it is urgent, and it is immediate. And I believe it is becoming a bipartisan consensus. We are not arguing whether it is true.
Well, we were arguing whether it was true. In our committee we had before us a press person that worked for the administration, and his job was to edit reports. Editing apparently included [Page: H2939]
taking scientific conclusions that were reached by scientists doing a scientific method, experimentation, drawing conclusions, maintaining academic integrity, and then putting them through what was an edit that was a political filter that actually changed the outcome
of the scientific conclusions. And it was all intended to meet the political agenda of the administration that wanted to resist the conclusion that global warming was real, urgent, and immediate.
There are certain lines you can't cross, and that is one of them. The people of this country, obviously, are entitled to the benefit of honest science. Then we have to make a decision, all of us, about what to do with it, what policies should we pursue. But, bottom line, we have to have that integrity.
So these are just a few examples that I was exposed to as a Member of Congress serving on committees. And I think it reinforces the point that you are making because every American wants and is entitled to accountability, honesty in whatever element of the government we are working in, with our finances, with the services of scientists, and every other sector.
So my friend, Mr. Klein, those are a few of the experiences I have had serving on a committee here.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. The examples obviously go right back to what I think we all believe in strongly as Americans: common sense. Use common sense when you do anything. When you make decisions, use common sense. When you follow up, use common sense. I mean, the examples that you have cited are so extraordinary, they defy common sense.
Mr. WELCH of Vermont. It is really true. And it is not a partisan thing. I am trying to figure this out because all these things did happen on the Republican watch. And it is a Congress that I think turned its back on its responsibility. But I sometimes wonder whether that concentration of all power and a reliance on ideology meant that if you had an ideology and you had a set of facts and if they didn't fit, you would throw the facts out and stick with the ideology. But it is not a productive
and winning strategy. So I have been mystified by it.
And, Ron, you and I come out of State legislatures that are smaller, where Republicans and Democrats tend to work together. You have this close relationship and a lot of this stuff just doesn't happen there. So it is mystifying to me how it happens here. But I think it is a lot less likely to happen now that there is a cop on the beat and that our committees are just checking under the covers to see what is going on.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. I am glad to see, Mr. Welch, some of the legislation coming forward. Mr. Waxman and others have proposed eliminating or limiting no-bid contracts and putting all this out there. And I think this is a bipartisan issue. Nobody seems to have any problem with it. But I think, as you said, it is long overdue.
Madam Speaker, we are joined by another Member of our freshmen group, and it is Mr. Perlmutter from Colorado. We are now geographically dispersed from the Southeast to the East to the Midwest and the West.
So why don't you give us some of your thoughts from the Colorado perspective.
Mr. PERLMUTTER. Good evening to my friends from the freshmen class. And I just want to say I listened to my friend from Minnesota as well as my friend from Vermont, and the reason we are here, the reason Mr. Ellison is here, the reason Mr. Welch is here, Mr. Klein is here, Mr. Hodes is here is because this Nation wanted checks and balances, and checks and balances means accountability.
There has been no accountability in Washington for the last 6 years; and as a result, we have had a variety of problems that have continued to arise again and again and again and again. And we can start with the no-bid contracts in Iraq, and the fact that there is some $10 billion that has evaporated into the ether. That is the kind of thing that we have to stop, and that is the kind of thing that the people of America voted to bring a Democratic Congress into being so that there were checks
and balances to these no-bid contracts; checks and balances to a loss, a complete loss, of $10 billion, the whereabouts of which we are going to try to find, as the Congress of the United States of America is supposed to do, so that we act as a counterbalance to the executive branch. We aren't just here as a rubber stamp.
So start with Iraq. Let us talk about Katrina and the response that was just a horrible failure by this administration to a massive disaster in the United States of America, and the response after the disaster occurred has also been a disaster. As a member of the Financial Services Committee, it is clear that now we are 19 months after the hurricane which basically decimated New Orleans and many cities along the gulf coast, and yet we have not reconstructed, renovated, rebuilt much of the housing
that was completely obliterated in that storm. So not only was the initial response a poor one, but after that the response has been very minimal and has to be improved. That is what checks and balances are about.
Checks and balances are when an administration, for whatever reason, releases the name of a CIA agent to punish her, to punish her husband, to whatever. It is completely wrong and needs to be stopped. And that is why people expect accountability in our government and they like checks and balances.
We have had revelations, Mr. Klein, over the past 2 or 3 weeks as to some of the conditions, particularly at Walter Reed but other veteran hospitals. Again, checks and balances and accountability would rein in excesses or neglect, one or the other. We have seen far too much of it. And we, as part of this freshmen class, are bringing those checks and balances back.
Now, obviously the other side doesn't like it. My friends on the Republican side, today they have been complaining with no end as to the approach we are taking to bring benchmarks to this war in Iraq. And they are complaining and complaining and complaining. But, finally, there are going to be checks and balances on this President and the way he has conducted the war in Iraq.
We are supporting our troops. We are supporting the veterans, and we are bringing conditions and accountability to the administration and accountability to the Iraqi people, as it is time for them to pick up what we have been carrying now for the last 4 years.
The American people understand checks and balances. They were tired of one-party government that led to excesses and neglect. We are here to provide accountability. That is exactly what we are doing. The administration doesn't like it. My friends across the aisle don't like it. But that is what the people sent us here to do, and that is precisely what we are doing.
And with that, Mr. Klein, my friend from Florida, I would like to yield back to you or to any of our other friends who are on the floor with us tonight to talk about why we are here.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Thank you, Mr. Perlmutter. And I think we have heard from some of our friends and we have a lot of others within the Democratic side of the freshmen class. There are 41 of us. It is a big class this year, along with the rest of them, Republicans as well. And I think the message is pretty clear, the things you are talking about, the checks and balances. And, by the way, we have our checks and balances with the President. There are also checks and balances with all
the agencies. And those are some of the things we are talking about tonight, to be sure things are operating the way they should. A big budget. A lot of money. It has to be spent properly. We feel very committed to that.
Mr. Hodes, I know you want to add another thought here.
Mr. HODES. Madam Speaker, I was thinking about what our colleague Mr. Welch talked about in terms of the investigation into the way in which the administration may have interfered for political purposes with the administration of justice by the United States Attorneys, causing the firing of United States Attorneys for political purposes. And it is interesting to me.
I come from New Hampshire, a small State. And probably many of the folks who may be listening tonight and many people in this Chamber, although there aren't too many, have heard of the name Daniel Webster. And Daniel Webster said a very important thing. He said: ``There is nothing so powerful as the truth.'' And, really, that is what we are talking about.
Our colleague Mr. Ellison talked about trust, and what we are really [Page: H2940]
talking about is bringing truth to government, bringing integrity to government, bringing openness, bringing transparency, authentic honesty back into the Halls of Congress and wherever oversight and accountability take us. And in terms of what is happening with the United States Attorney scandal, if we have learned one thing about this administration, it is how it responds
to its critics. When someone says something they don't like, they get rid of them. The current U.S. Attorney scandal is really just the latest example.
And now folks are probably seeing that there is a conflict. The White House doesn't want people from the White House to come to Capitol Hill in the open light of day under oath to tell the truth to committees in Congress and committees in the Senate. And the question you have got to ask is, what is there to hide? Why not come, take an oath, tell the truth, and deal with the issues?
I started my legal career in New Hampshire as a prosecutor. I was hired by a good Republican, a man named David Souter, who is now sitting on the United States Supreme Court. And what I learned as a prosecutor from David Souter was that the critical thing about the prosecutor's role was that the prosecutor serves the people. My job was to stand up and serve the people of my State. The job of the U.S. Attorney is to stand up and represent the people of the United States. U.S. Attorneys don't represent
the President. They don't represent any particular politician. They represent all of the people. And so their judgment has to be independent judgment in order to see that justice is done because what we are after is justice, not political retribution.
So you can imagine what happens in our great system of justice if instead of thinking about truth and justice, the United States Attorney is motivated by political influence. It perverts the system of justice. It means no justice can be had. So the investigations that are going on now, the accountability and oversight over the administration having the folks come down and talk to our committees is absolutely critical. It is fundamental to the preservation of the democratic fabric of this country,
because if an administration, if White House officials can exert pressure on the United States Attorneys and remove their independence, then the people can't depend upon our system of justice.
So this may be one of the most important of the investigations and the new accountability that we are seeing in Congress. And, frankly, what I have said to folks back home is we are not going to let this go by without getting the answers. So when folks see the battle over the subpoenas, when they see the White House resisting having its people come down, folks are asking why. What are you afraid of? Let the truth come out. Let's find out what happened. Now, that is accountability. That is oversight,
and that is why the American people sent us here.
Mr. ELLISON. If a prosecutor, a minister of justice, is required to make sure he doesn't step on any toes of the administration or a particular political power or to make sure that he is not supposed to offend a particular party and if such a prosecutor were to do so, they might lose their job, could that have a chilling effect on the zealous prosecution of anybody who might violate the law?
Mr. HODES. Mr. Ellison, that is called a Siberian express. That is not just a chilling effect. That is ice cubes in your shoes. That puts the fear in the prosecutor. Now, prosecutors are brave people, and these U.S. Attorneys were brave people standing up to do their job. But it has to have a chilling effect, and it is exactly what we are talking about. The independence of our United States Attorneys is the hallmark, the foundation of the Federal system of justice, and it has to be preserved.
And that is why it doesn't matter whether the White House is Republican or Democrat. If this was a Democratic administration that was doing this, we would be doing the same thing if we were following Woodrow Wilson's advice and doing our job here in the Congress.
Mr. PERLMUTTER. Madam Speaker, I do have a point that I want to make. The power of the Federal Government is awesome, and if anybody is on the receiving end of the power of the Federal Government, you have a tough hill to climb. So the reason the people expect their U.S. attorneys and their government to operate in truth and honesty and in justice is because that power is so great, and when it is abused, the trust of the people goes right out the door, and without the trust of the people, we
don't have much of a government here.
The people, in their unbelievable wisdom, maybe that is a little over the top, but the people in their wisdom chose to elect a Democratic Congress and a Democratic Senate because they know checks and balances can stop that kind of abuse. And we are seeing it now.
It is a shame that we see that U.S. attorneys, who could have been fired for any reason except for reasons that might ultimately be unethical, were being let go and were being threatened. That is just wrong, because the administration wanted to see the power of the Federal Government come down on somebody they didn't like.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for pointing out my age, but I am here primarily to salute you for continuing to do this kind of work.
I think, as Mr. Perlmutter pointed out, that the American public, who is always further ahead than the Congress is, found its voice in the November election, and you have given voice to the American people here in the people's Chamber, especially in the area of accountability. Because, quite frankly, as we debate today and throughout the remainder of this year, what we hear from our colleagues on the other side, and I don't question their patriotism or their love of country, and hopefully
they don't question ours, but I do question their judgment.
Prior to you getting here, there has been a surrender of judgment on issues of oversight and review. So you are a breath of fresh air. You are the sunshine that needs to shine into every corner of this great institution of ours, because the people you are sworn to serve and who you have come here to represent, we are clearly proud in the leadership, of the efforts of this majority-making class that has set a new direction and a new course for this great country of ours.
I thank each and every one of you. Thank you for the opportunity to speak here.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. We appreciate your guidance and counsel. As we are listening to many of the things, we are glad to add a new energy to the process here. You can see it here tonight.
