Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you, some days it is very interesting to watch what happens in a place like this. This is the most serious issue that this Congress will confront this year, and this motion is addressing that issue in the most unserious manner possible. This motion is presented by the distinguished ranking minority member of the committee, and then he says he is going to vote against his own motion. I would like for a moment to remind the body of what this House is supposed
The core purpose of this Congress, the main reason for its existence is to deal with issues like this. Today, the United States Congress is supposedly regarded as the greatest deliberative body in the world. We exist today, if we remember our history, we exist today because almost 800 years ago our British forefathers placed the first limitation on the absolute use of executive power in the history of the English speaking world when they forced the English monarch to sign the Magna Carta.
Over 500 years later, that evolved into the United States Constitution, which created three branches of government, with checks and balances designed to prevent arbitrary and unilateral exercise of unchecked executive power in order to protect liberty.
Because of that Constitution, and under the procedures defined by that Constitution, we are here in the fifth year of a war which this country was led into under false premises. And we are debating how the Congress should respond to the President's escalation and intensification of our involvement in an Iraqi civil war. We are also debating his request for another hundred billion dollars to continue that war.
He is also asking for billions of dollars in additional spending for other domestic and international activities, including flood control, nutrition programs, education and cultural exchanges, disease control in Southeast Asia, and salaries for U.S. marshals. The majority of both Houses have voted to try to bring about a change in direction in that war. We believe, at least those of us who supported the bill two weeks ago, we believe that our soldiers won the war that they were asked to wage,
but that it is unrealistic to expect them to do something that they have no power to do, which is to force Iraqi politicians to make political compromises necessary to end the carnage in that country.
By this bill, we are attempting to put enough pressure on those Iraqi politicians and those Iraqi factions to make the compromises necessary to allow our troops to end their involvement in that civil war. And to do that, we have in the legislation now before us conditioned our continued presence in Iraq on Iraq's meeting certain performance benchmarks, which were first laid out by the President himself.
This motion, which has now been offered by the gentleman, is an example, I think, of people falling off both sides of the same horse at the same time because we have people who say they don't want us to put limits on the President's conduct of the war, now insisting that in fact we adhere to the very proposals that we passed just 2 weeks ago.
I want to say that this is, I think, despite the fact that it is an unserious motion, I intend to accept it because it is simply, in essence, a re-vote of what the House committed itself to 2 weeks ago.
The reason we have timelines in this bill is because we want to give General Petraeus the ability to use Congress as sort of a bad cop/good cop routine in order to convey to the Iraqi politicians that they must resolve their differences if they expect us to remain there for any significant length of time at all. There is no way that we can create that kind of pressure on Iraqi politicians unless we maintain the proposals that we made in this House bill.
The President wants none of these limitations to pass. I find it interesting that people who say that we should proceed to compromise are now offering a motion which in essence tells us not to compromise. In the end, we know that both sides are going to have to compromise; but in the interest of getting us to conference so that we can begin that long arduous process, which I fear will take many months, I am going to accept the motion of the gentleman, even though I regard it as a very quaint
way to move to a position of compromise between the President and the Congress.
Mr. Speaker, with that, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize for 3 minutes the gentleman from California, the former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, DUNCAN HUNTER.
Mr. HUNTER. I want to thank my friend, Mr. Lewis, for giving me a chance to talk about this supplemental bill, this very bad bill, once again.
Mr. Speaker, I have carefully reviewed the language on page 72 of this bill with our counsel as to the exact legal effect of this bill. This bill says that an American unit cannot be introduced into Iraq until a 15-day waiting period has expired. Now, what does that mean? That means if you have hostages being held in a place in Iraq and you want to move a Delta force team across the line, you can't do that for 15 days under the law, should this become law. It says if you have a fleeting target,
like the Zarqawi strike that we made a couple of months ago, and time is of the essence and you want to take an F-16 out of Incirlik, Turkey and make a strike, you can't do it without waiting for 15 days after notifying the House Armed Services Committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and presumably the Appropriations Committee.
Mr. Speaker, if we have an extreme situation in Iraq where Americans have to be rescued or reinforced, I don't want them to come back and notify me [Page: H3667]
or notify the committee. I want them to do what they have to do and carry out their mission.
This is a very defective bill, and this 15-day waiting requirement in this war against terror where time is of the essence, where American military teams move across country boundaries every day without certifying anything to anybody, this is a real disservice to the forces that work not only in Iraq, but should this be applied to other parts of the world in a future time would be a real disservice to everybody who fights in the war against terror.
I strongly support the motion of the gentleman from California.
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the distinguished chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee, Mr. Murtha.
Mr. MURTHA. This Appropriation Committee will have appropriated $1.2 trillion for this war and for the Defense Department in one year. When I came to Congress, we had appropriated $100 billion for defense for the whole year.
We keep talking about progress; that's what the military leaders in Iraq talk about. I wish we saw progress.
I voted for this war because I believed that our Nation was threatened. Two or three weeks later, I realized that we weren't under any threat; we were misled. There was no threat to our national security. We went in with inadequate forces. I'm the one that found the lack of body armor, 44,000 troops without body armor, without armored Humvees; and now 4 years later, we're arguing about timelines where the Iraqis ought to take over the war themselves. We're arguing about allowing the Iraqis to
do what the President agreed to. And we want to set a timetable so that they are forced to agree to it. There is no question in my mind every time the Iraqis stumble, the United States steps in and puts our American troops in between the civil war.
