Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I would not want the gentleman from Wisconsin to think, since I don't have an opening statement, that I don't feel as passionately about this issue as he does. We just happen to disagree about how we support the troops, whether we make an effort to support them by providing adequate and flexible funding for the commanders, or have a mandatory withdrawal
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Weldon) a member of the committee, for 2 minutes.
Mr. WELDON of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I thought freedom was worth fighting for. I thought, when we saw all those Iraqis risk their lives to go and [Page: H2963]
vote and establish a government and establish a Constitution and to have, possibly, freedom of speech, that was something worth our level of effort. If you actually go over there and talk to those people, you find out that it is a minority that is trying to break the will of this body. That is what is going
What I object to in this bill is the way you have brought this to the floor. You have got subsidies for spinach. You know, my constituents are asking, who put that in the bill, Popeye? Why don't you let us have a vote on whether or not we want to attach funding for peanut farmers and funding for spinach farmers to a war supplemental?
Yes, why don't we have a vote on the Murtha language? Why are you denying us an opportunity, this body, a Democratic institution, the ability to say collectively as a majority, we think this kind of language is what we want to have?
I don't deny the gentleman from Pennsylvania, as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Defense, to put forward his plan. Even though he is not the Commander in Chief, the way I read the Constitution, he can do that. But the way I also read the Constitution and the Federalist papers, we are supposed to have some kind of a vote, and you are just bringing this thing forward under a closed rule.
I personally think that is a disgrace, what is going on here. I am going to vote against this bill. I hope, as we move forward in this process, democracy, which the Iraqis are willing to risk their lives for, will someday be reinstituted in this body here.
Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, 4 years ago President Bush sent our troops to war without a plan for success in Iraq, and without a plan to care for our wounded soldiers returning home.
During those 4 years, the old Congress rubber-stamped the failed policies of the Bush administration. The American people know well that when you ignore failure and bad decisions, you simply get more of them.
Today, we are demanding accountability for a change, accountability to ensure that our troops get the training and equipment they need, accountability to ensure that our wounded soldiers returning home are treated with a dignity that they deserve. We hold the Iraqi government accountable for taking the steps toward political reconciliation which they, themselves, have said are necessary to achieve stability.
The accountability measures in this bill track the recommendations made by the independent bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Commission. The President chose to reject those recommendations and, instead, to escalate the war in Iraq.
At the same time, the President has not paid adequate attention to those who were responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001, al Qaeda, operating out of Afghanistan.
This bill provides additional resources for completing that mission and for holding those responsible who did attack us on September 11. Al Qaeda is still plotting against us. It demands accountability, it supports our troops, and it strengthens our national security.
Mr. Speaker, it is time for a change and direction in Iraq. It is time to bring some accountability to the history of failed decisions we have made so we don't continue to make the same bad decisions going forward. The American people asked for and deserve a change in direction. That is what this bill does.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, it is my honor to yield time to my Speaker, the gentleman from Illinois, DENNIS HASTERT, 3 minutes.
Mr. HASTERT. I thank the chairman, and I rise today in strong opposition to 1591.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to say to my friend from Wisconsin, I have a great deal of respect for the fights that he has fought on this floor for over 30 years, but we do disagree.
Supplemental spendings are intended to provide additional funding for programs and activities that are too urgent and pressing to wait for the regular appropriations process. To be clear, only emergency funds should be included in this supplemental. Period. So if Democrats are looking for an avenue to send money back to their districts, they should look to regular order.
Last year when the Senate tried to include over $14 billion in nonemergency funds in the supplemental, House Republicans demanded a clean bill. And when the House sat down with the other body to negotiate a final bill, we accepted nothing less than a supplemental free of unrelated and nonemergency funding.
Why did we do that? Because we wanted to pledge the faithful support of this Congress to the members of the armed services serving in harm's way. This legislation should remain focused on the needs of the troops and not become a vehicle for extraneous spending and policy proposals.
In yet another show of a different way, the same Members who screamed for a straight up or down vote on minimum wage legislation just 1 year ago are today trying to attach that legislation to a wartime supplemental. And the very Members who voted to reinstitute PAYGO rules just 2 months ago are here today casting fiscal responsibility to the wind.
This bill should be limited to necessary funding for our troops serving bravely in Iraq and around the world in the war on terror. I ask my honorable Democratic friends how the Democrats can on the one hand say they support our troops by providing them with money, but on the other undermine them by telegraphing a date for their withdrawal from Iraq.
Congress should under no circumstances micromanage the war and have politicians making decisions that should be left to our Commander in Chief and generals on the ground. Even The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, hardly supporters of this administration, have editorialized that this legislation oversteps the bounds of Congress and both support a Presidential veto of the bill.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to oppose this legislation and think long and hard about its consequences. This bill is fiscally irresponsible; it holds our troops hostage to nonemergency [Page: H2964]
spending and policy proposals, and it signals to the insurgents and terrorists around the world a lack of American will to do what is necessary to win the war on terror.
Vote ``no'' on H.R. 1591.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
Mr. Speaker, let me simply say that we could do as the distinguished speaker has indicated and simply rubber-stamp what the administration asks for and do nothing else. But the fact is, what we are doing is exercising our responsibilities to provide checks and balances; Congress has every right to limit the terms and conditions under which appropriations are made, especially in wartime.
I would also point out that lest there be any doubt for the support of the troops, in addition to all of the funding that Mr. Murtha has put in his section of the bill to meet the everyday combat and readiness needs of the troops, we have $1.7 billion above the President's request for veterans health care; we have another $1.7 billion above the President's request for defense health care. I think that makes quite clear that if you are concerned about the troops and concerned about the
veterans, you will vote for this bill.
I will now yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Texas (Mr. Edwards).
Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Speaker, we have a moral obligation to support our troops while they are in combat and when they come home. That is why we fully fund our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and why we commit $3.1 billion in this bill to build better barracks, housing, and training facilities here at home for our troops returning from war.
We also believe that supporting our veterans is a real cost of war, just as real as guns, tanks, and bullets. That is why we had $1.7 billion in high-priority health care and benefits programs for our veterans, with a special focus on taking care of those who need us the most, those suffering from traumatic brain injury, PTSD, or loss of arms and legs. Our veterans' sacrifices don't end after they return home, and neither should our commitment to them.
For members of the Guard and Reserves in rural areas, we provide $100 million for contracting out mental health care services so these brave citizen soldiers don't have to suffer even more by waiting weeks or months for health care they desperately need and deserve. For some, that timely care could mean the difference between health and depression; for other, the difference between life and death.
To prevent a Walter Reed Annex 18 tragedy from occurring in VA hospitals, we commit $550 million to address serious maintenance and repair needs at those hospitals. Not one soldier, not one veteran, not one, should ever again have to endure the indignity of living in rat-infested, moldy housing.
The needs addressed in this bill are real, and our troops and veterans deserve no less. A vote for this bill is a vote for better health care and housing for America's heroes. By voting for this bill, we can honor and respect our troops, our veterans, and their families, not just with our words, but with our deeds.
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I understand my Democrat colleagues have the votes. I guess there was a lot of arm twisting last night. So congratulations on getting the votes necessary to pass this. But I am sad because this bill spends $31 billion more than the President requested. It is a budget buster. And also I am kind of sad because I think a little bit about history.
You know, if George Washington had a Congress with the attitude of this Congress, we might very well have lost the Revolutionary War. If Abraham Lincoln had a Congress with the attitude of this Congress, we might very well have lost the Civil War. And I am sad for our valiant troops who you are going to jerk out of Iraq. It is a withdrawal bill. That is what you want to do, withdraw. And I am sad for our troops, our valiant troops, who want to win. Who want to win. And you are not going to let
them if you have your way.
So I would just like to say, if I were talking to the President of the United States today, Mr. President, hang tough. Hang tough.
Mr. MURTHA. Let me just say that the Revolutionary War, my great-great-grandfather fought in it. We fought our own war. In the Civil War, I have my great-grandfather's hat in my office. He fought against the South in the Civil War. We fought our own war. What we are trying to do in this legislation is force the Iraqis to fight their own war. That's what it's all about. Sixty-two Americans have died this month. We want to force the Iraqis to fight their own war.
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Speaker, is it true that House Rule XXI, clause 9(d) defines an earmark as report language included primarily at the request of a Member recommending a specific amount of spending authority for an entity or targeted to a specific State, locality, or congressional district?
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Speaker, does the language in the committee report directing $35 million to risk mitigation project at NASA's Stennis facility constitute an earmark, as defined in rule XXI, clause 9(d)?
Mr. FLAKE. Is it accurate to say that a Member could request an earmark through the chairman of the committee and have that earmark funded, and then the report come to the floor claiming that there are no earmarks in fact in the bill?
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Speaker, we have passed some good rules with regard to earmark reform and transparency, but we have found a way around them already, because when a report comes to the floor the rule states that it has to state if there is an earmark there, which Member requested it, and what it is for. Yet here we have something that is clearly an earmark for the Stennis facility and not an emergency by any definition. And my office actually called NASA, called the administration, asked was this
requested. No, it wasn't; the request came from Congress. Clearly, an earmark request.
Yet the report comes to the floor; and because it says there are no earmarks, we have to take it for the purpose of the rule that there are no earmarks.
I am just wondering if this is how the appropriations cycle is going to go this year? Do the earmark rules mean anything? Or simply, can we get around them this way? What is to stop every Member from going to the chairman and saying, I have a request for this for my district. Will you simply put it in the overall request? Therefore, my name won't be attached to it.
We need to clean up these rules. If the chairman of the Appropriations Committee would clarify this, I would be most appreciative.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.
The fact is that an earmark is something that is requested by an individual Member. This item was not requested by any individual Member; it was put in the bill by me. And it is there because we are simply doing the same thing with this facility that we are doing throughout the gulf coast, which is to make investments that mitigate against risk because of hurricanes. [Page: H2965]
This is a valuable Federal facility, and it certainly does not pass any definition of earmark that I know. I know the gentleman wants to see earmarks in every closet that he can find, but the fact is it is not an earmark. It was not asked for by any Members of Congress.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I can count on one hand the number of times I voted with this gentleman. He is on the other side of the aisle, but he couldn't get any time on that side. So I am pleased to recognize that all of us have the right to speak regardless of whether we agree with one or not.