I want to bring Mr. Ellison back in. He was really making a passionate statement.
Mr. ELLISON. I also want to add my voice to great things to our leadership, which includes Mr. Larson from the great State of Connecticut. He is an able and well-qualified leader, and it is just great to see him setting the proper tone for our class.
My question was this. We have several Members of the bar who are now in Congress, and I just wanted to throw a question out.
The President has offered to make a deal, and the deal is that the Democrats could interview, not under oath, not on the record, certain White House aides about this scandal regarding the firing of the U.S. attorneys who have been, it appears, perhaps fired for prosecutions they did do and for prosecutions that in their discretion they did not do that could somehow benefit [Page: H2941]
somebody who was running on the other side.
My question is, how does this deal stand in the light of this new spirit of accountability? This deal that would say, yes, White House aides can come in, no going on the record, no under oath, no transcript, behind closed doors, how does that deal stand in the light of this new spirit of accountability?
Mr. HODES. You know, I can give you a perspective on that. I won't take too long to do that.
My experience, and I had many years as a prosecutor and also many years as an attorney in court, is that the oath that you take to tell the truth is a powerful thing. It is a meaningful thing, and it is an important thing, because when a person swears to tell the truth, it has the effect of opening one's eyes to the importance and the majesty of the process that is involved in coming before a body, whatever body that is, and holding up your right hand and swearing to tell the truth.
What happens then is, frankly, the person who is going to tell the truth and swears to tell the truth is subjected to a host of requirements and possible penalties if they don't tell the truth. That also turns out to be a powerful motivator.
In this country we have trial by jury where witnesses come to tell the truth. We have investigations by Congress where witnesses come to tell the truth. And that really has proven to be the best, clearest, most open way in an open, transparent democratic government, like the one that we want to have and want to preserve, to get to the truth.
That is all we are asking. We are not intending to ask folks to say or do anything they didn't do or to tell us something that isn't so. We just want to get to the truth.
So a deal that has people behind closed doors without a transcript of the proceedings, with no way to review what has been said and no ability to do anything if they don't tell the truth, just doesn't cut it.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Obviously there are so many things to talk about in terms of the oversight and accountability. One of the things that I think really hit hard for a lot of the people, particularly if you served in the military, was the Walter Reed Hospital revelation.
Many of us have not served in the military. We may have some family members that receive veterans benefits and things like that. We think of people we ask to serve our country or may have served in the past. They are American heroes on so many levels, and they deserve the highest level of care. So it was shocking, and then shocking even more so when we found out this has been going on for a while.
I think this oversight we have been talking about, the accountability, the proper funding, the proper level of care, doctors, nurses, things like that, so many people in the system are doing good jobs, but there are clearly deficiencies.
Mr. Welch, you have some thoughts on that.
Mr. WELCH of Vermont. Yes, I do. Every American is appalled at what was revealed, the degrading circumstances for our troops at Walter Reed. There were many things that were obviously disturbing about it, the vermin, the rodents, the peeling paint, the unsanitary conditions.
But that is the tip of the iceberg. What was really heartbreaking when you met the veterans was that they were completely lost and abandoned. We had people with head injuries that had very severe cognitive problems who were in an administrative morass and nightmare. They
were abandoned really for 4 months before anyone knew that they were there.
We had amputees who were a mile away from where they needed to be without prosthetics and were supposed to somehow find a way to walk to where their doctors' appointments were. The administrative breakdown was enormous, and it really reflected a culture of disregard.
One of the things that came out as we started investigating this situation out at Walter Reed was that the breakdown of services was very predictable because there was a substantial reduction in the number of personnel that were needed to provide the services.
Step one, you know that if you are having significant increased military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, you have to anticipate you will have an increasing need for services to treat injured soldiers.
Two, in response to that, the government, the Bush administration, following its ideological hard line about privatization, put to bid certain services that were being offered at Walter Reed. It turned out that the government workers who were government workers had an opportunity to bid on that. They had the lowest bid. Mysteriously, and we still haven't gotten to the bottom of this, Madam Speaker, their bid was adjusted upward $7 million, not by them, but by the reviewer of bids. They then came
in second, and the contract was awarded to a private company, IAP Worldwide Services.
Now, we don't know what the bottom-line connection is. What we do know is the following: Number one, what had been personnel of 300 went to 50. Now, it is cheaper to have 50 people on the payroll than it is to have 300, but you also don't get the job done, especially when the number of wounded soldiers is increasing. So that is shocking right away.
Number two, this company, IAP, had all kinds of problems, even though it received millions and millions of dollars doing Katrina relief.
Number three, the head of the IAP Company is a former very high executive in Halliburton, a company that I just have to say has ripped off the American taxpayer and made billions of dollars on this war in Iraq.
Now, how is it that there is a disposition that is so powerful that you put privatization and ideology ahead of a bottom line, the nonnegotiable bottom line that you are going to provide the services that our men and women in the service returning from Afghanistan, returning from Iraq need? It is absolutely and completely unacceptable. That shouldn't be a bipartisan thing. We ought to be doing whatever it takes to make certain that our men and women do get the services that they need.
Lack of accountability makes people lax. They are not looking over their shoulder knowing that somebody is going to be checking to find out if they are getting the job done, if they are ripping off taxpayers, if they are performing up to standards.
That is a major responsibility. We are candid with one another. We know that people are pretty fed up with government. The reason, there are a lot of reasons for it, but one of them is they don't have confidence that we are taking care of their taxpayer dollars. That gets so embedded in people's sense that they lose faith that the government will be there when there is a Katrina, when our soldiers are coming home from Iraq. Our job, together, is to restore that confidence by performance, not
by talk; by accountability.
Mr. PERLMUTTER. I think I was elected to bring change to this Nation, a new direction to the Nation and positive things to this Nation, whether it is energy independence or assist with a whole variety of things concerning change in the direction in Iraq. I did not come looking to go on a witch hunt and to continue to do that.
The people obviously wanted checks and balances. They wanted oversight and accountability. Something like Walter Reed or something like we have just had with the Justice Department, those are things that just appeared now. These are not us going back and trying to dredge up old issues. These are things that have happened because of the neglect of the administration. These are things that appear, and we need to deal with them now.
I think the question is judgment. Before there wasn't good judgment. There wasn't oversight. There wasn't accountability. There weren't checks and balances. The people expect this from its Congress and from its Senate with respect to the White House.
Walter Reed is a shame. It is a shame. It is supposed to be one of our finest medical institutions anywhere in America or the world. It is there for our bravest men and women who have served us valiantly and have been harmed and hurt in a variety of ways, psychologically, physically, and we need to make sure that a place like [Page: H2942]
Walter Reed really does provide the care and the service and the best quality of medical services that we can provide, and not
what has occurred.
The Congress today is something that gives Americans a chance for accountability, gives us a chance to deal with this administration on a straight-up basis, and the fact we are here, we are going to see improvements, just the fact that we are here, because it isn't just a rubber stamp anymore. There really is oversight.
Mr. ELLISON. Madam Speaker, let me say in these final few moments tonight, I want to say there have been over 91 hearings on Iraq alone. But we have also had oversight hearings on Hurricane Katrina. Several of them, in fact. Subcommittee Chair Waters went down to New Orleans to get the real story from people who are living it.
On the Committee on Financial Services, we are going to be talking about predatory lending. Today we talked about executive pay and shining some light on that issue.
On the Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee Chairman Nadler held a hearing on civil rights enforcement, what is the Attorney General's civil rights division doing in the area of civil rights enforcement.
I have participated in hearings on the increase in immigration fees and how those fees are going up in a precipitous manner and questions were asked and officials were made to answer.
So as I said before, this is a time of accountability. We are slowly trying to restore the public's faith in government. They have a right to believe that their government is honest, fair dealing, accountable and transparent. I couldn't have been prouder in the committee hearings I personally have been a part of on issues from the National Security Letters and the FBI executive pay, civil rights enforcement, immigration; there has been a whole range.
I think the story is not necessarily one thing like the Valerie Plame incident or Walter Reed or the U.S. Attorneys; but there is a prevailing, systematic reexamination of how government does business. I am proud to be associated with it.
Mr. HODES. Thank you, Mr. Klein. It has been a pleasure to be with you here tonight and have this conversation with the people of this country about what oversight and accountability brings to government.
I started my remarks this evening with a quotation from former President Woodrow Wilson. And I want to go back further in time to end my remarks with a quote from John Stuart Mill who said: ``The proper office of a representative assembly is to watch and control the government, to throw the light of publicity of its acts, to compel a full exposition and justification of all of them which anyone considers questionable.''
And it is that light of publicity, the light that we shine with accountability that helps preserve this government and leads to an open and transparent government. I am privileged to serve on the Information Subcommittee of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee. One of the things that we did which is essential in terms of the accountability of government, we brought to the floor and passed in this Congress in a bipartisan way much-needed reforms to the Freedom of Information Act. It is
an act which every citizen can take advantage of to gain information about the government, to hold the government accountable, find documents and information that is the citizens' right to have.
What we did was we restored the Freedom of Information Act to its rightful place where there is now once again a presumption in this government that the government should be open and disclose to its citizens what is going on, what it has for information and documents unless those documents fit into certain narrow exemptions. This has been a critical thing that we have done in this Congress.
I am proud to be a new Member and working hard for accountability. And when the American people see that they truly have an accountability Congress working for them to eliminate waste, fraud, abuse and corruption, to save taxpayer money, they will once again regain trust in their elected officials and in the people's House.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. I thank you, Mr. Hodes, for being part of our freshman class and our working group that is going to be here every week. The 110th Congress is strengthening oversight, and the proof is in the pudding.
People can say, I have lost confidence in Congress, but look at what we are doing. We have had dozens of hearings in the Foreign Affairs Committee just on the ability of working with our diplomatic efforts and all of the strategies in dealing with Iraq on the nonmilitary side. In the past, there have not been enough opportunities to do that.
We've had hearings on the veterans health care crisis and Walter Reed, the politicalization of the Justice Department and how wrong that is and that needs to be cleaned up, the Hurricane Katrina response and the things we are doing right now, passing legislation to truly get people back up on their feet. Global warming and energy independence was mentioned, and the fact is that we are getting down to the things we need to do as Americans to deal with our energy needs and the fact that there is
an environmental impact. And, of course, upcoming hearings of oversight on everything from Valerie Plame to oil and gas royalties and National Guard and intelligence.
This is part of the mandate of the last election. I look forward to working with our freshman class. We will be doing this every week. We certainly want input from our constituents back home. Tell us what you think we can be doing. We look forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats to build on this theme of accountability and oversight.
Ms. FOXX. Madam Speaker, I want to talk about two issues tonight. I am going to start out by talking about the Democrat budget and the tax increases that they are proposing, and I want to talk a little bit about the emergency supplemental. The two are tied together in many ways in terms of the hypocrisy we are seeing come forth from the Democratic leadership.
The House Budget Committee is in the midst of marking up the fiscal year 2008 budget resolution. As it currently stands, the proposed budget assumes the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which have given us this vibrant economy that we have. It is going to create, therefore, a $392.5 billion tax increase, the largest tax increase in American history.
It proposes no changes to slow the exploding growth of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that would result in deficit reduction.
Those 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, as I have said, have helped create a very vibrant economy. They produced real tax decreases in the tax burden on North Carolina's married couples, single parents and families. Almost every taxpayer in North Carolina, low income, single, married or self-employed would lose valuable tax cuts under the assumption in the Democrat budget proposal.
It is not a real surprise, though. We knew this was going to happen. It is business as usual for the Democrats and proves that their promises to be fiscally responsible are just empty rhetoric. I have said before this is a smoke-and-mirrors Congress, and that is exactly what it is.
It would return us to the Democrats' beloved tax-and-spend model for government. They have willfully abandoned their pledge for fiscal responsibility. They pledged to do PAYGO budget rules and spending restrain to curb the deficit, and they have done none of that.
Last year, Republicans rejected $14 billion in nonemergency spending that the Senate tried to attach to the emergency troop funding bill, but the Democrats are doing just the opposite.
Now I want to talk about the supplemental. The emergency supplemental, the Democrats said they would never try to coerce people into voting for legislation they didn't want to vote for. Last week they said they weren't whipping this bill, they were just trying to talk people into voting for it. Well, if this is gentle persuasion, I would hate [Page: H2943]
to see what whipping a bill is. The Members on the Democrats are being threatened and coerced into voting for
this. Their votes are being bought with millions and millions of dollars of pork barrel spending that has been put in the supplemental. It is really a slam against our troops.
The proper role of the Federal Government is the defense of this Nation. We may not be completely happy with every way the dollar is being spent on defense, but if that is the case, then what we need to do is have true accountability. Using the word ``accountability'' doesn't make it so. We heard our colleagues here talking about that. If we wanted true accountability, we would be holding the kinds of hearings that would give us accountability. Instead, we have ``gotcha'' kinds of hearing. Every
hearing here now is a gotcha kind of hearing.
Don't take my word for the fact that this is a terrible bill that they are bringing up, what they are calling the emergency supplemental. The Los Angeles Times called for the bill to be vetoed. It said: ``It is absurd for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to try to micromanage the conflict and the evolution of Iraqi society with arbitrary timetables and benchmarks.''
So in addition to the wasteful spending that is going into the emergency supplemental, we are hearing from even the liberal press that this bill does not deserve to pass.
They are using our troops as bargaining chips. The Politico said: ``Democrat leaders see this emerging strategy as a way to encourage their liberal members to vote for the supplemental budget bill.''
They have willfully abandoned their pledge of fiscal responsibility, and we should not be allowing our troops to be used as a pawn in the hands of the Democrats to get funded programs they want to fund that they take off the budget because it is in the emergency supplemental. It is not a part of pay-as-you-go.
Even the Democrat leaders concede that their own bill is flawed. Democrat whip James Clyburn has described his party's proposal as a ``bitter pill to swallow,'' again in the Politico.
We should reject this bill. I believe we will reject this bill. We need to support our troops. We need to give them the reinforcements they deserve. We need to win this war on terror. The Democrats never talk about winning; they only talk about losing. That is not the American way. The American way is to take the challenges presented to us, face them squarely, and win and do the things that are right.
Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Speaker, as always, it is a privilege and an honor to be recognized to speak on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. I bit my tongue over the last hour and listened attentively to some of the dialogue that was taking place. It is important, I believe, to correct the record at least on the portion I was paying attention.
The issue that was being discussed by the six or seven on the other side of the aisle was about the eight U.S. Attorneys who were fired by the President. There are great, huge, yawning gaps in the description that came out. For the benefit of the people listening to that portion of it, I will attempt to fill in the gaps.
One is the President dismissed eight U.S. Attorneys. That runs about 85 short that were fired summarily by President Clinton. Talk about a chilling effect on your ability to prosecute if you happened to have been looking into Whitewater or if you happened to have been the prosecutor of Dan Rostenkowski and you found yourself immediately fired, and then subsequent to that, your successor achieving a conviction in the case of Rostenkowski, and then watching President Clinton pardon the very subject
of your investigation, I would think that would be a chilling effect on a prosecutor.
But the allegation was made that ``the independence of our U.S. Attorneys is the hallmark of justice.'' Well, yes, I think that is true, but they serve at the pleasure of the President, and the President has the authority and he has the responsibility, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that those U.S. Attorneys are conducting their job, that they are actually prosecuting cases, locking people up in prison and not only taking them out of the crime job market, but also providing an example that keeps other
people from committing crimes. When those prosecutions are not taking place at the pace they need to, if they are failing to distinguish themselves, then it is the responsibility and the duty of the President and subsequently the Attorney General to direct that they be removed.
The allegation that the firing of U.S. Attorneys for political purposes was a statement made by the gentleman from New Hampshire. Political purposes. There is no evidence that has been submitted on either side of the aisle that says they were fired for political purposes. There has been speculation, but that is an allegation that I think is a heavy allegation and it is an unjust allegation, and the people who make those kinds of allegations have a responsibility to come forward with some shred
of evidence that they base their opinion on rather than wishful thinking.
This is no scandal, Mr. Speaker. It is not a scandal because it is eight U.S. attorneys. Eight U.S. attorneys, and there is not a partisan divide here that can be seen. It is not like there were eight Democrat U.S. attorneys that were investigating Republicans in office. There is no evidence of that. It is more like there were Republicans and Democrats who have been admonished in the past and challenged by Members of this Congress, at least in one particular case, for not being aggressive enough,
for not providing the kind of prosecutions necessary to enforce our borders.
Now, that is something that is essential to our national security, and if the allegations that are made here on the floor of this Congress and the statements that are made in committee and the witch hunt that is going on by submitting and requesting, subpoenaing the White House's closest advisers whom the President relies upon to be able to give him unfettered counsel, and they cannot be intimidated. Talk about intimidation, a subpoena to come before Congress and be questioned on the record about
your most private advice to the Commander in Chief of the United States of America is what is going on here.
This is an unjust, unbalanced overreach, and it is my advice to the new majority to start acting like the majority because you are going to have to take responsibility for governing. You have not shifted gears from demagoguery of the past into the responsibility to provide policy that is going to direct this country into the future. It is high time that that happened. Break the mold. Let us go forward with good policy, and remember, if you have the gavels, you have the responsibility to make
statements that are precisely correct, accurate all the way, truthful in every way possible, and move this country forward in the right direction and provide solutions, not just criticism.
I expect that subject will come up a little bit more, Mr. Speaker, within the next 53 minutes or so. Hopefully that will dispatch that subject for tonight.
But I would raise also there are two more issues before us tonight, Mr. Speaker, and one of them is hanging in the balance here in an unprecedented move, and that is the effort to provide a voting Delegate for the District of Columbia here in the United States Congress. It is an astonishing thing for me. It is an astonishing thing for me to be one of 435 Members of this House of Representatives who comes down to this floor every 2 years, and I bring my own Bible down here to make sure I am not
short a Bible because I want my oath to go before God and country, for God and country, and take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, so help me God. I add those words to my oath, and I have done so every time that I have been here to take that oath.
I believe that if there is a bill before this Congress, and as we analyze it constitutionally, if any of us come to the [Page: H2944]
conclusion that it is an unconstitutional piece of legislation, it is our responsibility or our duty, our obligation, our oath to uphold such unconstitutional legislation. We have taken an oath to do so. Vote ``no'' and clearly articulate the reasons why that bill is unconstitutional.
So Mr. Speaker, I have clearly articulated that before the Rules Committee, before the Rules debate here on the floor, and with the case of the bill on the floor, and I will seek to do that again for the edification of those that were not paying attention and still think that they can come around here tomorrow or next week or whenever it is that the majority gets the votes lined up and vote for an unconstitutional bill because they think it fits their politics. That is not what this oath is about,
and so this D.C. district sets this way.
The first unconstitutional provision is this. Article I, section 2 of the Constitution says that the Representatives shall be Representatives of the States chosen by the people of the States. So if D.C., the District of Columbia, is not a State, it is a clear constitutional provision that prohibits this Congress from bestowing a Member, a voting Member representing the District of Columbia into this Congress because the District of Columbia simply is not a State.
Now, there are a couple of ways to resolve this issue. One would be to adopt the District of Columbia as a State, in which case they would get a Representative for the House of Representatives and two Senators. If that could be done and this Congress could pass it and we adopt District of Columbia as a State, that would be a constitutional solution.
Another constitutional solution would be to simply to take the populated areas outside our Federal buildings, just a little bit outside the Mall, from the Potomac River all the way up here around to the east side of the Capitol, set that aside as the District, and the balance of the District then could be ceded back to Maryland. That then could be incorporated into the redistricting process, and the people that lived in the District would be able to vote for a Representative in Congress.
But the arguments made on the other side go something like this, Mr. Speaker, and that is, well, we think that it is a violation of the 14th amendment, a violation of the equal protection clause, for people to live in the District of Columbia and not have a vote, be able to elect a Member of Congress.
I would submit, if that is so compelling that one can ignore the Constitution's clear language, then, Mr. Speaker, it is equally compelling to demand two Senators for the same region, and some will acknowledge that that is the goal, and some will deny it.
But this Constitution has always been kind of an inconvenient thing, Mr. Speaker. What is inconvenient about it is it provides constraints, constraints for both sides, Democrats and Republicans, constraints for all of us who have a political reason or a policy need that does not consider the long-term best interests of the people of the United States.
This Constitution is the law of the land, Mr. Speaker, and I will submit that our Founding Fathers considered this when they established this constitutional Republic that we are in, and as they considered this, they looked at the democracies, the relatively pure democracies that they had in the Greek city-states 2,000 and 3,000 years ago, and they concluded that in the case of the pure democracy, the result was the same effect as if you had two wolves and a sheep taking a vote on what is for
dinner. The majority rules, and the sheep is dinner.
So are we going to get let those kind of whims wave back and forth across the floor of this Congress, Mr. Speaker, or are we going to adhere to a Constitution that we have sworn an oath to uphold? I will submit that what I am seeing is the two wolves are taking a vote on what is for dinner, and the sheep is the Constitution here, and the minority in the United States House of Representatives, and I have pledged to uphold this Constitution, I will stand in the way to the last breath of an unconstitutional
provision, no matter what it is.
But the arguments that were made here on the other side of the aisle primarily, Mr. Speaker, came down to this: That there are two very well-respected attorneys that have written opinions that will take the position that it is not unconstitutional for this Congress to ignore the Constitution and confer a voting right on a
Member from the District of Columbia. Yet, as I look at those two names, they are high and stellar names, Mr. Ken Starr and Mr. Viet Dinh. I have worked to some degree with both of them and read their opinions, and I recognize that when one goes off to law school, one of the first things they teach you, Mr. Speaker, is argue this side of the case, now argue this side of the case, take the position on the right side, take the position on the left side.
There are two reasons for being able to argue both sides of every issue, Mr. Speaker, and one of them is so if you are hired to argue one side, you are prepared to do so; you are not stuck in an individual ideology. The other one is, if you want to survive in the attorney business, you can provide for billable hours because you are a lot more flexible to be able to go on either side of an issue.
Well, I do not allege that these legal opinions that have been produced by Mr. Starr and Mr. Viet Dinh do not have a basis. They do. I just submit that it is a weak basis, Mr. Speaker, and as I read through that, there is the foundation of the Tidewater case. Their argument there is that because a court found in favor of allowing the people in the District to have the Federal court protection and conferred that kind of utilization of the court on the residents here in the District of Columbia,
that that implies that they are citizens of a State. Well, that is an utterly weak analysis, Mr. Speaker.