I recognize Mr. Kucinich of Ohio for 1 minute.
Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman. I rise in opposition to the bill.
Four years ago, Congress was told we had no alternative but to go to war. That was wrong. Now Congress is telling the American people, we have no alternative but to continue the war for just another year or two, and then we will be able to end the war. So war equals peace. I don't think so.
This war now has a momentum of its own, which has captured even people of good will who say they want peace but are going to vote to keep us at war. The same false logic that trapped Members into voting for the war is trapping Members into voting to continue the war.
I believe you cannot say you are for peace and vote to keep this war going. You cannot say you are for peace and facilitate the theft of Iraqi oil. You cannot say you are for peace and give the President money not just to keep this war going but to attack Iran if he so chooses.
If you want peace, vote for peace now. If you want peace, stop funding the war. If you want peace, stand for the truth.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds. Mr. Speaker, the characterization just placed on the previous speaker is flat out wrong.
Last night we had plenty of time for a lot of Members who didn't show up before the session expired. We called the gentleman from Ohio's office twice to inform him he had time available last night even though he was opposed to our position. He wasn't in a position to take it last night. So I would suggest that we have a different set of speakers today. We called on four Members of the caucus last night who were opposed to our position. And if the gentleman is suggesting that we have not called
on Members who are opposed to our position, he is just flat out wrong.
Mr. KUCINICH. Actually, I was there until very late.
I want to thank my friend from California for yielding 1 minute and thank the gentleman from Wisconsin.
Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker and Members of the House, I rise in very strong support of this bill, and I want to thank Chairman Obey and Chairman Murtha for all of their hard work to put this legislation together.
I believe it is time to bring our troops home, to come home from Iraq, and I believe it is time for this Congress to support this legislation.
As the American soldiers begin their fifth year in this war of choice in Iraq, we confront the tragic fact that the Bush administration's preparation, planning and execution of this war has not kept faith with the enormous sacrifices our men and women in uniform and their families have made.
More than 3,200 American soldiers have died in Iraq, and close to 25,000 more have been seriously wounded. And Iraq is mired in a civil war, with tens of thousands of civilians killed, or even more internally displaced. Hundreds of billions of taxpayers dollars have been squandered in this war that has left our military readiness in jeopardy, the All-Volunteer Army is at a breaking point, and the world's faith in America's leadership is gravely shaken.
The American people recognize President Bush's approach in Iraq for what it is, a failure. That is why we sent a message to Washington this past November to change the course, to end this war, to get out of Iraq. That is what the American people said in November.
Instead, this President, in all of his arrogance and all of his lying, chose to choose a surge.
Well, the time is now for the Congress to do something about that because the American people do not support a war in Iraq, and has no end in sight, and continues the tragic, unnecessary loss of life. And given the President's unwillingness to change course, it is incumbent upon the Congress to act. With this bill the Democrats in Congress are taking a stand against the President on behalf of the soldiers in this country and the American people.
The bill before the House would protect our troops on the battlefield and at home, and require accountability from the Bush administration and the Iraqi Government, and set a responsible timeline for the phased redeployment of U.S. troops with a date certain by September 2008 at the latest. We must support this legislation. And again, I thank the authors of this legislation.
Mr. McHENRY. Point of order. House rule XXI, clause 9 states, and if I shall repeat, or if the gentleman would, if the Speaker would look at House rule XXI, clause 9, is there not cause for action?
Mr. McHENRY. Am I correct to interpret the Chair's statement to mean that even if an earmark is clearly present in the bill under consideration today, that the mere inclusion of a statement certifying that there are no earmarks within the provision effectively neuters the rule?
Mr. EMANUEL. Mr. Speaker, today this Congress, the 110th Congress, faces an historic vote, a vote to truly change the direction of the Iraqi conflict.
Let us review the cost America has borne in 4 years: 3,200 lives have been lost, 25,000 of our citizens have been injured, and nearly a half a trillion dollars have been spent, and America's reputation around the world has been sullied.
And under the President's leadership, his Iraqi policy comes down to something very simple: more troops, more money, more time, more of the same. That is it.
Now, there is a lot of rhetoric going around. We fund our troops. You fund the troops. There is one fundamental difference: We require the Iraqis to bear responsibility for Iraq, and you provide them and the President another blank check for another year. And that is the fundamental difference, whether you will bring accountability and responsibility to the Iraqis to stand up for Iraq.
Now, some bemoan and say we are micromanaging. I would say to you, you rubber-stamped 4 years of mismanagement. Not enough troops, not a plan for the occupation and elimination of the Iraqi Army has brought us in from in search of WMD to policing a sectarian civil war.
And when you talk, as the President said on January 10, that he wants the Iraqis to meet his benchmarks, but you don't have any benchmarks or any accountability for Iraq, I can only say one thing, as we say in Chicago, ``You're all hat and no cattle.''
It is time, after 4 years and an unbelievable cost across America, borne mostly by our troops and their families and our military, that we ask the Iraqis to do for Iraq what they have asked us to do for them for 4 years, and that is to be accountable for their own future.
And I am proud that we have finally done something. We will fund the troops, and we will also demand that Iraq stand up for Iraq's future and stop leaning on America alone.
And we have done something that is so important that has been missing in this policy, and that is not only a new direction, but fundamentally bringing the responsibility and accountability to the Iraqis, which is why many in the Armed Forces are happy we are forcing Iraqis to do for Iraq's future what they have asked us to do, which is stop policing their civil war, but demand accountability, bring a new direction to this, because after 4 years, more troops, more money, more time is only rubber-stamping
more of the same.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I would not want the gentleman from Wisconsin to think, since I don't have an opening statement, that I don't feel as passionately about this issue as he does. We just happen to disagree about how we support the troops, whether we make an effort to support them by providing adequate and flexible funding for the commanders, or have a mandatory withdrawal
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Weldon) a member of the committee, for 2 minutes.
Mr. DICKS. Mr. Speaker, I want to rise to commend my colleagues, Mr. Obey and Mr. Murtha, for the excellent work on the supplemental appropriations bill that they have brought to the House floor. The House leadership has worked hard to put together the votes to pass this legislation.
This bill funds the troops. We have given them extra funds to deal with the critical issues of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. We need to clean up the mess at Walter Reed and the other hospitals around the country, including the VA hospitals. There is money in this bill to provide extra staff, nurses and to clean up these facilities.
It is critical that we put pressure on the Iraqi Government to end the civil war. The Maliki government must get the message that the American people do not have unlimited patience. General Petraeus has said that we cannot end this war with only a military solution. We need the Iraqis to resolve the conflict amongst themselves. We need them to fix their Constitution, pass necessary oil legislation, and end the sectarian violence. The benchmarks in this bill will help them to accomplish these
I hope that General Petraeus is successful in reducing the violence in Baghdad and the surrounding area. I hope that U.S. forces embedded with Iraqi forces can stop the sectarian killing. Without political reconciliation, we cannot stop the sectarian violence and the al Qaeda-led terrorist attacks. We also need an economic recovery program across Iraq to create badly needed jobs.
This bill sets a timetable. It puts pressure on the Maliki government, and I think it is the right bill at the right time to change our Iraq policy and to bring the troops home in a reasonable period of time.
I hope we can stabilize Iraq, but we can only do it with the effort of the Iraqi Government and their people.
Mr. NEUGEBAUER. Mr. Speaker, I hope today, as we take this vote, that people will understand really what is at stake here.
I have heard a lot of discussion today, and some Members are going to go back home and say, well, I voted for this bill and against the troops because I brought home some things for the people in my district.
But today this vote is not about bringing home bacon for the people in your district. It is about American security.
My family was in New York on 9/11, and my daughter-in-law and her mother were supposed to be at the World Trade Center on 9/11. So when I take this vote this afternoon or at noon, whenever we have this, let me tell you the reason why RANDY NEUGEBAUER is going to be voting ``no.'' Because I am looking forward, not at what we are doing today and what is going to, who is going to be able to take what projects home, but I am looking forward to the security of America. I am looking into the
eyes of my grandsons Nathan and Noah and saying, Nathan and Noah, I didn't leave America safe and secure for you.
This is about security. 9/11 is a real event. America was attacked. We have been attacked before. We know this enemy is going to come back and attack us again.
This bill, this vote, is about keeping America safe. So when Members go home and brag about their vote on this, I hope that they go home and brag about the fact that they cast a vote that will ensure a safe and secure America because, you see, if you take all of these projects home, and there is no security in America, there is no America.
I urge my colleagues not to vote for this bill.
I rise today in strong support of our troops and their mission in Iraq.
Ten days ago, I returned from my third trip to Iraq. From the generals to the privates, the message I heard from our troops in Iraq was ``let us do our job so we can win.'' And that is precisely what we should be doing here today.
Today, we should be working to provide our military with the tools and resources needed to attain victory .....
Today, we should be showing our troops that we are behind them 100 percent ..... And today, we should be showing the world that America has the resolve to stand up to terrorist threats even when the going gets tough.
Instead, this ill-advised legislation does just the opposite. By putting restrictions on our military commanders and the President ..... and setting a firm timeline and final date for withdrawal, this bill undermines the war effort, sends the wrong message to our troops, and telegraphs our war strategy to the enemy.
Our Constitution is clear in that it places the responsibility for conducting the war in the hands of a single Commander-in-Chief, not Congress. Our Founding Fathers wisely understood that having 535 politicians in Washington attempt to micromanage a war is a recipe for disaster.
I am further disappointed that the majority has jeopardized the success of the drought relief package for farmers and ranchers.
I strongly support drought relief and have been calling for federal assistance since last summer. However, as much as I know producers in my district support disaster assistance, I cannot in good conscience support this supplemental because of the flawed military strategy that the majority is pursuing in this bill.
Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1591 and commend Chairman Obey, Chairman Murtha, and our Speaker for putting together a bill that protects our troops, responds to the will of the American people, and preserves our Nation's interests.
Our men and women in uniform have served with honor and courage, but we are not doing our part. Our Armed Forces are not battle-ready, nor is their mission clear and achievable. There is no definition of victory. The nature of the battle has changed, and our troops now find themselves policing a bloody civil war. It is well past time to set clear parameters for this war.
Since the beginning, this war and reconstruction efforts have been ill-managed. Just yesterday the Iraq IG reported yet again on how unprepared the administration was for the task of reconstruction. The Defense Department had no strategy for restoring government institutions, establishing security, or rebuilding infrastructure, and the State Department was cut completely out of the work.
There continues to be a lack of coordination and strategy to achieve our objectives. Putting billions of dollars more into this war without any parameters and risking the lives of more of our brave men and women is not only foolish; it is immoral. As the New York Times editorial noted on Thursday, if the President won't step up to the task of setting benchmarks and ensuring the safety of our troops, then it falls to us, this Congress.
Mr. Speaker, this bill does just that. We are stepping up to our responsibilities. This legislation does not micromanage the war, as many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle claim. It is a very carefully considered approach to bringing accountability to the execution of the war and to the reconstruction efforts. Moreover, it sets a date certain for the end of this war so we can bring our troops home.
No amount of American blood or treasure can help Iraq if the Iraqis don't help themselves. The Maliki government must exhibit the political will to confront extremists on both sides of the Sunni-Shia divide, to give all segments of society a stake in Iraq's future, and to put Iraqi revenues towards the hard task of reconstruction. Congress didn't pull these benchmarks from the air. They were put forth by the Iraqis and by President Bush in his January 10 speech.
Mr. Speaker, we are already into the fifth year of this war. The bill provides the funding the President requested, but it does not do so unconditionally. This bill sets benchmarks, provides a date certain for withdrawal.
The days of open-ended commitment and unilateral check-writing privileges are over. This bill deals with Iraq responsibly, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
Mr. McHENRY. Mr. Speaker, according to the definition of an earmark under rule XXI, clause 9, the section 3103 of this legislation which appropriates $35 million to spinach growers, does this not qualify as an earmark under rule XXI, clause 9?
Mr. McHENRY. Mr. Speaker, according to the definition of an earmark under rule XXI, clause 9, which the Chair recognizes from the House rules, how does section 3104, which appropriates $20 million to a particular agricultural interest in a particular district, not qualify as an earmark?
Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, on Monday I spoke on this floor about a conflict I had in supporting this measure because I want peace in our world and I want our troops to come home. I asked for my constituents to let me know how they felt.
Hundreds of people responded with e-mails and phone calls, and I appreciate each of them. They want us to support our troops. They want to bring our troops home from Iraq, and they want to take care of our veterans.
The most effective way to accomplish those things is to vote for this bill. This will be the first step in ending the war in Iraq, taking care of our veterans, but at the same time, supporting our troops.
I am proud to be a Member of this Congress and to vote ``aye'' today on this bill.
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Speaker, first let me compliment my friend from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee; and the subcommittee chairman, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha), for the excellent work that they have done. And we thank our minority for working with us on this bill.
The purpose of the Members of Congress front and center is to provide for the common defense of our country. I must tell you how concerned and worried I am about the readiness and state of readiness of the United States Army based upon testimony and briefings that we have had within the Armed Services Committee.
Readiness is based upon equipment and based upon people able to do their job as defenders in uniform. This is a serious situation in which we find ourselves. This bill is a major step toward helping our readiness.
It is our job not just to appropriate money for today's concerns, whether it be in the Middle East or elsewhere. It is our job to make sure that those in uniform can protect the interests of America in the days and years ahead.
In the last 30 years, we have had 12 military conflicts in which our military associates have been involved. What does the future hold? We don't know. But as sure as God made little green apples, there will be threats that we need to deter or challenges that we need to fight in the days and years ahead. We must have a ready force in all services and my deep concern for the United States Army causes that to come into question in our capability.
In this we provide money for the real war in Afghanistan, the Strategic Reserve Fund, which supports training, not just operations but repair of equipment, purchase of equipment, and expenses to improve the readiness of the nondeployed military forces.
I am deeply concerned about the readiness of our forces in the days and years ahead. This bill will help immeasurably in that first step toward restoring readiness for our United States Army. And this is no small thing. A vote against this is a vote against those uncertainties of the future as well as where we are today involved in conflict.
Military health care is very important, and we look at that in this bill solidly. Veterans' health care, military housing allowances. We do so many good things in this bill for our military.
Let us not let the readiness of our United States Army suffer as a result of not passing this all-important legislation.
Mr. McCRERY. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Lewis for yielding me this time.
In my almost 19 years in the United States House of Representatives, I have cast many difficult votes. And I have often spoken to groups of constituents over the years, and in the course of their asking me questions, inevitably one of the questions will be, What is the most difficult vote you have taken as a Member of the House?
And I am always quick to respond, even though there have been many difficult votes, clearly the most difficult vote I have had to make as a Member of the House is to vote to send our troops into war.
And certainly the vote that this House made to authorize the President to send our troops to Iraq this most recent time was a very difficult vote for all of us. Some of us, it seems, have changed our minds and wish we hadn't cast that vote. But the fact is we did cast that vote. We voted in the majority to start this war.
I believe, based on my reading of history, my studies of past engagements, military engagements, it would be a tremendous mistake for the Congress of the United States to attempt to micromanage this war and bring it to a conclusion through artificially constraining decisions on the battlefield.
I have spoken face to face with the President of the United States about this war. I know he is trying his best to bring this war to a conclusion. He is trying his best to make sure that the interests of the United States, as well as the interests of the people of Iraq, are served as he plans strategy and works with our military leaders to plot the best course for ending this war and preserving and serving the interests of the United States.
He has a new strategy in play. It seems to be working. We are getting favorable reports from the commanders in the field.
Let us give this Commander in Chief and his military leaders a chance to serve this country, to serve Iraq, and end this in the best possible way for the United States. Let us not try to micromanage from the Congress, with 435 in the House and 100 in the Senate, telling our leaders how to conduct this war and when to end it. That is the wrong course of action for this country.
Mr. McHENRY. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from California.
Mr. Speaker, we have an interesting bill before us here today. It appropriates $100 million for shrimp, it appropriates $100 million for citrus growers, it appropriates $74 million for a particular type of peanut storage and [Page: H2970]
$25 million for spinach. It even appropriates $50 million for a Capitol Hill power plant. And they do this in the name of funding the troops. I think this is, again, Washington hypocrisy at work.
The most egregious part of this bill, I find, is that there are billions of dollars in this bill for livestock, which the American people, Mr. Speaker, should know is literally pork for pork.
And it is all about getting votes together to fund the troops in harm's way, but instead of funding the troops in harm's way, they are funding pork-barrel projects here in the United States.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, this is wrong for our troops in battle, but it is a great gift for Washington Democrat politicians who are in power here in the House today.
This is a failure to understand what ``emergency'' means, what ``war'' means and the fight we have going in Iraq.
Mr. BLUNT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and for his hard work on this and other work that we do here.
I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the debate on this emergency spending bill has provided the service of reminding Americans exactly what is at stake in Iraq, the prospects of victory, the consequences of defeat, and a better appreciation of how it is we do everything we possibly can to secure and support our men and women in harm's way.
House Republicans, Mr. Speaker, asked the Speaker and her colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to produce a clean and straightforward supplemental emergency bill, a package worthy of our troops' hard work and dedication, with help we could deploy to the front lines as quickly as possible.
What we got instead was a poorly assembled wish-list of nonemergency spending requests wrapped in a date-certain declaration of defeat, a confirmation to our enemies that if they hang on just a bit longer, we will be out of their way soon.
I happen to believe the stakes in Iraq are too high and the sacrifices made by our military personnel and their families too great to be content with anything but success. But the bill brought before us today isn't written with victory in mind. Its prevailing tone is one of defeat, and its abiding premise is that America's mission in Iraq is over and our troops' continued status there is without merit. And just to drive the point home, it forces on General Petraeus and his commanders on the ground
constant status and reporting requirements, designed not only to undermine their basic operational authority, but to hasten a withdrawal of troop support from the region.
When the leaders of the majority were offered the opportunity for a secure briefing from General Petraeus a few days ago, they said no. When the majority was offered a briefing from Secretary Gates, Secretary Rice and Secretary Pace in the last few days, they said no again.
Does anyone think that demoting our best generals to administrative assistants represents our best chance of achieving our goals in this region? Does anyone believe our commanders in the field have been given too much authority and too much flexibility to get the job done?
Ultimate victory in Iraq is a proposition that is far from guaranteed, Mr. Speaker, but ultimate failure in Iraq is, if this attempt to co-opt the essential command-and-control responsibilities of our commanders in the field ever actually becomes law.
Mr. Speaker, this emergency supplemental includes billions of dollars in nonemergency spending, offered as an excuse to vote for a bill that guarantees our defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I urge a ``no'' vote on this bill and ask my colleagues to join me in sending a message of strength and resolve to our friends and our enemies and, most importantly, to our troops in the field.
Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill as chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, advocating for the bill's acceleration of programs critical to the integrity of our borders and the safety of the American people. These are carefully crafted, legitimate emergency security measures, and there is no good reason to wait further to make this country more secure.
Today, however, I want to address the broader bill, speaking colleague to colleague, mindful and respectful of the struggles with conscience so evident among us in recent days.
I did not support originally giving the authority to the President to wage war in Iraq. I have introduced legislation calling for an end to that authorization. But I understand there is a wide range of opinion on where we should go from here, and there are many who believe that this bill, which takes a major step towards changing our course in Iraq, either goes too far or not far enough.