Then the second argument, and that seemed to be even an argument that they hung their hat on even more, was the argument that, and believe me, the Framers understood there was going to be a District of Columbia. When this Constitution was ratified, they knew that. They defined it within the Constitution itself in Article I, but what they provided for was for the 10-mile-by-10-mile section that was laid out to become the District of Columbia for a period of time, that was from 1791 until 1801,
that roughly 10-year period of time, until the Federal jurisdiction was applied here in this District, they allowed the people that before that time had been residents of Virginia to vote as residents of Virginia, and they allowed the people that had been residents of Maryland to continue voting as residents of Maryland.
So nothing changed for the people that were residents of the District for 10 years until the Federal jurisdiction was established, at which time then they did not have a Representative here in this Congress, and have not had all this time for this 200-plus years.
Well, the argument that was made by the two stellar legal scholars was because Congress allowed the people that lived here in this District to vote as residents of Maryland or Virginia, as the case may be, for 10 years, somehow that established a precedent or a constitutional right to have a Representative in the United States Congress, an utterly weak argument, and a precedent it was not.
Mr. Dinh admitted what the analysis comes down to, because there was an agreement between the House and the Senate, and the President signed the bill and let them vote conditionally for a 10-year period of time, that it was no precedent like you would get if the Supreme Court had made a decision. The only decision was no one disagreed with, so there was no constitutional argument to be resolved. In fact, no constitutional precedent was established either.
We go forward, and now equal protection under the law, Utah, to give a resident or a Member at-large so that if you are a resident of Utah, you can go and vote for your Representative in your district and the Representative that would be the Representative at-large in Utah. In fact, if you are a Member or a candidate, you could vote for yourself and somebody else to come here and do the same job. That is not equal protection under the law.
There was a case in 1961 called Baker v. Carr that tied this down to as close to an individual population balance as you could possibly get. That was the beginning of one man, one vote. There was a subsequent case in 1964 that speaks to it as well, but Utah also blows this Constitution sideways. [Page: H2945]
There are many reasons to vote ``no'' on this, and the difficulty that the majority has, and now unprecedentedly pulling a bill down as it was to go up for final passage and refused to allow a vote after days of building up to this with no explanation is unprecedented in this Congress, and that violates, I believe, the right of the people to be heard and the right of their judgment to be recorded here in a recorded vote on whether the District of Columbia will have an unconstitutional Member
in this Congress or whether they will not, Mr. Speaker.
So that kind of cleans up the air here and gets us to this point where we are at the subject matter we came here to talk about, and what I would like to do to kick that subject matter off would be to yield to the gentlewoman from Tennessee, the tenacious Marsha Blackburn.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Iowa so much, and I thank him for hosting our Republican Study Committee hour this evening so that we can come here and talk a little bit about what those of us in the Republican Study Committee are doing, and certainly how we feel about the supplemental budget that is before us, a vote that we will take tomorrow. I appreciate the context that Mr. King has brought to our debate tonight.
It is so very interesting to listen to our colleagues across the aisle. They talk about how they are going to change things, and when we talk, Mr. Speaker, about the change the American people wanted to see in November, they were not talking about subpoenas and hearings and vilifying people. The Democrats said that was not what they were going to do, and we know there are many who would like to make the President responsible for every single thing that has gone wrong.
We understand that, and we accept that, but it is unfortunate that when they come down here and they talk about honesty and accountability and trustworthiness and oversight and responsibility, their actions do not match their words. Their actions do not match their words at all.
What we continue to see in the supplemental budget, in the D.C. voting bill that they pulled from the floor today, and the budget that they will bring before us next week are a lot of accounting gimmicks, trying to move spending off line, hiding dollars, budget manipulation and deception. My goodness, this does not match up to what we hear from their rhetoric at all.
We know that there was all this talk about trying to be certain that we kept the spending low, and, Mr. Speaker, it took our colleagues across the aisle, as they took the majority, it took them 2 days to increase spending and 2 weeks to increase taxes on the American taxpayer, on the middle-class families working so hard to make ends meet, 2 days to increase spending.
They have spent well over an additional $50 billion so far. Two weeks to increase taxes, and as this budget that the Democrats are working on comes to the floor next week, they are going to invoke the largest tax increase in U.S. history, $400 billion over 5 years. That does bring us to the point of talking about the supplemental, and that is before us. Because as we hear all of this rhetoric, what we see is a budget, a supplemental bill that is to be there for our troops.
We all know that there is a lot that our troops need. When it comes to meeting their needs, when it comes to meeting their readiness, there is a lot they need. One of the reasons for that, when you go in and you look at the decade of the 1990s, budget after budget after budget, the military was cut. Funding to the military was cut. Funding to veterans, funding to veterans health care, funding to programs for the military retirees, funding for the active duty, funding for equipment, funding for
artillery, funding for research and development, cut, cut, cut, cut, cut, year after year after year. The Democrats chose to cut that.
Bill Clinton chose to cut that because they had other priorities. They were do the dot-com boom. They were into issues that were other domestic issues, but the Nation's security was not a priority. Certainly, even the current Speaker of the House was quoted in last year's campaign as saying national security shouldn't be a campaign issue.
There is nothing more important than the security of our families in this Nation. There is not one thing more important.
I have so many places I could go to talk about what has happened to this budget, to this supplemental bill that is before us tomorrow. It is to be the emergency spending bill for the war on terror, for our issues in Iraq. USA Today even had an editorial calling this a bad bill, because they don't see, and I agree with them, I agree with USA Today on this, they don't see an additional $500 million for the Forest Service as an emergency spending. They don't see $283 million for the Milk Income
Loss Contract Program an emergency, or $120 million to compensate for the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the shrimp and fish industry, or $100 million for citrus assistance, or $74 million for peanut storage costs or $64.4 million for salmon fisheries or $54 million for asbestos mitigation, or $48 million in salaries and expenses for the Farm Service Agency, or $35 million for NASA risk mitigation or $25 million for spinach growers or $25 million for live stock.
Even USA Today doesn't see that as emergency spending. I agree with them, because it's not.
I bet that many Members of this House had a wonderful mother like my mom has always been. My mother was always very good at saying, when I was doing something that maybe wasn't appropriate, she would say not here, not now, this is not the place.
Well, as good as some of these programs may be, not here, not now, this is not the place. The men and women in the US military are worth more. They are worth more than the actions, the actions and the conduct that is being carried forward in this budget. It is the wrong place, and this is the wrong time to spend $21 billion on discretionary spending that the Democrat majority does not want to carry to the floor and debate. They want to hide it. They want to keep it out of sight. They don't want
anybody to know this. They just want to get the spending in there. Because, why? They want to circumvent their own PAYGO rules and their own budget rules. It is not the time; it is not the place.
Now, if the leadership of the Democrat Party is so into instant gratification that they cannot wait to take it to committee and go through the proper channels, then I think they need to have a reevaluation about what is important. I can tell you what is important to my constituents. It is knowing that when they put their head on the pillow at night, they are safe. It is knowing when they drop their children off at school, they are safe. It is knowing that when those children graduate from high
school and from college, they are going to have a brighter future. It is knowing that as they work hard to build a business, that they are going to have the opportunity to grow that business. It is knowing that when they retire, that they are going to be able to enjoy every single day of that retirement.
It is knowing that, yes, indeed, they are going to be accountable, they are going to support their government, and it is knowing that their government is going to be there to support the fundamental values, the underpinning of this Nation, and to support the men and women who put their lives on the line every single day to go and defend this country and defend their freedom.
You know what, if it were not for those men and women in uniform, if it were not for them doing their job, if it were not for the fact that they have done their job time and again during the course of this Nation's history, you and I would not be standing here tonight having this debate.
There is a price that is paid for freedom. Every penny we appropriate in an emergency bill deserves to be spent on the men and women wearing the uniform defending that freedom.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentlelady from Tennessee. Certainly I wish to associate myself with all of her remarks, and I appreciate the consistency and the persistence with which Mrs. Blackburn comes here to the floor and participates in committee in every way possible to move the right agenda here in America.
I reflect upon a thought that crossed my mine a week or so ago or maybe 2 [Page: H2946]
weeks ago in committee, as I was listening to the kind of argument and debate that was coming from the other side of the aisle, and the discussion was about people who have food anxiety. We established food stamps for people who were suffering from malnutrition, and then we extended those benefits to those that were hungry, and now the effort is to extend those benefits, not to
just those that, we can't make the argument that people don't know where their next meal is coming from any longer, so now the argument is made that people wonder where their second, third, fourth and fifth meal is coming from, and that is called food anxiety. Food insecurity is the more appropriate term they likely use, food insecurity.
It occurred to me, this Constitution, I waved it around a little earlier, provides some constitutional rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But as I read back through my history and recognize that FDR back in the 1930s made another speech, and it's called the Four Freedoms speech. Those four freedoms, as he defined them, are etched into stone down in FDR's monument. First is freedom of speech, the second is freedom of religion. Those are constitutional rights. Speech and religion
are one and two, third and fourth are freedom from want and freedom from fear.
Now, those aren't constitutional rights. They are extra-constitutional rights, as articulated by FDR. But they were used to advance an agenda that grew government more dramatically than ever before, and it eclipsed the vision of most Americans. But they are really not rights. They are not constitutional rights. It's a vision or an image to have freedom from want and freedom from fear. Now, I don't know how you ever get to that point where you are free from fear. I don't think that can be guaranteed.
But we have gone another step now with the food anxiety or the food insecurity part. Now we have gone from our real freedoms, freedom of speech and religion, all of our Bill of Rights, to freedom from want and freedom from fear as articulated by FDR. Now, because of food insecurity language, now the argument is we need to make sure that people are free from the fear of want, freedom from fear of want.
So you should never have to wonder about whether you could pay your rent. You should never have to wonder about where your next meal is coming from. You should never have to wonder if you are going to have a job or if you are going to get fired, because government can be all things to all people. Government can take this safety net and turn it into a hammock, and no one has any anxiety. Perhaps we could cure ulcers if we could just have enough Federal money to do that.
If we are free from fear of want, we will also be free of the ambition to provide for our future wants and needs. If that's the case, the productivity in America will go down dramatically, and we will watch this work ethic in our culture collapse. One of the things that drove me to work my entire life was fear of want and not knowing, necessarily, even where my next meal was coming from, not knowing if I was going to be in business the next week or next month, but knowing I was the one in charge,
I was the one in control. I had to not only work hard; I had to work smart.
That has given millions of Americans to succeed, freedom from fear of want, a new right in this new Pelosi administration. I offer that thought for edification and consideration.
But I also recognize that the gentleman who represents the vast majority of the State of Nebraska and some of those spaces out there are, indeed, vast, Mr. Smith. I appreciate your arrival in this Congress, the values that you bring here, and the principled stand that you take. Often there are many things that tie western Iowa to all of Nebraska, and particularly western Nebraska. I appreciate you being here on the floor.
Mr. KING of Iowa. If the gentleman would yield, and just inquire as you were working through that budget last night, what kind of message did you get from the majority party on how much support there was for the Department of Defense budget and how much support for military spending? We are having this debate here on the floor today and starting again tomorrow morning. Did you sense that there was a commitment to support our military financially, our troops, and their mission? [Page:
Mr. SMITH of Nebraska. I did not sense that commitment. It would be hard for me to speak or to speculate. And I am not here to beat up on those with whom I disagree. That is not my job.
I do believe, though, that this supplemental spending bill, and I don't want to take up all of your time, but I do want to touch briefly on the fact that this supplemental spending bill with the caveats that many would call micromanaging the war is the wrong thing to do. I don't think we want to give our enemy any hint of what our plans are. A date certain withdrawal is the wrong thing to do. Certainly that was not discussed, especially in the spending context that we have heard so much here
today about and well into the future.
There is a lot we can worry about in the past, but if we don't focus on the future, we are not doing our jobs. And as we look at protecting the freedom, I can't help but think how productive we could be with a more unified approach. And I believe that military generals are trained highly, and that we should entrust in their abilities the objective of doing what they need to do so that we can see success overseas. And I cannot say that enough, but I truly believe that turning a spending bill into
a bill to micromanage the war is the wrong thing to do.
Constitutionally the President is the Commander in Chief. No one else is the Commander in Chief. And the Commander in Chief makes the tough decisions. And we can again look at the past and perhaps learn from the past and apply those lessons to the future, which we must do and can do. And if we pay attention to really look at the information and the facts and the data, we can do the right thing, and that is availing the resources to our military, to those most highly trained, those closest to
the situation, and allow those folks to make the right decision.
I yield back, but I certainly appreciate this opportunity and would certainly encourage my friend from Iowa to continue his pursuits here, because I think it is helpful, and I hope to join again. Thank you.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentleman from Nebraska, a Mr. Smith who has come to Washington to stand up for middle-American values, and to hold the line on the spending in the Budget Committee, hold the line on the constitutional issues with the micromanagement that is coming out of here with this supplemental spending bill, this emergency supplemental spending bill.
And I will make no such pledge that it isn't my job to challenge the people with whom I disagree with. In fact, I believe it is my job to do that, and I intend to step up every time and draw those bright lines when I think it is imperative that those bright lines be drawn.
So here we are with this bill on the floor being debated several hours today, with 1 or 2 hours left in the debate for tomorrow. And maybe it will go to final passage, maybe the votes won't be there, maybe the vote will get pulled down just like D.C. voting was pulled down today. They take it all the way through the process, and, at the time it is supposed to go up on the board, realize, we lost the debate, so now we can't allow a vote. That is exactly what happened here in the House of Representatives
today. The people's voice wasn't heard.
We have got a little debate to go tomorrow. People are going to sleep on this tonight, and they are going to think about the President asking for $99 billion to provide for Afghanistan and Iraq, the surge in Iraq, the strategy that was part of the Iraq Study Group's recommendation, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's recommendation, and the effort to succeed in Iraq.
And it is interesting that the President has retooled our approach here. We have a new Secretary of Defense, Secretary Gates; we have a new Secretary, at least an Acting Secretary of the Army, Mr. Geren; and we have a new Commander at Walter Reed Hospital, we have a new Commander of CENTCOM. And this is a new plan, a new plan put together by the individual who wrote the book on counterterrorism and the most successful general that I believe that we have seen come out of the Iraq theater,
and that is General David Petraeus, I believe the most impressive military individual I have met in my time here, in fact in my life. And his strategy is part of the same strategy that the Iraq Study Group put out. And having written the book on counterterrorism and being endorsed without opposition for his confirmation for a fourth star by the United States Senate, and
within a week the United States Senate is back trying to jerk the rug out from underneath his plan, trying to oppose the surge in Iraq and trying to oppose the 21,500 extra troops that go in there. And now we are seeing a little wavering, a little quavering, and some people going a little wobbly because they are starting to see the positive signs in the effort in Baghdad.
Now, the situation there is kind of interesting, Mr. Speaker. Baghdad and 30 miles around outside of Baghdad is where 80 percent of the violence in Iraq is taking place. And it occurred to me, it was actually back in December, I was reflecting back upon the 101st Airborne 62 years earlier had been surrounded at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Bastogne, a city that had seven roads leading to it and
through it, was the centerpiece of the transportation link. It was the key to success or failure in the Battle of the Bulge, and maybe it was the key to victory or defeat for either side in World War II, at least in the European theater.
And so, as the 101st Airborne was surrounded at Bastogne, mercilessly being shelled by the Germans, and the Germans demanded the surrender of the 101st, General McCollum's response is famous, and it should echo throughout all of American history when he said in his response to the Germans, ``Nuts.'' We understood what that meant, being Americans. The Germans didn't. They had to go get their linguists to try to understand what it meant, and they still, I don't think, have figured out to this day.
Well, that was in one word, four letters, the American spirit of defiance, the American spirit of perseverance.
And there they were surrounded at Bastogne, hopelessly surrounded, and their response was, ``Nuts.'' We are hanging on and we are going to defend Bastogne. And shortly thereafter we had General Patton and the 3rd Army that came and relieved the 101st Airborne. They argue to this day that they didn't need the help of the 3rd Army, that they had the Germans right where they wanted them.
That was the American spirit 62 years ago, Mr. Speaker, and today 80 percent of the violence is within Baghdad or 30 miles from Baghdad. Baghdad is essentially surrounded; it is not a stronghold. We have always gone wherever we wanted to go in Baghdad, or any other city in Iraq for that matter, even though the press calls it a stronghold. We went wherever we wanted to go, and we go more now than we did before. Baghdad is significantly pacified, but Baghdad was surrounded by peace, a relative
peace at least, and the violence was in there.
Now, if we had pulled out, or if sometime in the future this side of the aisle is successful in shutting off the resources so that our military can't succeed in their mission, and we pull out of there, I believe history will judge us nuts if we do such a thing, Mr. Speaker.
There is too much at stake. There is no discussion on this side of the aisle here about the consequences for pulling out. No one has a plan for victory. No one over there will utter the ``V'' word, the victory word. No one will define it. They are just a group of ``defeatocrats'' that can't get it out of their head that America's destiny is worth more than marking political points against your opposition.
So we sit here with more than 3,000 lives sacrificed for the freedom of the Iraqi people and the destiny of the world, because if we don't defeat this enemy here in Iraq, as Prime Minister Maliki said right here behind where I am standing right now, he said, ``If the terrorists can't be defeated in Iraq, they can't be defeated anywhere.''
Now, if Mr. Murtha gets his way and troops are deployed out of Iraq, the bill doesn't say where, but he has said where: Okinawa. Okinawa. Over the horizon is Okinawa, and we can put our troops over there, and then we can fly them wherever we need them whenever we need them. I would say we might as well take them right to Afghanistan. And I am going to explain the reason for that, Mr. Speaker. [Page: H2948]
First, this is a poster of Muqtada al-Sadr. He is quite an interesting character. He started out in this conflict as a militia general, and he wasn't doing very well down south of Baghdad a couple of years ago when he suffered huge, huge casualties in the Madhi militia. In fact, the casualties were so heavy that he decided to become a politician instead of a general, and so he entered into and built a little coalition and picked up 30 seats in the Iraqi Parliament. He also took over the security
on the civilian side of Baghdad International Airport, along with one portion of the Shia region of Baghdad and some of the area to the south. Muqtada al-Sadr, not a friend of the United States, an individual who has empowered himself by attacking the United States and denigrating the United States and inspiring his followers the same way, and this is how he did it.
And I was sitting in Kuwait City, the date is right here, June 11, 2004, waiting to go into Iraq the next day, and I was watching al-Jazeera TV, Mr. Speaker. Now, Muqtada al-Sadr came on, this burly face, and he was speaking in Arabic, so I was looking at the crawler underneath in English, and it read just like this: ``If we keep attacking Americans, they will leave Iraq the same way they left Vietnam, the same way they left Lebanon, the same way they left Mogadishu.'' That was Muqtada al-Sadr,
June 11, 2004. Al-Jazeera TV. I attest to that; I was there, I wrote it down; I saw it; I heard it. And that is the statement that he made.
Now, I went back and picked up the book written by General Vo Nguen Giap, and it is, ``How We Won the War.'' And he is writing about the Vietnam war, how they won the war. And very early in the book he takes the position that because the United States did not win a clear victory in Korea, they understood that we would maybe not have the will to win a clear victory in Vietnam. So their strategy from the beginning was to fight the war in such a way that it would break down and defeat American public
opinion and encourage the antiwar activists all across this country and around the world. That was a part of their calculated strategy that is in the book, ``How We Won the War'' by General Giap.
Now, it hadn't occurred to me that because we settled for a truce at the 38th parallel in Korea at the place, the same line as the beginning of the war was the end of the war. But because we didn't push the Communists all the way out of North Korea and draw a new line, they believe that we could be defeated because we didn't demonstrate the will to succeed.
Carl Von Clausewitz wrote the treatise on war, and the name of the book is, ``On War.'' And he states in there, ``The object of war is to destroy the enemy's will and ability to conduct war.'' To destroy the enemy's will and ability, Mr. Speaker. And I believe Clausewitz lists will ahead of ability because it is more important here. Your will to succeed, your will to prevail is more important than your ability to conduct war.
In other words, if you are fighting an enemy, and you destroy their airplanes and their navy and their tanks and their guns and their ammunition, and they still have the will to fight you, they will come at you with IEDs or rocks or fists or boots or clubs, because they still have the will to take you on.
But here in this Congress, there have been dozens, there are scores, there, in fact, may be more than 100, there may be more than 200 that don't understand that when they stand here on this floor and they speak against our military's mission, they are encouraging people like Muqtada al-Sadr when he is inspiring his people by saying, ``All we have to do is keep attacking Americans, and they will pull out of Iraq the same way they did Vietnam, Lebanon and Mogadishu.''
And if we should do that, Mr. Speaker, I can show you the next poster you will see on this floor, the next quote that will show up in the news media.
This is another notorious individual: Osama bin Laden. Where is he? We are looking diligently for him. One day we will find him.
But the lesson from Muktadr al-Sadr, the lesson that needs to be understood by the Defeatocrats is that if we pull out of Iraq, we don't win there. You have al Qaeda taking over. You have Iran coming in and taking over 70 to 80 percent of the Iraqi oil. You have Iran with their hand on the valve that could shut off at the Straits of Hormuz, 42.6 percent of the world's export oil. Doing so let's them control the world economy, including that of the United States, including that of China, empowering
Russia, empowering Iran, intimidating and controlling the entire Middle Eastern oil supply by Ahmadinejad. That is what is in store for us if we don't prevail.
And so Maktadr al-Sadr has laid it out, and he has got a clear vision. His vision isn't hard to figure out. General Giap has figured it out, just from seeing that we would settle for a truce at the 38th Parallel, and we have got Maktadr al-Sadr seeing that and Vietnam and Lebanon and Mogadishu, and several others, by the way.
But if we pull out of Iraq, our troops aren't going to be deployed to over the horizon, Mr. Murtha, or over to Okinawa, Mr. Murtha. They may get to go home for a little while and polish their boots, but they are going to Afghanistan, because that is the next stop for these terrorists that are going to keep coming at us until we defeat them or capitulate.
And so this will be the next quote you will see if we pull out of Iraq. It will be Osama bin Laden this time, and he will be saying, if we keep attacking Americans they will leave Afghanistan the same way they left Vietnam, the same way they left Lebanon, the same way they left Mogadishu, the same way they left Iraq. That is what is in front of us if we don't have the will to prevail, Mr. Speaker.