Our discussions on this issue have brought to mind lessons from my days in divinity school and as a teacher of ethics, lessons I believe are helpful in sorting out what it means and should mean to follow one's conscience on a matter such as this.
On the first day of Ethics 101, we learn that we often face two kinds of moral choice in life. One has to do with the morality of an act itself, which is what many colleagues are referring to when they say they are ``voting their conscience'' on what we know is an imperfect bill.
The second kind of moral choice requires us to consider the consequences of our acts. That is also an exercise of conscience, perhaps an even more demanding one.
Think about the consequences. What if the consequence of voting ``no'' is to let slip away the best chance we may have for a long time to compel a change of course in Iraq? What if a consequence is the further crippling of this House's influence in this country's foreign and defense policy? What if the consequence of a ``no'' vote is to allow the President to continue on the same failed policy course? Are those not matters of conscience?
Some talk as though we should simply square the contents of this bill against an ideal and vote accordingly. No, I am afraid moral choice and our obligations as public servants run deeper than that.
Please, don't sell short a vote in favor of this bill as though it were a mere practical or political accommodation. By all means, treat this vote as an act of conscience, but an act based on a searching consideration of the full range of consequences that may result.
Mr. HOBSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 1591, the Fiscal Year 2007 U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Supplemental Appropriations Act, because, in my opinion, it sends the wrong message to our troops, our allies and the Iraqi people, who really want to take care of and control of their own country.
In my opinion, this bill will tie the hands of the commanders in the field by micromanaging from Washington the military decisions that those commanders ought to be making on the ground. Further, by setting a date-certain timeline requirement for withdrawing our troops, in my opinion it will endanger U.S. personnel and give our enemies a date to wait us out.
Mr. Speaker, this bill not only sends the wrong message to our troops about their efforts to bring stability to Iraq, it sends the wrong one to our allies throughout the world. In my opinion, it says that if you bloody us enough, we are going to walk away.
If we walk away, our credibility is gone in the world. We will be abandoning the thousands of Iraqis who risked their lives and voted for freedom, and risk bringing dishonor to the men and women who have fought and died in this war.
One thing that strikes me about the debate of this bill and the recent one on H. Res. 63, the Iraqi war resolution, is that there is little or no discussion on what the Iraqis are willing to do to bring themselves closer to taking control of their own country. [Page: H2971]
Earlier this year I went on a bipartisan congressional delegation trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. While we met with U.S. troops and commanders, we also had a chance to meet with the leaders of those countries, including Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki. He told us if his country had the command and control, equipment and our backing, the Iraqis could begin to take over their own security in 3 to 6 months and that we could be able to redeploy 50,000 U.S. troops at that time.
Mr. Speaker, we need to make sure that President Maliki has the tools and resources to be successful. For those who are looking for a timely withdrawal of troops, why shouldn't we be focusing on giving him and his plan a chance, rather than setting arbitrary withdrawal deadlines? The quicker that the Iraqi people take control of their country, the quicker U.S. troops can begin to withdraw with dignity. This bill, I don't believe, moves us further in that direction.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to send our own message to the leadership of this body that our troops and commanders in the field deserve a bill that will support them in their efforts to bring stability to Iraq.
Finally, I am troubled by the way the new majority has restricted the debate, for even while we are encouraging the Iraqi people and their leaders to become more democratic, the House of Representatives, in my opinion, is moving in the opposite direction.
During the last elections, much was made about maintaining a fair and open process in the people's House, and I shared that. Frankly, I don't think we did when we were in the majority enough on that. This bill, however, is back to even worse than that because it is being considered under conditions that are neither fair nor open. Specifically, no amendments are allowed, and no alternatives can be considered on this most important bill.
Mr. Speaker, a bill with such historical importance needs to have open and fair debate. That is the way this type of bill has always been considered, I thought, before. That is what the American people were promised last fall. I, frankly, deeply regret that this is not now occurring today.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha), the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
(Mr. MURTHA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Speaker, I keep hearing people say that we have got to give this a chance. For 4 years we have given this a chance. For 4 years we have had our troops overseas.
Here is the problem that we face. Every time that we give them a chance, they disappear. For instance, they said that the Iraqis are going to lead this surge. Let me tell you, 50 percent of the Iraqis in the units aren't showing up. So the Americans have to take over. We have to pay the bill.
The Europeans, this is just as important to the Europeans as it is to us, and the Europeans benefit from the oil that comes from Iraq, yet they are not really participating to any significant amount, versus the first war where they participated significantly. George Bush I got a coalition together.
The problem we have with what is going on, this is not General Petraeus' war, this is the administration's war. This administration has put us in a position where the military has to actually violate their own guidelines in order to get troops to Iraq.
I knew over an a year ago we didn't have the numbers of troops we needed to sustain this deployment, and the surge makes it worse. The worst thing we can do is send troops, and if you vote against this, you are going to vote for sending troops into war without being fully mission-capable, without the training and equipment they need, and that is absolutely unacceptable.
I note to the Congress and I note to the people sitting on that side who worked so hard to fund the military, we put $70 billion in last time that the administration did not even ask for.
We have 36,000 additional troops in here for the overall picture. So if you vote against this, you are voting against those 36,000 troops, for the total number of troops that need to be not deployed, but need to be available to be deployed.
Our reserves are in desperate shape. Our Strategic Reserve, when we started this war with C-1, they are now in the lowest state of readiness. They couldn't be deployed. Only two divisions would be deployed. So we have a lot of work to do.
And I say to the Members, you are voting against supporting the troops if you vote against the money that goes to the troops and the money that has already been sent or is going to be sent. They are going to run out in April, and we need to get this bill through.
Mr. Speaker, I urge the Members on both sides of the aisle to vote for this legislation.
Mr. BARRETT of South Carolina. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I don't know what to say. I will say this, H.R. 1591, when it comes up in 1 hour or 45 minutes, I'm going to vote against it. But I want to say two things to two groups out there. Number one, to the American people, I want to say, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I can't stop runaway fiscal spending. I can't stop a House that is out of control. I'm sorry for that. But more importantly, I want to say I'm sorry to my soldiers, because I cannot do enough to protect you.
Men and women halfway across this world laying their life on the line for me and my family and my children and my country and everything I believe in, I can't do enough to help you, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
I will fight today, I will fight tomorrow, I will fight every day I am a United States Congressman for my soldiers and my people and my country. I will not give up. All I ask is don't give up on them; don't give up on me; and don't give up on us.
Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I share the previous speaker's sorrow. I'm sorry that the policies pursued by this administration have not done what he wanted to do, support our troops. We sent too few, we equipped them too little, and we have left them too long and trained them for too short a time. Yes, I'm sorry.
The American public expects us, the Congress of the United States, to do something, not simply to say yes to failed policies, but to, on their behalf, speak out and try to take us in a new direction.
Mr. Speaker, there is not a Member of this body on either side of the aisle who does not pray for our success in Iraq and who does not pray for the safe return of our brave service men and women. However, after the loss of more than 3,200 American soldiers and more than 24,000 injured and after the expenditure of more than $400 billion on a war now entering its fifth year that Secretary Rumsfeld told us would take just a few months. With open arms and cheering in the streets, this war would be
over and the mission would have been accomplished almost 4 years ago, said the President of the United States, who now asks us to rubber-stamp, no strings attached. Do it, as Mr. Putnam said, before supper. That is not what the American public expects of us. They expect better. They expect a new direction. They expect us to think, not simply say, amen, Mr. President.
The Defense Department says: ``Some elements of the situation in Iraq are properly described as a civil war.'' None of us who voted for the original authorization voted to put our troops in the middle of a civil war, not one of us.
The Iraq Government has failed to meet political goals. It is our responsibility to ask them to do so because we want to support our troops. And if the Iraqis do not meet their responsibilities, our troops will not be supported. A National Intelligence Estimate concludes that this war is increasing, this is the National Intelligence Estimate, increasing the global war on terror. The Army Chief of Staff has issued strong warnings about the effect of the war on America's overall military readiness.
Mr. Murtha has talked about that for at least the last 2 years.
My friend, the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, with whom I served for a quarter of a century on that committee, he must share [Page: H2972]
the concern about military readiness that all of us share and know that we are eroding our military readiness every day. Thus, the question before the Members today is this: Will we change direction in Iraq, or will we continue to stay the course with a failing policy?
Mr. Speaker, I believe the answer is clear. It is long past time that this Congress assert itself and assist on accountability and a new direction in Iraq. More blank checks from this Congress would constitute an abdication of our responsibility and our duty. Four years of abdication is enough. It is time, my fellow Members, for Congress to assert its support of our troops by adopting policies that will keep them safe and enhance their success.
This legislation, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, will protect our troops, requiring deployments to adhere to existing Defense Department standards, not our standards, Defense Department standards, standards for training, equipment and armor, while allowing the President to waive these standards, which are his own, the administration's standards, if he believes it necessary. That is the right thing for us to do.
The bill also holds the Iraqi Government accountable, measuring its performance by the standards President Bush outlined in his January 10 speech, not our standards for Iraq, but the benchmarks that the President of the United States has set. But if they are only rhetorical benchmarks with nothing behind them to require that action, then we are wasting our time in supporting our troops because that will not do it.
The bill provides a responsible strategy for a phased redeployment of U.S. forces and refocusing our efforts on fighting al Qaeda. That is who attacked us, not the Sunni or Shia, but al Qaeda.
Some claim that this legislation will micromanage the war. That assertion is absolutely false and without ground. Our Commander in Chief, General Petraeus and our military commanders on the ground will retain all the flexibility they need to succeed. This legislation in no way undercuts their discretion on the ground. The only strings attached concerning troop readiness and the Iraq Government's progress have been endorsed by President Bush. Others assert that inclusion of a timeline for responsible
redeployment is tantamount to capitulation. Mr. Hobson spoke on this floor just a few minutes ago. He voted to set a time line in Bosnia. Mr. Lewis sits as the ranking member of this committee; he voted on June 24, 1997, to set a timeline. Mr. Hastert, Speaker of the House, set a timeline. Mr. Delay voted for a timeline. Mr. Blunt voted for a timeline. Mr. Boehner voted for a timeline.
Every one of them voted for a timeline, and what were the circumstances? We hadn't lost a single troop, not one. We had spent $7 billion, not $379 billion. We had brought genocide to a stop, ethnic cleansing to a stop, and we were not losing people and we had a stable environment, yet they voted for a timeline.
Here, Secretary Gates says in testimony at his confirmation hearing: ``We are not winning.'' If that is the case, it is time for us to have a new strategy, a new direction, a new paradigm, if you will. That is what this bill does.
Mr. Boehner said just a few weeks ago, in terms of timelines, he said, ``I think it will be rather clear in the next 60 to 90 days as to whether this plan, the current escalation, is going to work.'' ``We need to know,'' Mr. Boehner said, ``as we are moving through these benchmarks that the Iraqis are doing what they have to do.'' Nothing in this bill will undermine that 60- or 90-day expectation that the minority leader, the Republican leader, has articulated. Under this legislation,
if the Iraqis meet their benchmarks for
progress, the redeployment of American forces will not begin until a year from now. This is not any precipitous withdrawal. And, indeed, if there is total success, it will be more than a year from now.
Finally, let me point out, as I have said earlier, that timelines were supported in July of 1997, 220-2. Only two Republicans voted against setting a timeline. I voted against that timeline. And I said ``at this time.'' Why did I say that? Because we were succeeding. We were not losing troops. We had stopped genocide. We had stopped ethnic cleansing. We had a stable government in Serbia. We were winning and our strategy was succeeding. And under those circumstances, I thought timelines were not
appropriate. But there is not a military general I have talked to who has said that we are succeeding. Today, this very day, the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq lies deeply wounded, life at risk. If a Member of Congress goes to Baghdad, they will not drive you from the airport to the Green Zone. Why? Because they do not believe it is safe, almost 50 months after we started this operation.
My friends, it is time for a new direction. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle support the troops, represent America, represent your people who want to win but do not want to leave our troops in the middle of a civil war. Support this well-thought-out crafted piece of legislation, which in no way undermines the ability of our troops to manage this war, but says to them, we will expect the Iraqis to perform and we will give you a time frame in which the world will know that they must
themselves take responsibility.
Mr. ROYCE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, as The Washington Post says today: ``Altogether, the House Democratic leadership has come up with more than $20 billion of new spending, much of it wasted subsidies. And it makes us wonder how $74 million to extend peanut storage payments or $250 million for MILC subsidies will aid our troops.''
Perhaps my colleagues believe that these agricultural subsidies are necessary, but I don't see how they are going to help us defeat Islamist terrorists. Is this really what General Petraeus needs? Is this what he asked for? No, it is not. And it is bad policy to start, and it is worse by mixing it without backing of our forces in the field.
It is not just the language that gives us pause here. If it is our mission to win in Iraq, then we should not be making it more difficult for our troops to succeed. Cutting off funding and micromanaging a war does that, according to our commanders in the field. And as The Post adds: ``The bill excludes the judgment of General Petraeus, excludes the judgment of the U.S. commanders who would have to execute the retreat that the bill mandates.''
And as The Post goes on to say: ``Democrats should not seek to use pork to buy a majority for an unconditional retreat that the majority does not support.''
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands (Mrs. Christensen) for a unanimous consent request.
(Mrs. CHRISTENSEN asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)
Mr. SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, so much has been said, and I think we are very clear on the purpose of this bill and the importance of it as far as the war in Iraq is concerned.
But there is another aspect to this bill. There are literally 2 million children who are without health care. I want to at this point recognize and give due thanks and appreciation to Congressman John Murtha. No State has suffered because of the CHIP program as the children of Georgia's 273,000 children who would be without their health insurance if it were not for this war supplemental.
When the issue was taken to the White House, he said no. All hope was gone. I went to John Murtha, and John Murtha said, we will help you, and we will attach it to the Iraqi war supplemental. And he took it to Mr. Obey and to the Speaker.
Ladies and gentlemen, I make this plea to you, as the Scripture says clearly, suffer not the little children. This is the only hope for getting our insurance for our children in the SCHIP program. I urge you to not let the children of the United States of America go down the drain. Vote for the children of this Nation and for this bill.
Thank you, Mr. Murtha.
Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Speaker, before we vote on this bill, we need to remind ourselves one more time, the jihadist terrorism is what this debate is all about.
Brink Lindsey put it in such succinct terms when he said, ``Here is the grim truth: We are only one act of madness away from a social cataclysm unlike anything our country has ever known. After a handful of such acts, who knows what kind of civilization breakdown might be in store?''
Mr. Speaker, as we anticipate future actions of jihadists and our place in Iraq, we would do well to consider their words very carefully. Al Qaeda's al-Zawahiri said this: ``The jihad movement is growing and rising. It reached its peak with the two blessed raids on New York and Washington. And now it is waging a great heroic battle in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and even within the crusaders' own homes.''
Osama bin Laden himself said: ``The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this third world war. It is raging in the land of the two rivers,'' Iraq. ``The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate.''
Mr. Speaker, if Democrats are correct that the struggle in Iraq is not crucial to winning the war against jihadism, then for God's sake, I wish they would explain that to the terrorists. Instead, we hear the most senior Democrat in this House quoted as saying, ``I don't take sides for or against Hezbollah, or for or against Israel.''
Mr. Speaker, a blind relativism that deliberatively ignores all truth and equates merciless terrorism with free nations defending themselves and their innocent citizens is more dangerous to humanity than terrorism itself, and it is proof that liberals completely misunderstand the enemy that we face.
Because of this kind of relativist neutrality, jihadists now believe they have a crucial advantage over the free world and its people. They believe their will is far stronger than ours, and that they need only to persevere to prevail.
Mr. Speaker, the passage of this bill will only encourage them in that belief. And if liberals in this body are willing to see freedom defeated in Iraq, they must also be willing to take responsibility for almost certainly what will follow.
Mr. Speaker, finally, we can have peace with jihadists tomorrow if we are willing to surrender today. And that kind of surrender will be on their terms, and it will ultimately bring a nuclear jihad to our children. Future American generations will despise this one.
Mr. Speaker, there is still time to defeat this bill. Let us not take this ominous step in this direction.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 4 minutes.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that at the end of the debate the closing speech on the Republican side will be given by our good friend from Texas Mr. Johnson. I think everyone in this place respects him and loves him.
I must say that having gone through this for the last 3 weeks trying to talk to each and every person who I could reach about this measure has given me a profound respect for a good many Members of this institution whom I had not known before, especially the newcomers.
The caucus that we had this morning was one of the most moving experiences that I have ever felt in my 38 years in the Congress. I heard Member after Member stand up and discuss this issue as a matter of high principle; but they also discussed it in terms of what the impact of their votes would be, not on themselves, but on the people of this country, on the soldiers who are fighting in the field, on the people in Iraq, and on our country's ability to influence the world.
This is a very tough issue. There are many considerations that each of us brings to this judgment, but in the end, I think we have a choice. As I said earlier today, we have a choice in determining what kind of Congress this is going to be. We can continue the practices of the past which rubberstamped virtually everything the President wanted on Iraqi policy. We can continue to do what he wants and only what he wants and only when he wants to do it and only in the way he wants to do it; or we
can do what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they created the Congress. We can exercise checks and balances in order to try to move policy into a more constructive direction for this country.
If you oppose this bill today, and if you take the position that all it should contain is what the President sent down, then you would be saying that you wanted to finance BRAC, the base-closing program, by gutting key education programs as the President recommends. You would be opposed to additional border security, additional port security and additional cargo security.
You would be opposed to finally, after all of the horrendous pictures and all of the horrendous human suffering, you would be opposed to finally meeting our total obligations to the victims of Katrina.
You would be opposed to asking for the money which the President himself asked that we provide in 2005 on an emergency basis to prepare this country to meet the pandemic flu epidemic which will surely at some time come.
You would be opposing the additional $3.5 million that we have provided in this bill for veterans' health care and defense health care, and you would be opposing the timelines and the benchmarks which we place in this legislation, not because they are so perfect, but because they are the instrument by which we communicate to the Iraqi politicians that they must begin to resolve their differences, they must step up, because we are not going to run our baby-sitting service forever.
It is imperative that we finally send that signal. The President cannot send [Page: H2974]
that signal, but we can help General Petraeus. We can help our own government by sending the signal that this Congress is going to play bad cop until the Iraqis get the message.
That is what Mr. Murtha's efforts have been about, that is what mine have been about, that's what the Speaker's efforts have been about, and that's what the efforts have been about by virtually every person in this caucus and this House who has had a say in what this bill was going to contain.
I strongly urge an ``aye'' vote.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. CANTOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, some 6,000 miles from here a new plan is underway to secure Baghdad and stabilize an Iraq that 2 months ago was sliding into chaos. Indeed, we should be encouraged by declining levels of violence in Baghdad as well as the beginning of a restoration of trust between ordinary Iraqis and coalition and Iraqi forces.
Unlike the gentleman before me, I disagree that this sends the right message. This supplemental undermines General Petraeus' plan before our troops have an opportunity to achieve success.
Instead of reaffirming our commitment to victory, this bill concedes defeat while piling on billions in unrelated pork. So while tropical fish get $5 million, our troops get a steady Democratic diet of limitations and pull-out deadlines. We should have few doubts that, if passed, this bill will be a rallying cry for terrorists recently dismayed by our resolve.
Our troops march to the order of one Commander in Chief, not 535. While the current Commander in Chief has a plan for victory, it is apparent that the majority party in this House has already thrown in the towel.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 30 seconds.
The gentleman is entitled to his own opinions; he is not entitled to his own facts.
There is nothing in this bill whatsoever that has anything to do with tropical fish, unless he thinks that Lake Erie is in the Tropics.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 10 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha), the chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Mr. MURTHA. Let me tell you what is in this bill and what you are voting against. There is $1.7 billion of this bill request for military health care. If you vote against this bill, you are denying our troops $1.7 billion.