And these kinds of unconstitutional supplemental or emergency spending bills that tie so many strings on to the hands of the Commander in Chief, that if he adheres to the language that is in here, ties his hands so he can't win.
Now, why would you not be for victory? Why would you send money over there and not provide a way for the troops to win?
This bill pulls us out of Iraq. That is the goal and they have said so. Their goal is not victory. Their goal has been defeat for a long time so they can say I told you so. To put a stain on this administration perhaps. To try to gain political favor, perhaps. But whatever is their motivation, I will submit that this appropriations bill is unconstitutional because it is micromanagement of the duties of the Commander in Chief.
And so I will submit that this Constitution gives this Congress three responsibilities when it comes to war. The first one is to declare war. We haven't done that since World War II. The second one is constitutionally to raise and equip an Army and a Navy, and by implication an Air Force. The third one is to fund the war. That is it. No other constitutional responsibilities. Declare a war, raise a military, fund military. But the President is Commander in Chief because our founders lived through
the mistakes of trying to run a war with a whole series of micromanagers and trying to do so by consensus or majority rule within the Continental Congress.
The Continental Congress tried to micromanage the war that was fought by the Continental Army. And they were so stung by that painful effort, and the only thing that preserved them was they had the will for victory. They carried themselves through the hardest of times, barefoot at Valley Forge, because they were determined that they were going to defeat the British and establish a new nation. And that is the legacy that the founders have passed along to us. And they drew bright lines in this
Constitution because they understood you couldn't fight a war by committee. You couldn't fight a war if a Congress was going to micromanage the Commander in Chief. So they drew the line clearly, and there is no equivocation, and there is no historical record about
the founders wondering about who had what responsibility when it came to fighting a war. No. It was the Commander in Chief. And they gave Congress the authority, declare a war, raise the Army and the Navy, and then, I said by implication, the Air Force, and fund it.
So if you don't want to support our military, and if you don't want to support their mission, then you ought to have enough intestinal fortitude to [Page: H2949]
come down here with a bill that unfunds our military and face the wrath of the American people and the wrath of the United States military, who, by the way, are 100 percent volunteers, not just to join the military and put on the uniform, but for the mission that they are on.
Everyone there has had an opportunity to retire from the military in such time since the beginning of this conflict. Yet, Mr. Speaker, they step forward and they re-up and they volunteer in greater numbers than one ever anticipated. These are brave souls that are on a mission. And to say to them, after they have volunteered for one or two or three or more deployments, well, thanks a lot for the effort, but we are not going to let you finish the job, we are going to drag you home.
Well, I would say to that that I could quote a colonel that I went to Iraq with not that long ago, and he said, and I don't know if I will find it so I will speak from off the cuff and this will be close. It won't be probably an exact quote. He said, don't save me. I volunteered for this mission. Don't save me. I am here because I volunteered for my children. I am here to fight this war so my children don't have to fight this war. You are not doing me any favors if you try to pull me out of this
mission that I am committed to. And I have children at home that I am here to defend.
Now, I would say, also, that probably the most profound statement that I heard from a military person over there was a major from Kentucky. And he is a farmer, a father, loved his cows, worried about his bull, wanted to see the digital picture of his new bull, and loves God. And he said to me, he said, we have everything we need. So when you pray for us, meaning the military, pray for the American people. Pray they understand the threat, and pray they do not lose their resolve. We will not lose
That is the kind of personnel we have that put their lives on the line for the future of freedom in the world, for the safety of the American people so that we can ultimately prevail in this long, long war against these global terrorists who believe that their path to salvation is in killing us.
It is not going to be easy. It is not going to be over quickly. And, in fact, every time we step back and show weakness, it empowers the enemy and we are more likely to hear this statement sooner.
But this is not over if we pull out of Iraq, as General Pelosi and Mr. Murtha would like to do. It is not over. They will follow us here. And they will be more empowered. They will have a base that is protected that they can operate from out of Iraq. And you hand over that oil money to the Iranians, they will be spending it to buy missiles to deliver nuclear weapons, not just to Tel Aviv, not just to Western Europe, but within a few short years to the United States. And we will face
an enemy that is a lot tougher than the one we are facing right now.
We need to resolve this issue in the Middle East now. This is the time to do so. Put the cross hairs on Iran's nuclear and tell them cease fighting this proxy war against the United States within Iraq. Resolve and pacify Iraq, and turn our focus over to Afghanistan. Because if we don't do so, this man and his allies turn Iraq into a terrorist base camp, and they turn their effort to Afghanistan to try to drive us out of there and destroy the freedom that has been established there, where people
voted for the first time on that soil in all of history.
That is what we are faced with. This is a long war. We need to step up to it. We need to understand that. We need to let our voluntary military perform their mission and stand with them, because not only do we stand with our military, but we stand with them in their mission. I do so on this side of the aisle. I challenge everyone on that side of the aisle to do the same.
It is intellectually inconsistent to take a position that you can support the troops and not their mission. And it is constitutionally inconsistent, in fact unconstitutional, to micromanage a war from the floor of Congress and tie so many strings in there that they can't be met, so that it is certain that if this language passes and the President adheres to it that there will be an end to this sort of victory.
And I ask the President, Mr. Speaker, to stand on this constitutionally. He has the authority to do intra-departmental transfers. If the money goes to DOD and it is directed to an aircraft carrier and we need armored Humvees and Strykers and bulletproof vests, he can mothball that aircraft carrier and put the money where it is needed. That is why he is Commander in Chief. That is constitutional. This bill is not. And I urge that all Members stand up and vote ``no'' on this when it comes to the
Mr. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Speaker, it is an honor to come back before the House this evening. And I must say that tomorrow is going to be the judgment day as it relates to Members that are willing to lead on behalf of the men and women in uniform and those that have worn the uniform, and even making sure that we take care of some of the issues as it relates to homeland security.
Today there was a 3-hour, 4-hour-or-so debate on the emergency supplemental that is coming up tomorrow. And you know, part of the mission of the 30-Something Working Group is to come to the floor to make sure the Members have accurate information and to make sure that we provide good information, not only to the Members, but also to the American people. And having Members come to the floor that may represent one view or another is a part of our democracy, and I embrace it 110 percent.
I think it is also important for the Members to be able to receive up-to-date information and also talk a little bit about the past. And I think the past is something that we should embrace from time to time to allow the Members to be able to make a good assessment on how they should vote.
A couple of days ago, Mr. Speaker, I came to the floor and I recommended to some of the Members that it is important on both sides of the aisle that maybe some of us need to go see the wizard and find some courage and also find a heart when it comes down to standing up for the men and women in uniform.
And I talked a little bit about what is in this supplemental bill, emergency supplemental, which is over $125 billion and which will be, from what I understand, the last supplemental outside of the budget.
Now, when we talk about this emergency supplemental, this is for a war that we are going into the fifth year of. And I just want to say that again: a war that we are going into the fifth year of. It has lasted longer than any other conflict in U.S. history. And I just want to make sure the Members understand that.
We have heard statements on the floor. Members come to the floor, especially on the other side of the aisle, saying, well, we just need to give the troops what they need and then, you know, not have any oversight or any language in the bill that may bring about accountability.
Well, I voted for two past supplementals. I said that the other night. I will say it again. Some parts of that supplemental I did not like, but the last thing, the last thing that I wanted to do was to vote against the troops having what they need that are in harm's way. And I think that is important.
I don't know how I would have been able to go home to talk to my constituents and say that I voted against the supplemental because there was a part in it that I didn't agree with, while we have folks that are in a forward area, while we have men and women on the ground in Afghanistan, while we have men and women that are patrolling the streets of Baghdad now because the Commander in Chief sent them there to do so.
We want to support those men and women in harm's way and their families while they are here, and in this supplemental we are going to support them when they come back.
We are in the majority now. The Democrats are in the majority. But we have a minority spirit, to make sure that there is no Member in this House left behind because of a lack of information on what they are going to vote [Page: H2950]
on. And that is the reason why I am here.
I returned back to the Capitol tonight to talk a little bit about what is in this supplemental and what has happened in the past. Now, we had a number of Members on both sides of the aisle that talked a lot about what is not in this supplemental and what should be in this supplemental in the future. And I can tell you right now, it is far beyond what the President has called for as it relates to emergency dollars.
And when I see my friends on the other side, and I do say friends, I can tell you every Member that is in leadership now on the Republican side voted for a timeline for Bosnia. I mean, I just want to make sure that Members understand that, because there may be some Members who weren't here at that time, including myself, and it is important.
When we start to close out on this bill tomorrow, you are going to have Members of the Republican leadership that are going to come to this floor and call the Speaker of the House ``General'' what have you, call the majority leader ``General'' whatever they want to call him, call the whip ``General'' this, that, and the other. Meanwhile, here is the Congressional Record where they voted for the very same thing when President Clinton was in office.
Bosnia didn't have half of the conflict that Iraq has now. Not even a quarter of the money that has been spent in Iraq was spent in Bosnia. I am a member of the Armed Services Committee. There is a difference when you come to the floor and speak a cappella and when you come to the floor with the Congressional Record.
Let us talk about what the Congressional Record says because I want to make sure that Members understand. And if that was all about politics, I would be home right now doing whatever, reading a book or spending some time with the family right now, because if it was about politics, I would say I want the Republican minority to vote ``no.'' I want them to vote ``no'' so that they have to go home and tell their constituents that they voted against increasing veterans' health care
funding, they voted against making sure that out of the 100 Stryker Brigades that we have in the Army, that they voted to make sure that some bureaucrat from the Department of Defense can waive their own rules and not make sure that those men and women have what they need to go to battle.
And in every Stryker Brigade and every Stryker unit, you have to have a driver, a gunner. You have to have three individuals in that vehicle. And it is very, very important that everyone understands that we have to give our men and women what they deserve when they go into harm's way.
Let me just talk about the Congressional Record here. June 24, 1997, House Republicans brought to the floor an amendment that would set a timeline, a date certain, to withdraw from the U.S. peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, a mission that was only 18 months old. Mr. Speaker, I said this mission now in Iraq is in its 5th year. That was 18 months old.
Now, if my colleagues on the other side want to call someone General, Colonel, four-star, Secretary of Defense, whatever they want to call them, we are, as Members of Congress, to make sure that we carry out the oversight of any action of the U.S. taxpayer dollar. They don't want to talk about the investment that U.S. taxpayers have made in this war. They don't want to talk about the sacrifice of the over 3,222-plus members of the Armed Forces that are not coming home again, Mr. Speaker. They
don't want to talk about the 10,000-plus members who were injured in Iraq that cannot return back to battle because of their injury. The Republicans do not want to talk about the casualties of this war as it relates to families that will no longer have their loved one back home, and they don't want to talk about the accountability that they did not put forth when they were
in charge of this U.S. House of Representatives to say, Department of Defense, if you have regulations saying that military personnel that are going into harm's way, that they have to have armor, that they have to have the support staff, that they have to have everything they need to go to battle; if you aren't willing to stand by that, then don't criticize what we are doing.
I hope that my Republican colleagues follow and come along and join us because this is national security. This is not an issue of partisanship, or I am a Republican and you are a Democrat. That should not be the issue.
Mr. Speaker, I have said personally I voted for the supplemental that the Republican majority put forth two times in a row, not saying, I am a Democrat and, because they are Republican, I am going to vote against it.
Yes, I want to see redeployment in this war, but I do not want to leave our men and women without what they need to be able to fight the battle. There won't be a lack of ammunition or a lack of food or a lack of support or a lack of backup when there is a patrol out on the streets of Baghdad.
Do I support the President's surge? No, I do not. And I voted in the affirmative for the nonbinding resolution that came before this House that said that we do not support the surge that the President has put forth. Just because I disagree with the President doesn't mean that I need to disagree with the men and women in harm's way.
Now, some Members may have problems with this. They may not like a word over here or something that is said over there. But the bottom line is when you start looking at the morale of the men and women in uniform, the worst message that we can send to them is that because of partisanship, because someone is a Republican or someone is a Democrat, that I am voting against it because my party leader said that I need to vote against it. I am here as an American, not as a Democrat here tonight, because
I think it is important that we think about those families that cringe to hear about another casualty in Iraq of a U.S. military personnel or a nonforeign personnel that is in Iraq. And by Members saying, I don't want to vote for that because there is certain language in there that I disagree with, I think it is not a good enough reason for Members to say that I am not going to vote for it.
We talked about a commander. We talked about a gunner. We talked about a driver in a Stryker force vehicle. We talked about 100 brigades that are out there now. I have been to Iraq twice. I don't need to come to the floor and say, I am a member of the Armed Services Committee and I have been to Afghanistan, and I have been to many of the other ``stans'' in the Middle East to understand what our men and women are facing in harm's way. I have been to military bases. I have met with military families
before. I don't need to come to the floor and talk about that. We have some Members saying, well, I love the troops.
Well, I love the troops more than you.
No, I have a tattoo saying that I love the troops more than you.
I believe we can come to the floor and talk tough and talk about what we believe in. But when it comes down to it, Mr. Speaker, Members are going to have to take out their voting card come tomorrow, and they are going to have to vote if they support the troops or not, period, dot. They can say, well, I support them, or what have you, go home, talk to the VFW and march in the Veterans Day parade and write letters back to their constituents that I support them 110 percent. The bottom line is that
there is nothing in this bill that the Democratic majority has put forth that has not already been recommended.
Think about the policy. Okay. Readiness. It comes from the Department of Defense regulations. Who can argue with that? Who can complain about that? Who can argue, saying we are micromanaging?
No, not micromanaging. We are just saying if you have rules and regulations that have been set forth for the men and women in uniform, follow them, period, dot.
Being a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have watched individuals sit at a table testifying before Congress in committee, saying that the troops have what they need, and, yes, they all have body armor, and, yes, they all have up-armed vehicles, and, yes, they have the jammers to stop the improvised explosive devices; and better yet, you go to Iraq and you talk to the men and women in uniform, and they say they don't have it. [Page: H2951]
So what should we do? Should we just say we trust the bureaucrats over at the Department of Defense because they say they have what they need? Or do we come to this Congress and put in a language of legislation that not may or if you get around to it, or if you think about it, that you make sure that you live by your own standards. No. We say ``shall'' in this bill. We say, yes, readiness is important. Yes, we say that what General Schoomaker has asked for as it relates to additional soldiers,
we said yes to it in this supplemental. You will be voting against readiness if you vote against the emergency supplemental.
The Commandant of the Marines asked for three new brigades. That is in this supplemental bill. If you vote against this supplemental, you are voting against the readiness of the U.S. Marines.
There are a number of issues that are in this bill that I think are important. But I think when you look at House amendment 302 by Representative Buyer, Republican from Indiana, and the timeline of December 15 of 1997, President Clinton was required to report to Congress on the political and military conditions in Bosnia and by a date certain, by June 30 of 1998, all troops to be withdrawn. Mr. Speaker, that actually came to the floor. And the Republican leadership that was here at that
time voted in the affirmative for the amendment. And so for Members to come here and start talking about it as though this is some new idea like ``never before.''
I heard that today. I was sitting in my office. I could not believe that Members on the Republican side of the aisle were saying never before, that this never happened, that we have micromanaged generals and commanders and all the men and women that are in uniform and from this Congress we have 135 generals. Here is the Congressional Record right here.
One guy once said, ``I am not talking about anybody. I am just talking about what I am talking about.'' And the bottom line is in the Congressional Record, just as clear as I am speaking now, 20 years, 200 years from now, someone can unearth what I have said here tonight. And we have unearthed, to my colleagues on the Republican side, what took place, and guess what? Only four Republicans voted ``no.'' Here is the voting record right here. I have it. Of all the Republican Members
that voted at that time, only four Republicans voted ``no'' when it came down to a timeline for Bosnia.
Now, this is not something that came from the Democratic National Committee or from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or from my office because it sounded good. This came out of the Congressional Record.
So I want to make sure that the Members know and their constituents know that when Members come to the floor and give inaccurate information to the American people and to Members of the House, it is a disservice. And I am not calling any names. I am just saying that here is the Congressional Record. For those Members who said never before in the history of the House of Representatives, you have got to know what you are saying before you say it, and if you said it, you should
come to the floor and correct yourself so that individuals are not misled.
This is 18 months in Bosnia, let alone going into a 5th year in Iraq. No matter how you feel about the war, whether you voted against it or voted for it, I am not going to editorialize or have an opinion on how you voted when you voted. We are talking about right now. We are talking about tomorrow, less than 12 hours from now, you are going to have an opportunity to say if you are with the troops or you are not with the troops. And it is not going to be a floor speech, and it is not going to
be a press release. It has to be if you vote ``yes'' or ``no'' tomorrow.
And I am speaking to every Member of the House. This is something that you have to live with. You cannot go to Iraq or Afghanistan or even write a letter or answer an e-mail from a troop if you found yourself in a situation where you said, no, I don't agree with what you are doing; that is fine, but to defund the mission while it is ongoing, our men and women that are in harm's way right now, is something that you are going to have to answer to your constituents. You don't have to answer to me,
you just have to answer to your constituents. And I think that it is something you should take into consideration. And one of the great reasons why we come to the floor is to make sure that the Members know exactly what they're voting for.
And, Mr. Speaker, if I can, and Members, if they will indulge me, I would just like to talk a little bit about what is in this bill, what is in the emergency supplemental, because I want to make sure that the Congressional Record reflects it when you have some voters that may go into the archives of what took place at this time right now. Mr. Speaker, I used to see all the time in 109th Congress where we had some rough, rocky water, in the 109th Congress.
We had Members that are no longer Members of this House, not by vote but by the fact they had to leave the Congress because of unethical behavior, not unethical, criminal behavior, and we never once called the names of those individuals. But we said we have to do away with the K Street Project and other projects like it, because once upon a time this House, when the other side was in control, you had to pay to play. Either you were on a list or you didn't get access to this House.
Now we have returned this House to the people of the United States of America. We are going to continue to move in that direction, and I think it is important that we make sure that every Member of the House has the opportunity to vote on good legislation.
We are going to consider H.R. 1591, which is the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act of 2007.
I am sorry, I was just corrected, not only four Republicans will vote against it, only two Republicans will vote against it. We are checking while we are on the floor. I want to make sure the Record reflects the accurate information.
I think it is important that Members understand the defense healthcare is $1.7 billion more than what the President has requested. I want to just outline that. The President put forth his recommendations which should be in this emergency supplemental. We have on top of that, as it relates to the Appropriations Committee, which I commend not only the chairman but the chairman of the subcommittee and the members of the Appropriations Committee giving us an opportunity to vote on $1.7 billion more
for healthcare, defense healthcare, above what the President has called for.
$450 million for posttraumatic stress, which is going to happen. This vote is going to come up tomorrow. That is very, very important. And counseling. We talk about families, you have to remember that there are men and women that have seen a lot, an awful lot, some things that we would never see. Members of this House, a few Members serve in the Reserves, some have served in the Guard, some have seen some of this. But the majority of Members of the Congress has not seen what these men and women
have seen or gone through what they have gone through, seeing someone in the mess hall one day and not seeing them the next day, and hearing about what took place with them, that happened to them.
Sniper fire, improvised explosive devices, we could never understand that. But they come home with those real issues, and we have a number of members of our armed services that have admitted that they have issues mentally that they need help with. Now, let's think about it. We are talking about men and women of the armed services that admitted they have issues. How many of those have not?
We talk about preparation for when our troops come home. It is not just when you are in harm's way that some Members may say well, you know, it is important we take care of them. No, when they get home, we need to be there for them. $450 million in traumatic brain injury care and research.
$730 million for prevention healthcare.
$20 million to address the problems at Walter Reed Hospital. I think it is important, and I think we have that chart here dealing with Walter Reed, that is so very, very important. The Washington Post broke the story saying that Walter Reed wasn't up to par. [Page: H2952]
Then you had U.S. News and World Report. We have a specialist here. We have troops, men and women in need, and I think it is important that you look at this Newsweek cover. If you have this at home,
take a look at it. It just came out March 5, 2007. I think it is important that everyone pays attention and focuses on this.
We have to make sure we are here for them. $14.8 million for burn care. For veterans care, $1.7 billion more than what the President requested.
I want to stop there to say we put I believe $3.7 billion in the continuing resolution. What do we mean when we say continuing resolution? We mean that the Republican Congress did not finish their work in passing all of their appropriations bills on time. The fact that they weren't able to do so, we were able to meet that shortfall.
Let me correct myself. $2.7 billion that was a shortfall for that. We were able to put $3.6 billion in January 31. The Democrats increased the veterans healthcare budget by $3.6 billion. And that was prior to the story coming out about Walter Reed. We had several amendments on the floor where we tried to increase veterans healthcare because we knew already there were issues in VA hospitals, VA clinics, our veterans getting what they need, leave alone the number of troops and soldiers and also
their families that we are going to put into the system of active and those that have left the military, the strain on it. That is when it comes down to planning, and that is already there.
But when you look at the $1.7 billion more than the President asked for, we are talking about $550 million to address the backlog of maintaining VA health care facilities that were intended to prevent veterans from experiencing a situation similar that they found at Walter Reed.
$250 million for medical administration to be able to bring on sufficient personnel to support the growing number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and to maintain the level of service at all VA facilities and for veterans.
$229 million for treatment for a growing number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
$100 million for contracting mental healthcare, with the funding to allow the VA to contract with private mental healthcare providers to ensure that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are seen in a timely manner. I think this is an important point.
We have veterans now, Members, that are waiting, not hours, not weeks, but months, and it is real really unfortunate they have to do so. I told the story about a friend of mine that was in a VA hospital that had my cellular number in his cell phone, and he called me and said, ``Kendrick, things are not going the way they are supposed to go. I am waiting to see a specialist, and I have been here for some time and I haven't seen one and I don't think I am going to see one.'' He was admitted.
Of course, my office called. We were in a truck moving around. My office called the administrator of the hospital, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure not only did he have the specialist, he had the head of the department of the area that he needed assistance in, and he got what he needed.
But, guess what? Every American, every American, every family member of a veteran, doesn't have the cell number of a Member of Congress. That shouldn't be the requirement for service, and that is why we are trying to respond to it.
It is also important, as I talk about readiness and support for our troops, $2.5 billion more to address the current readiness crisis that is the situation on stateside for our troops, including those that are better equipped and trained.