There is $450 million for post-traumatic stress. There is $450 million for brain injury care. It is insufficient, but that is the money we put in the bill; $62 million for amputee care at Walter Reed, $20 million to fix up Walter Reed. That is what is in this bill for health care.
If you vote against this bill, the military families will be denied $17 million to help prevent child-spouse abuse.
The bill increases accountability over contractors. When I was in Iraq a month and a half ago, the contractors were falling all over each other. GAO and the inspector general of Iraq said to us, help us get this under control. I asked or one of the Members in the subcommittee asked the GAO what we could do to help. And I asked the Under Secretary of Defense: How many contractors do you have in Iraq? He couldn't tell me. He said, we will tell you within a week. We still haven't heard, and that
has been over a month ago. We have had 11 hearings, and we are going to have 35 more hearings before this year is over. We are going to hold the Department of Defense accountable for the money that they are spending and the strategy that they are using.
This bill bans permanent bases in Iraq. This bill bans torture in Iraq. We have sent troops to Iraq that were not trained in their specific MOSs, and that is exactly why Abu Ghraib happened. We had people that were untrained, National Guard members who were untrained who went into that prison, didn't know how to handle it, and it caused a natural disaster, a public relations disaster.
The way the military is doing the job, and there is nobody that regards the military higher than I do. Nobody is more inspired by the troops that I have talked to and I have seen. But let me tell you something. With the type of tactics that they have to use, by knocking down doors and by using overwhelming force, it makes enemies. That is the problem we have, and we are not winning the hearts and minds of the people when we do that.
Let me talk about the readiness of our troops. Every unit in the United States, except two National Guard units, went into this war with the highest state of readiness. Now, there are only two units in the United States that are at the highest state of readiness.
This provides money to take care of that. If you vote against that, you are voting against money to take care of readiness for our strategic reserve.
Let me tell you what General Craddock says. General Craddock is the European commander, the NATO commander, American commander. Listen to what I am saying. This is what General Craddock says: ``We have very little capacity left after we source the global force pool, if you will, for these ongoing European Command missions. Our ability to do that now is limited because we don't have the forces available since they are in the rotation to the other missions.''
He is saying what I have been saying for a year and a half. This is a failed policy wrapped in illusion. We do not have the troops. We do not have a strategic reserve to be able to react to a future national threat to this great country. The troops can only do so much.
This bill includes $1.4 billion for new armored vehicles. If you vote against this, you are voting against the new armored vehicles which we need so badly. We put an extra $313 million above what the Defense Department requested for those vehicles. That is the V-shaped vehicles which resist the IEDs. If you vote against this bill, you will be denying the troops better protection and better equipment.
The bill also includes billions to reset the forces. What I have been saying is the equipment, somebody said the other day, well, they train on old equipment. Well, why does that mean anything? Those of you who have been in the military knows what it means. It means when you go into combat, you do not have the type of equipment you need. You are risking the lives of these people by training on inadequate equipment. We have two units that will not go to the desert because they have to rush them
out over to Iraq.
It is not the military's fault. The administration has forced the military to break their own guidelines in order to send troops over to supply this surge and to sustain this deployment.
Finally, we are saying in this bill, you cannot send troops back into battle unless they have the appropriate training, they are fully trained, mission capable. Is there anybody that is going to vote against that? If you vote against this bill, you vote against that. If you vote against this bill, you vote against sending troops back in less than a year at home. That is unacceptable.
You can sit here and say we are fighting this war, oh, yes, you can sit here in Washington and say you are fighting this war. But let me tell you something, those young people sometimes went back three and four times; their families are suffering. These are not 140,000 people. These are each individuals with families and relatives that are bearing the brunt of this fighting that are sent back.
This bill forces the administration to live up to the guidelines they have set for their military and not to extend them. A psychologist told us in a hearing that if you spend 3 months in combat that there is a good chance you will start to develop PTSD three months in this intensive combat in Baghdad.
Now, you can sit here and talk about us fighting this war on terrorism. We put an extra billion dollars for Afghanistan in this bill so we could fight terrorism where it started in Afghanistan. That is where it started.
Let me tell you something. We set benchmarks. We set benchmarks because it has not worked. Every time something happens over there, what he says is, well, we will send American troops; we will send American troops [Page: H2975]
back before they have their time at home. We will extend American troops. The Iraqis have to start to bear this responsibility for themselves, and that is why we are putting it in the bill.
The American people in the last election sent a message. They said we want the Iraqis to solve their own problems in Iraq. The Americans have borne the brunt. We are spending $8.4 billion a month, $2 billion to get people and equipment and supplies over to Iraq, $2 billion a month, 8,000 miles away.
I will tell you what hurts the troops; I will tell you what hurts them. It hurts them when they extend it beyond 13 months or the marines, beyond 7 months. What hurts the troops, if you send the troops back before they have a year at home. That is what hurts the morale of the troops. I am the person that found the 44,000 shortage of body armor in the initial invasion of Iraq. We had troops in danger because they did not have the equipment they needed. We cannot send troops back into combat without
equipment and fully being trained.
Let me just say this in the end. My grandfather's Civil War hat is in my office. He lost his arm in the Civil War fighting for the North, some of you Southerners here. My great-grandmother lived to be 96. I was 6-years-old when she died. She said you are on this Earth to make a difference. We are going to make a difference with this bill. We are going to bring those troops home. We are going to start changing the direction of this great country.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I might consume.
Mr. Speaker, you all know that I have worked over the years very, very [Page: H2977]
closely with Mr. Murtha and our chairman Mr. Obey. I think most would agree that some of us make a significant effort to reach out on both sides of the aisle to solve problems where that is possible.
In this case, we have a major, major disagreement. I do not presume others to be insincere in their disagreement, but I feel very strongly that we must make absolutely certain that we do nothing to undermine the mission of our troops by way of this debate.
There is absolutely no doubt that the message that we will be sending as this bill passes today, in part, will say to the terrorists of the world, including Iraq, that America is not willing to stay and complete the mission.
I rarely refer to newspaper items in addressing the House, but I cannot help but note that the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Atlanta Journal, et cetera, those newspapers all have expressed grave concerns about combining this supplemental funding for a war with huge amounts of pork.
As a result of that, I am going to use an item several times mentioned today as a part of my own close. The item is entitled: ``Retreat and Butter. Are Democrats in the House Voting for Farm Subsidies or Withdrawal from Iraq?''
``Today, the House of Representatives is due to vote on a bill that would grant $25 million to spinach farmers in California. The legislation would also appropriate $75 million for peanut storage in Georgia and $15 million to protect Louisiana rice fields from saltwater. More substantially, there is $120 million for shrimp and menhaden fishermen, $250 million for milk subsidies, $500 million for wildfire suppression and $1.3 billion to build levees in New Orleans.
``Altogether the House Democratic leadership has come up with more than $20 billion in new spending, much of it wasteful subsidies to agriculture or pork barrel projects aimed at individual Members of Congress. At the tail of all this log rolling,'' and by the way I would not use this next phrase so that Mr. Obey knows that, ``log rolling and political bribery lies this stinger: Representatives who support the bill, for whatever reason, will be voting to require that all U.S. combat
troops leave Iraq by August 2008, regardless of what happens during the next 17 months or whether U.S. commanders believe a pullout at that moment protects or endangers U.S. national security, not to mention the thousands of American trainers and Special Forces troops who would remain behind.
``The Democrats claim to have a mandate from voters to reverse the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. Yet the leadership is ready to piece together the votes necessary to force a fateful turn in the war by using tactics usually dedicated to highway bills or the Army Corps of Engineers budget. The legislation pays more heed to a handful of peanut farmers than to the 24 million Iraqis who are living through a maelstrom initiated by the United States, the outcome of which could shape the future
of the Middle East for decades.
``Congress can and should play a major role in determining how and when the war ends. Political benchmarks for the Iraqi Government are important, provided they are not unrealistic or inflexible. Even dates for troop withdrawals might be helpful, if they are cast as goals rather than requirements, and if the timing derives from the needs of Iraq, not the U.S. election cycle. The Senate's version of the supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan contains nonbinding benchmarks and a withdrawal
date that is a goal; that approach is more likely to win broad support and avoid a White House veto.
``As it is, House Democrats are pressing a bill that has the endorsement of MoveOn.org but excludes the judgment of the U.S. commanders who would have to execute the retreat the bill mandates. It would heap money on unneedy dairy farmers while provoking a constitutional fight with the White House that could block the funding to equip troops in the field. Democrats who want to force a withdrawal should vote against war appropriations. They should not seek to use pork to buy a majority for an unconditional
retreat that the majority does not support.''
At this point, I include for the Record the Statement of Administration Policy.
Statement of Administration Policy, H.R. 1591--U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act
(Sponsor: Obey (D), Wisconsin)
The Administration strongly opposes the ``U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.'' The Administration seeks prompt enactment of the President's request to support our armed forces and diplomatic corps as they implement the new strategy to achieve America's strategic objective of a democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war on terror.
This legislation would substitute the mandates of Congress for the considered judgment of our military commanders. This bill assumes and forces the failure of the new strategy even before American commanders in the field are able to fully implement their plans. Regardless of the success our troops are achieving in the field, this bill would require their withdrawal. In addition, the bill could withhold resources needed to enable Iraqi Security Forces to take over missions currently conducted
by American troops. Many policy makers agree that the Iraqi Security Forces must assume responsibility in defending Iraqi democracy, and it is unconscionable that funds for the Iraqi Security Forces be subject to conditions that may threaten our full support. These Congressional mandates would place freedom and democracy in Iraq at grave risk, embolden our enemies, and undercut the Administration's plan to develop the Iraqi Security Forces and the Iraqi economy. This bill would impose inappropriate, operationally unsound, and arbitrary constraints on how the Department of Defense should prepare units to deploy. Prohibiting the deployment of
units to combat unless a Chief of Service certifies the units as fully mission-capable 15 days prior to deployment is unnecessary, since the Department of Defense will not send into battle troops that are not fully capable of performing their assigned missions. It is unwise to codify in law specific deployment and dwell times,
since this would artificially limit the flexibility of our commanders to conduct operations in the field and infringe on the President's constitutional authority as Commander in Chief to manage the readiness and availability of the Armed Forces. If this legislation were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.