It is important that we make sure that our National Guard units are equipped. Mr. Murtha, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations, has said there is not a National Guard unit that is at a point of readiness right now, Mr. Speaker. They are not ready?
Why? Because half of their equipment is in Iraq. Why? Because the training has not been taking place because of the lack of funding to be able to allow them to be battle ready. I think it is a disservice for those who have volunteered to serve our country.
You have $1.4 billion more for military housing allowance, $311 million more to make sure that you have the mine resistant ambush protection, which we call MRAP, for the vehicles in Iraq at this time. Everything that the military has asked for to make sure that our men and women don't come back in a way that this specialist had to come back.
She didn't have a choice, Mr. Speaker. Members, by voting for this supplemental, you are going to give her and many other people like her an opportunity to know that we have done everything possible that we can do here in the Congress to avoid what has happened to so many of our men and women that are going in for treatment, physical therapy, to make sure that we can avoid misfortune from happening to them, even though they keep the spirit that we ask them to keep, and these are the most resilient
men and women in our society that are citizens.
I think it is important also to look, when I talked about the size of the military, $2.3 billion for the full cost of fielding an additional 36,000 Army troops and 9,000 Marines, and also $720 million as it relates to military construction costs. I think it is important that we look at this.
This is exactly what I was stating earlier. Members want to talk about readiness for voting against this bill? You are saying you are fine with the status quo. We don't know when the next conflict is going to take place. We don't know when. We asked the Army, why do you have soldiers rotating in in 120 days when they just served several months, almost a year, and beyond a year in Iraq?
We don't have the troops. That is what the Army is saying. The Marines are saying we are stretched thin. They are asking for help, and we are saying we are there to help them, and it is in this bill, and I think it is important that Members understand that.
I could not go to Iraq, which I am going to be going again for the third time, and look a marine, soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guard person, in the face and say that I am there for you if I voted against the supplemental.
Mr. Speaker, I go back to say that I voted for the Republican version of the supplemental. I believe we should have redeployment, but the last thing that I want to do as a Member of Congress, the last thing that I want to do is vote against our men and women having what they need when they are in harm's way. That is the last thing I want to do. There has to be a really rough day for me not to vote to support these troops.
I know that there are some Members that are going to do what they need to do, but I just want to make sure, especially for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, those conversations that I have had with many of my friends, they say, ``Our leadership tells us that we need to vote against it.'' In the Appropriations Committee, some of my good friends on the other side of the aisle, the leadership said that.
Well, what about what our troops are saying? What about what their families are saying? What about our responsibility as men and women of the U.S. Congress?
Of course, I am not a general. I am not even a sergeant. I am not even a specialist in the Army. But I have been elected and federalized by my constituents to come here and represent them and the United States of America and make sure that we carry out our responsibility as Members of Congress to have oversight.
It is not making decisions here in the Chamber. It is oversight. What is wrong with the Iraqi government having to meet benchmarks? Let's just put it this way, Members. How long have we been talking about, and I do mean talking, about the training of Iraqi troops to secure their own country? How long? I just want to know how long. We have been talking about it I know for at least 3 years, which this is a war in its fifth year.
For at least 3 years there has been a strong conversation about training Iraqi troops, taking over patrols. They have a brigade now taking over a city. We look the next couple of months, U.S. troops are riding side-by-side with Iraqi troops, and in some cases it is a U.S. patrol, because that is what we are down to. A coalition of the few. Great Britain has already said, you know, guess what, folks? We are out of here. We have done our mission. Saddam Hussein is gone, has gone on to [Page:
another place. His two sons are gone. And they know it is a civil war going on right now in Iraq and they know full well that the key to Iraq, using the Iraq Study Group, I must add, and also every other expert as it relates to Iraq, will not be solved militarily.
It will not be solved militarily. Diplomacy is going to play a big role. Unless we start to endorse diplomacy, and Members are coming to the floor and saying, by passing this bill, we are saying we are surrendering.
Let me go back to what President Bush said. He was asked during the last campaign when would there be a victory. Well, there won't be a victory.
What he meant by that by saying there will not be a time when someone will go and hand a flag over to the United States and say ``you won.'' That is not going to happen. That is not going to happen. So for Members thinking there is going to be some big conversation at Little Big Horn or whatever the case may be for those historians that are around, that is not going to happen.
If you are waiting for an insurgent to come up and say let's sign an agreement and say, let me borrow this pen. This pen is fine. I will sign right here to say we surrender to the great U.S. military. That is not going to happen, ladies and gentlemen, and every Member of Congress has to know that. So to say we are going to hang around officiating a U.S. war, and losing two to three troops on average to sniper fire and IEDs, just to say we are tough and we are going to keep riding until we can't
ride any more, we are moving into $525 billion-plus, with a B, in spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a worthy cause because they had everything to do with 9/11. Because of Iraq, the Taliban and al Qaeda still live in Afghanistan, and they are getting stronger because of the lack of oversight by this Congress and the White House saying we need to send more troops because we have the coalition of the few who are leaving Iraq. So we have to continue to send brigades and troops into Iraq. This supplemental is moving in a new direction. It is moving in the direction of oversight saying
that the President of the United States put benchmarks on the Iraqi Government, and in this bill it addresses that. If they don't meet those benchmarks, we start reversing our troops out. If we have an unwilling government in Iraq saying we can continue to do what we are doing because the Americans are going to be here, that is not so. The American people are far beyond several Members of Congress on this issue.
Democrats and Republicans and Independents know full well that the reaction in Iraq of saying we are going to continue to send military in and some bureaucrat over at the Department of Defense saying, well, regardless of the fact that they had enough downtime, we are going to send them anyway because we have to keep over 140,000 troops in harm's way, just in Iraq. In this bill it goes against that theory.
Now, Mr. Speaker, let me just clarify. Does it tie the hands of the administration? No, it doesn't. It says if it is within the national interest of national security, you have to come before Congress and justify stepping out of what we want to pass here in this House. It doesn't do anything to the President. It doesn't tie the hands of the military. It says if you are going to do something outside of the rules that you have already set, you have to come before Congress and let us know what you
are doing. What's wrong with that?
Newsweek, Time, and other periodicals that are weekly, and some daily, have asked, Is the President listening? What is the President thinking?
The American people are saying they want to do certain things as it relates to Iraq, but they don't want to be in the middle of a civil war.
The Department of Defense 2 weeks ago admitted there is a civil war in Iraq. They said that 2 weeks ago, and it has been going on for over a year. The media 6 months ago said we are now calling it a civil war. And the Department of Defense just came to grips with that.
I am going to tell you, there are four star generals that are friends of mine that know full well and have told me, Just between you and I, Congressman, we are in a civil war.
But the administration had to give the okay. So, you know, things are getting tough now, and you go ahead. You can say it, yeah.
That is the kind of DOD that we have right now. When I say DOD, the Department of Defense. This bill unearthed that kind of philosophy. We want the Department of Defense to be professionals. We want our three and four star generals and our people in harm's way to make the decisions and come before Congress and tell us the truth, not because someone in the White House or someone in the Department of Defense said if you tell it, there is going to be a price to pay.
Mr. Speaker, I have a list of generals that have paid that price that have said otherwise than what the Department of Defense wanted them to share.
One thing that is good, Secretary Rumsfeld is gone, and that is good. I am glad he is gone from the Department of Defense. I asked him politely, Maybe you
want to consider retiring after Abu Ghraib. When you have the kind of power over DOD, it smothers other ideas. This is not something in DOD. This was printed in newspapers. If you disagreed with the Secretary of Defense, you had a problem. We want to fight against that.
I want to talk about my colleagues on the other side. My good friend who used to be the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, he said he never felt stronger against what was going on as relates to the surge. They are going to have an opportunity to vote on the supplemental.
You had Senator Hagel who is also a Republican and I consider a good person. He said: ``I think the speech that was given last night,'' and this was after the President presented his plan for the surge, ``by the President represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam. If it is carried out, it will be resisted.'' That is Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony of 1-11-07. It goes on and on. Senator Snowe, Senator Collins, Senator
Coleman, Senator Smith, Senator Brownback, Senator Specter, Senator Bunning, and on and on and on. Senator Sununu.
So we can go on and on talking about the justification of third-party validators that are here. And then we have generals, Mr. Speaker, that have said otherwise against what this administration is proposing. The President has threatened to veto this supplemental. I wonder why. It is his words that he said here at that podium that the Iraqi Government has to be held accountable because we will not be there.
We used his words and put it on paper, put it into law. Here is the bill. It is on the Internet. Folks can read it. Every Member has a copy. There is no secret. It is not in some back room, it is not like, I have not seen the bill yet. H.R. 1591. You can read about all of the good things that are in here that are already Department of Defense regulations. That is what the President said when he made his surge speech and the accountability that is being placed on the Iraqi Government.
The Iraq Study Group, it is in here. Their recommendations are in here. It is nothing new. They were bipartisan, appointed by the President of the United States.
All we are saying is we are going to hold you to your word. What is wrong with that? Whatever happened to those good old days, if you say it, you are going to do it? What is wrong with that?
I don't know what the problem is, Members, but the only problem I can find with holding you to your word is probably politics, partisan politics. When we look at national security, there is no room for that.
Let's talk about some of these military leaders that have raised a concern about the escalation.
General Colin Powell, can't say enough about him, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former Secretary of State. That is some resume. ``I am not persuaded that another surge of troops in Baghdad for the purpose of suppressing this continued violence, this civil war will work.''
That is General Colin Powell. It is not Kendrick Meek. And he is a Republican. He is just being an American when he said this. I know General Powell, and he is a friend.
General Wesley Clark, retired, former Supreme Allied Commander of [Page: H2954]
Europe of NATO. This is a man who led us in Bosnia. He said troops surge and accountability will be seen as rhetoric. The bottom line of what he is saying is that the accountability of what we say that we want to be accountable for in Iraq as it relates to security is not going to see itself through.
General McCaffrey, who is retired, he said: ``It is a foolish idea. Our allies will leave us.''
Mr. Speaker, that is what has happened.
``Make no mistake about that, most will be gone by the summer.'' This is what he said. And sure enough, they are going to be gone by the summer.
These are our decorated members of the military that are saying this. So when Members come to the floor and start calling Members names and calling the Speaker names and calling the Speaker ``general'' and carrying on and trying to make a point and trying to sensationalize the obvious, it is not serving our troops well and it is not serving our country well.
Mr. Speaker, I am going to close with this: we have a responsibility as Americans and also as Members of the House to make sure that we follow through on what we said and told our constituents that we would do, that we would come as thinkers to this process and that we would represent them in the best way possible.
For the men and women that allow us to salute one flag, for those who have served in the past, we thank them and honor them. Let's honor them tomorrow when we come to this floor and vote for this emergency supplemental. We had a nonbinding resolution a couple of weeks ago that said we were against the escalation of troops in Iraq. This bill and this emergency supplemental is binding, and it has meat and teeth on it on behalf of those in harm's way, and even those that have served. In this bill
we are taking care of the needs of not only military but military families. We are providing homeland security with the necessary funding that they need. And so when you think about, when you pray about what you are going to do tomorrow, think about those that are counting on us to represent them.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the Speaker and majority leader for allowing me to come to the floor tonight. I want to thank the Members of the House for listening. It is always a true honor to address the House.