The war supplemental should remain focused on the needs of the troops and should not be used as a vehicle for added non-emergency spending and policy proposals, especially domestic proposals, that should be fully vetted and considered on their own merits, such as minimum wage, various tax proposals, and changes in contracting policy. This bill adds billions in unrequested spending that is largely unjustified and non-emergency. Because of the excessive and extraneous non-emergency spending it
contains, if this legislation were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.
Congress should reject this legislation, and promptly send the President a responsible bill that provides the funding and flexibility our troops need, without holding funding for the troops hostage to unrelated spending.
The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee's version of the bill.
Title I--Global war on terror
Base Realignment and Closure. The Administration submitted a budget amendment on March 9, 2007, that would fully offset the $3.1 billion shortfall needed to implement the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Including this funding as an emergency request without offsets is inappropriate and unnecessary. The Administration urges passage of its request instead.
Additionally, the Administration opposes any amendment to the bill that would alter the approved recommendations of the 2005 BRAC Commission. The BRAC process, as authorized by Congress, requires that both the President and Congress approve or disapprove the Commission's recommendations in their entirety to allow the process to remain apolitical. Legislating a specific change to a BRAC Commission recommendation would adversely affect the integrity of the BRAC 2005 process.
Operation and Maintenance (O&M). The Administration objects to cuts of almost $1.9 billion for priority O&M activities while increasing areas less critical to the war effort. Such reductions (including reductions for contracting) could damage the military's ability to execute wartime operations and the readiness of U.S. forces as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq. The Administration urges Congress to support the President's amended request.
In addition, the bill does not fund the President's $350 million request for training, equipping, transporting, and sustaining our partners in the Global War on Terror. Our allies are critical to our success in combating extremists across the globe and providing this support reduces the burden on U.S. forces. We strongly urge the House to restore these funds.
General Transfer Authority (GTA). The Administration appreciates the Committee's approval of the requested $3.5 billion in GTA for this bill, but urges that GTA for the FY 2007 DOD Appropriations Act be increased from $4.5 billion to $8.0 billion, as included in the March 9 revised request. This increase is essential for the Department of Defense to [Page: H2978]
reallocate funds to sustain critical operations and to address the needs of our field commanders.
International Affairs Programs. The Administration commends the Committee for providing the President's request for important international affairs funding for avian influenza, assistance to Afghanistan and Lebanon, peacekeeping in Somalia, Chad, and East Timor, and unanticipated needs to help relieve human suffering, including in Sudan and other parts of Africa.
While the Administration appreciates the House's support of the request for Iraq-related funding, it objects to the reductions to Iraq assistance programs and Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) expansion. The bill reduces funding for democracy programs, building national capacity, strengthening local governing capacity and delivery of essential services, creating jobs to help
stabilize the country, and supporting Iraqi rule of law programs--the very things that must be done for Iraq to become self-reliant and assume responsibilities from the United States. The reduction in funding for PRT expansion will also impede our ability to get civilians into PRTs to support Iraqis at the local level. The Administration also opposes the reductions to the request for Kosovo which could inhibit our effort to support economic growth, security, and political stability during and
after the resolution of its status. Given the reductions to Iraq and Kosovo, the Administration is especially concerned that the House bill provides over $600 million in unrequested international programs. The House is urged to redirect funds from unrequested programs to fully fund the Iraq and Kosovo requests.
The Administration also does not support section 1905 of the bill, which establishes a Presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed position to oversee Iraq assistance programs. This position is not necessary since the Secretary of State has already appointed a coordinator for reconstruction.
The Administration also opposes the $2.5 billion in unrequested emergency funding provided to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This funding does not meet the standard for emergency funding and should be considered within the regular annual appropriations process.
Title II--Hurricane recovery
Department of Homeland Security. The bill provides the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Texas with a 100-percent Federal match for FEMA public and individual assistance related to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Dennis and would eliminate the prohibition on forgiving Community Disaster Loans. The bill also extends utility assistance for an additional 12 months. The Administration opposes a waiver of the State match requirement. The Administration also notes that the Administration
is funding, at the President's direction, 90 percent of Gulf Coast rebuilding costs for public infrastructure and that the Federal Government has provided--following negotiations with the State governments of Louisiana and Mississippi--sufficient Community Development Block Grant funding to meet the Federal match requirements for Louisiana and Mississippi, in essence federally funding 100 percent of such costs.
Corps of Engineers. The Administration opposes the $1.3 billion in unrequested funding the bill provides to address increased costs for certain ongoing levee restoration projects that were provided supplemental funding in P.L. 109-234. These funds are unnecessary because the Administration proposed FY 2007 supplemental language to allow the Corps to reallocate $1.3 billion of previously appropriated emergency funding to address these needs. The Administration plans to consider the need for additional
funding once the Corps completes its revised cost estimates for all planned work this summer.
The Administration urges the House of Representatives to strike provisions of the bill that infringe upon the President's constitutional authorities, interfere with the President's ability to conduct diplomatic, military, and intelligence activities or supervise the unitary executive branch effectively, or violate the constitutional principle of separation of powers, such as sections 1311, 1314(c)(1), 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 4403(c), and 5004(b) and language in title I relating to committee approval
under the headings in chapter 7 for ``Military Construction, Army'' and ``Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps'' and in chapter 8 under the heading ``Diplomatic and Consular Programs.'' The Administration notes that, while the legislation includes authority to waive restrictions relating to readiness and deployment periods (sections 1901, 1902, and 1903), it does not include authority
to waive the all-or-nothing restrictions relating to benchmarks for performance of the Iraqi government. Moreover, several provisions of the bill purport to require approval of the Committees prior to the obligation of funds. These provisions should be changed to require only notification of Congress, since any other interpretation would contradict the Supreme Court's ruling in INS v. Chadha.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, I think the moment is here, a moment that we have been debating over the last 2 1/2 months and an issue that I think the American people care deeply about.
It is an historic moment, and I thought to myself this morning how will history judge what it is that we are doing on the floor of the House today. What will they write 50 years from now about the decisions that we are making here today?
When I handed Ms. Pelosi, our new Speaker, the gavel back in January, I said that the battle of ideas should be fought on the floor of the House, but as we do it, we should respect each other's opinion. We can disagree without being disagreeable.
I have great respect for Mr. Murtha and Mr. Obey, those that have brought this bill to the floor today, along with Mr. Young and Mr. Lewis, and we should respect all of our opinions and each other's opinions when we get into this difficult decision.
All of us wish that Iraq had gone better. We all wish that the mistakes had not been made and that the terrorists would not have shown up and made this a central front in our war with them.
The fact is, we are in Iraq. We are in the midst of a fight with an enemy that is just not in Iraq, that is all over the world, and we are there. You begin to think about the bill that we have before us to pay for the war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq. Somehow we have room for $10 billion worth of nonmilitary spending.
I don't need to go through all the details for the money for spinach, the money for the Capitol Hill power plant. That is a real emergency, things that don't belong in this bill.
But I think all of us know what the greater issue is here, and the bigger issue. That is that the ideas of our friend from Pennsylvania, to put his benchmarks in there, which are very different than the benchmarks that I proposed. The benchmarks I proposed were to measure progress, for trying to help ensure that we win. The benchmarks I see in this bill are intended to bring about failure, to bring about stumbles.
If you look at all of the handcuffs, all of the hoops and hurdles that are in here, I believe there is only one outcome, only one outcome if we support all this brings and the handcuffs, and that outcome is failure. I don't believe that failure in Iraq is an option. There is a lot riding on this.
Just think for a moment what signal, what signal this sends to our enemies. What does it say to them, we are not willing to stand behind our troops, that there is a hard deadline out there, that we are going to withdraw our troops; what signal does it send to them?
Our enemies understand what happened in Vietnam. When this Congress voted to cut off funding, we left Vietnam. We left chaos and genocide in the streets of Vietnam because we pulled the troops out and didn't have the will to win.
Our enemies know what happened in 1983 after the Marine barracks were bombed in Lebanon, and we pulled out. What did we see? Chaos and genocide all through Lebanon, and continuing to this day. Then in 1993, we decided to pull out of Somalia; left chaos and genocide in our wake that continues to this day.
Who doesn't believe, who doesn't believe that if we go down this path, we are going to leave chaos and genocide in Iraq, and we are going to tell our enemies all around the world that you can take on the United States, you can push them to the edge? At the end of the day, they will just go home.
The spread of radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to our Nation and is a threat to the free world, not just in the Middle East. They are in Asia, they are in Europe, they are in Africa. Cells are growing right here in America, people dedicated to killing Americans, killing our allies, and ending freedom and wanting to impose some radical Islamic law on the entire world.
I ask you, what are we to do, just walk away from the fight? What message does this action that we take [Page: H2979]
today, what does it send, what kind of message does it send to our allies, to people who have worked with us over the course of the last 50 years, 100 years, to bring freedom around the world, to end tyranny around the world? What message do we send to them, that we are there as long as it doesn't get too tough?
Think about what Franklin Roosevelt must have felt like in the midst of World War II when things weren't going so well either in Europe or over in the South Pacific. I am sure there was a big debate here in Congress, the same way, same time. But Franklin Roosevelt knew that the world had no choice but to stop Imperial Japan and to stop Hitler's Germany, because he knew that the consequences of failure in World War II were going to lead to more tyranny and less freedom all around the world. He
didn't shrink from that challenge.
But more importantly, think about what this message sends to our troops. Our troops are on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan doing their duty to protect freedom and to end tyranny. They are there watching this debate that we are having in the House today and wondering, will Congress do its duty? Will Congress stand up and support the mission that I am in?
Think about the soldiers right this moment who are on a mission somewhere in Baghdad trying to bring safety and security to those people while this debate goes on and this vote is about to occur as to whether we are going to support what they are doing. This is an important moment.
Our forefathers, our forefathers had this moment many times before. Whether it was George Washington or Abraham Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War, when it wasn't going very well, they had a decision to make. Was failure an option for any of them? No, it wasn't.
I know this is difficult, and I know there are deeply held opinions on both sides of the aisle and amongst both sides of the aisle, but I would ask all of my colleagues, is failure an option? Do we want to give victory a chance?
We sent General Petraeus over there, 84-0, was confirmed by the Senate. The plan is under way. What this bill will do will be to undercut his opportunity at success.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to say to you that we have no choice but to win, because if we fail in Iraq, you will see the rise even further and faster of radical Islamic terrorism all around the world. We will see chaos in Baghdad. We will see genocide there. We will provide safe haven for our enemies. We will destabilize the moderate Arab countries in the Middle East. If anybody doesn't believe that this won't end Israel as I know it, you are kidding yourself. If you don't believe that these
terrorists won't come here and fight us on the streets of America instead of the streets of Baghdad, I think you are kidding yourself.
So we have our moment of truth. We have our opportunity to do what our forefathers have done, and that is to stand up, support our troops and to win, because the outcome of failure is actually too ominous to even think about.
So I ask my colleagues today, let's not vote for spinach, let's not vote for more money for the power plant and all the other silly things in here. We all know what this bill is about, and it is about whether we have got the courage to give victory a chance, or whether we are just going to bring our troops home and give up.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
Mr. Speaker, I regret that the minority leader has chosen to trivialize one item in this bill, which represents our direct responsibility to people who work in the most outrageous conditions on Capitol Hill. Roll Call itself, in describing the funding that we have in this bill on the Capitol heating plant, which the majority leader just trivialized, wrote that ``what we have on our hands is a `horrific scandal'. The working environment for the 10-member Capitol tunnel shop team resembles that
One of our own Republican colleagues in this House is mentioned in the editorial as describing the conditions in that heating plant as, quote, ``inhumane and unprofessional,'' and said of the tunnel workers, that they are ``probably going to end up dying because of their exposure to asbestos.''
The money in this bill is for cleaning up the asbestos problem, which people in that tunnel have to work in every day. I make no apology whatsoever for providing that funds. The minority leader ought to be standing side by side with us to meet our obligations to clean up that mess. I am surprised he doesn't recognize that.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Patrick J. Murphy).
Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Thank you to the gentleman from Wisconsin.
Mr. Speaker, there are 435 Members of Congress, and I know there are many people on the other side of the aisle who don't know who I am. I am PATRICK MURPHY, and I am from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Back home, my wife and my daughter Maggie are watching, probably on C-SPAN right now.
Over 13 years ago, I wore the United States Army uniform for the first time. I was able to live the American dream. I was able to rise through the ranks and become a captain and a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. We had a saying in the Army: Lead, follow or get out of the way.
Well, in the past 4 years, the Republican-led Congress followed. They had their chance, and they followed lockstep as this President led our country into an open-ended commitment refereeing a religious civil war.
For the last 4 years, this Republican Congress followed lockstep as my fellow soldiers continued to die in Iraq without a clear mission, without benchmarks to determine success, without a clear timeline for coming home. In the last 4 years, the Republican Congress followed this President as thousands of brave American soldiers returned home in coffins with our American flag. Nineteen of those coffins had soldiers that I served with in Iraq, 19 paratroopers.
Mr. Speaker, with this bill, with this vote, we mark the end of that error.
Many of the 49 new freshmen, both Democrats and Republicans, were elected a few months ago on the promise of new leadership, and that is what this bill does. It leads our way out of Iraq. It leads the way to rebuild our overextended Army, and leads the way to win the war on terror.
To those on the other side of the aisle who are opposed, I want to ask you the same questions that my gunner asked me when I was leading a convoy up and down Ambush Alley one day. He said, ``Sir, what are we doing over here? What's our mission? When are these Iraqis going to come off the sidelines and stand up for their own country?''
So to my colleagues across the aisle, your taunts about supporting our troops ring hollow if you are still unable to answer those questions now 4 years later.
Mr. Speaker, to vote ``no'' on this bill is to stand idly by, to let our commitment to Iraq remain open-ended and to let countless more American soldiers be killed in the sands of al-Anbar and the streets of Baghdad.
Short-term political peril may sidestep those who cast their vote for the status quo, but our children's history books will not treat them kindly, nor should they.
Mr. Speaker, the 110th Congress will be judged whether we have the political courage to put forth a plan to restore accountability and oversight, to bring our troops home from Iraq and, most importantly, to win the war on terror.
This is our opportunity. This is our chance to lead. For too long, the American people have been craving leadership, craving accountability and craving a new direction in Iraq. Let's give that to them today.
Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Thank you, Members. NANCY, JOHN, DAVID, I appreciate you all.
I rise today in support of a clean emergency spending bill for our troops, but this one is all smoke and mirrors. We must give our men and women in uniform everything they need to thwart the insurgency in Iraq and come home safely and soon. [Page: H2980]
You know, we can't tie the hands of the guys on the ground with time lines or benchmarks. And, worse, we shouldn't be using the emergency troop spending bill as the way to finance the political gimmickry of special interest projects. It is just exasperating that the Democrat leaders have turned the emergency troop spending bill into a pork barrel project giveaway.
This bill gives piles of money to shrimpers, spinach farmers, and peanut storage. You know, what does throwing money at Bubba Gump, Popeye the Sailorman, and Mr. Peanut have to do with winning a war? Nothing.
The special interest projects added to increase the likelihood of this bill passing are really an insult to the troops who want, need, and deserve our full support. The Democrats are trying to buy the majority vote today one pork project at a time, perhaps because the majority does not support their slow bleed surrender strategy.
Since the President announced his new plan for Iraq in January, there has been measured, steady progress. He changed the rules of engagement and removed political protections. Coalition forces nabbed more than 50 suspects and dismantled a bomb factory in Iraq over the past few days. Coalition forces in Iraq detained seven suspects with reported ties to foreign fighter groups. In Ramadi, troops nabbed four other suspects with alleged ties to al Qaeda. In Mosul, coalition forces captured a former
paramilitary leader who allegedly is responsible for setting up al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Iraq and Syria. During another operation, troops captured a suspected terrorist with alleged ties to al Qaeda car bomb and assassination cells.
We must seize this opportunity to move forward and not stifle future success and harm troop morale.
More importantly, I want to know, how many of you have ever asked your constituents, Do you want to lose in Iraq? I think if you ask that question, do you want to lose in Iraq, Americans will wholeheartedly say no.
We have smart, strong men and women serving in Iraq, and they need our help, and they need the full support of their country and their Congress.
Our troops don't need 435 generals in Washington declaring, we will send you money for bullets, but we won't send you bulletproof vests. Our troops don't need folks in suits sitting in wood paneled rooms on Capitol Hill saying, we will send you armored tanks, but we won't send you gas.
Literally, this bill forces our guys on the ground to fight a war with one arm tied behind their backs. That just smacks of defeat.
Most of you in the Chamber know that I spent nearly 7 years as a prisoner in Vietnam, more than half of that time in solitary. Well, that was during my second tour in Vietnam. During my first tour, I worked for General Westmoreland at MAC-V Headquarters, that is the Military Assistance Command Vietnam.
While working late at night, we had a bunch of men involved in the first real hand-to-hand combat using bayonets. You may remember that, JOHN. That was war. It turns out someone sent back footage to Washington that would match the opening scene of ``Saving Private Ryan.'' In the middle of the night, the red phone rang and I answered it. I heard an earful that is not fit for this House Chamber, something like, This is the White House. What the heck is going on over there? I replied, I'll
wake up General Westmoreland. They slammed the phone down and hung up. That was the control they had over our guys.
Starting in 1965, we had folks in Washington trying to tell the generals how to run things on the ground in Vietnam. A generation ago, we saw what happens when you stop the funding and America stiffs its friends. As a matter of fact, we all know just this morning Iran captured 15 British sailors. This bill prevents us from responding from Kuwait to help our strong allies of British in an emergency. We show weakness, and the world knows it.
Just think back to the dark day in history when we saw visions of American marines airlifting Vietnamese out of the U.S. embassy. You remember that. That is what happens when America makes a commitment; Congress cuts the funding, and we go home with our tails between our legs.
The brave marines who died on that day in 1975 while innocent people desperately clung to life on a rope tied to a helicopter are a testimony to what happens when Congress cuts the funding and we leave without finishing the job.
We can't let that happen again. And I don't think any of you on either side in this Chamber wants that to happen. Frankly, we all want our troops to come home, when the job is done. We want to win. Internationally announcing our timelines for withdrawal literally hands the enemy our war plan and gives them hope that they will win if they just wait it out. What world superpower would do such a thing?
We are the United States of America. We are the premier military force on the globe. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. Surely we do not go around announcing to the world how we will conduct and win a war. Surrendering is not an option, and neither do I think abandoning our troops is an option.
Look around you. We are all America. Do you want to lose in Iraq? Voting to set a hard exit date for U.S. troops in Iraq and imposing strict standards for deploying forces gives hope to the enemy, and it is a prescription for failure. Worse, forcing Members of Congress to decide on this issue when the bill is cluttered with excess money for spinach and peanuts is abhorrent, infuriating, and ill-advised.
My dear colleagues, if you really want to debate the merits of a time withdrawal, give each Member in Congress an up or down vote so we can vote our conscience. The sweeteners in this bill are political bribery, and our troops deserve more than this.
Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot abandon our men and women in uniform for politically charged benchmarks wrapped up in fat-cat constituent projects. If we learned anything from the brave Marines who died trying to save innocent people that day at the embassy in Vietnam, and JOHN, you know this, it is that the marines never quit. Neither should we.