I just visited Fort Hood, Fort Stewart and Fort Bragg. The troops are somber. The troops are going to do their job. They're valiant. I am inspired by the troops. But let me tell you, they're burned out. In the schools in Fort Bragg they say they need counseling. In the schools of Fort Bragg they say there's higher truancy. They say the students' achievement has dropped. You know who's suffering? We talk about fighting this war. We're not fighting this war. A very small segment of this population
is fighting this war, and they're burned out. I've had troop commanders who were there three times say, we can only spend 10 months in combat and we start making bad decisions; and I believe that.
They say there's progress, and I've just seen over 200 killed in 2 days. We've lost more Americans in the last 4 months than any other period during this war. That's not progress. The electricity production is below prewar level. Production of oil is below prewar level. How do you measure? Rhetoric doesn't measure progress.
In my estimation, this war has been so mishandled. Congress has an obligation to set a standard, to have accountability. And this bill is called the Iraqi Accountability bill, and that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to hold this administration accountable for the mistakes that they have made.
Does anybody know we have 125,000 contractors in Iraq? 125,000. And when we pointed this out to the Secretary of Defense, do you know what he said? He said, ``They're making more money than I make.''
The Secretary of Defense said these contractors are making more money than he makes, 125,000 of them. They couldn't tell the committee for 2 months how many contractors they had.
They have got a fellow fueling a truck on one side, and he's making $25,000, and right beside him is a guy making $80,000 fueling a truck. Why is that? Are we meeting our recruiting standards when we need 125,000 people that are contractors in Iraq riding around shooting people, as I saw in the Washington Post the other day, shooting inadvertently at people? They want to kill somebody, this one guy said? That's the face of America? We've lost credibility because of some of these contractors and
the actions of these contractors.
I say we need to set timelines. We need to set a benchmark. We need to say to the Iraqis, it's time for you to take over and decide your own fate, like we did in our own revolution.
I ask Members to vote for this benchmark set by the gentleman from California.
Mr. HOEKSTRA. I thank my colleague for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, today our Nation is engaged in a struggle with a brutal and cold-blooded enemy, cold-blooded killers. These are the kinds of folks who will kill people on an airplane and fly it into buildings. They will drive a car through a checkpoint, step out of the car, leave the kids in the back seat, and blow it up. They will attack civilians rather than military targets.
It is utter folly to believe that by establishing timelines and saying we are going to pull out today or at some specified date in the future, to believe that by doing that they will evaporate and they will leave us alone.
Maybe it is another good cop-bad cop type of ploy being employed by individuals on the other side of the aisle when the majority leader in the other body today declares the war is lost, conceding that al Qaeda has won. Is the other side willing to concede that al Qaeda has won in Iraq, that they have won in Algeria, that they have won in Morocco, that they have won in Afghanistan and that they have won in Pakistan?
When do they believe is the most appropriate time to confront the enemy that we face today, if we are not willing to confront them in Iraq, if we are not willing to confront them in northern Africa and the other parts of the Middle East or Asia? Are we going to once again wait until they come to the United States?
This is hard and it is tough, but these are cold-blooded, ruthless killers. It is probably inappropriate to call this a war, because the people that we're fighting don't deserve the term of ``soldier'' or ``warriors.'' They are outlaws, they are criminals, and we cannot concede this to them, like the majority leader in the other body did today. Today, he sent a powerful signal to the rest of the world and to our allies that al Qaeda has won and we have lost. How will our allies respond to that
This motion to recommit is at least a little bit better in that it says we haven't lost, but we're willing to soon surrender and give up this fight. It is a fight that we can't afford to lose. It is a fight that we need to win.
Take a look at what they said. This is in their playbook. Defeat this motion to recommit.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank the gentleman from California for the time.
Mr. Speaker, whether or not some choose to acknowledge it, we are at war with militant Islamists who seek our destruction. Yet some on the other side of the aisle today announced that the war is lost in Iraq. This comment shows little understanding of the ability and the determination of our men and women in the Armed Forces.
Naysayers and those who doubt our Nation's ability to prevail over evil have existed throughout the centuries, and it appears that there are those who doubt the ability of this century's greatest generation to defeat these Islamist militant extremists operating in Iraq.
Our mission is just. The soldier cannot be separated from his mission. All I have to do is look to the inspiration of the Parsons brothers from my congressional district, who are serving in Iraq. They know that we must and indeed we can succeed.
Huber Parsons was with the 101st Airborne for two long Iraq deployments. He is currently on his third deployment with the Army Stryker Brigade. His twin brother, Bill, has served two tours in Afghanistan and two tours in Iraq. And their little brother, Charlie, is on his first deployment in Iraq. All three brothers are deployed in Iraq right now.
I ask for the Parsons brothers and for all of our brave men and women serving our Nation in Iraq that we not put them at increased risk with these arbitrary, artificial deadlines.
My stepson, Douglas, and my daughter-in-law, Lindsay, both served in Iraq as Marine fighter pilots, and tomorrow Lindsay will be deploying to Afghanistan to continue her military service.
Arbitrary deadlines and the consequences of retreating and failure are personal issues for me. Establishing arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal of our forces before Iraq is stable and secure gives the insurgents, as well as the Islamic extremist terrorists, a roadmap, a how-to guide, on how to defeat the United States, our Iraqi partners and other coalition forces in Iraq. Our troops understand this. Our enemies understand this. Our allies understand it; we must as well.
We met with Egyptian leader Mubarak just 2 weeks ago in a bipartisan congressional delegation, and this is what he told us: ``Withdrawing from Iraq without creating stability will mean that the U.S. will suffer and all of us in the region will suffer. I know how these terrorists think,'' Mubarak said to us, ``and they will come after you and then come after us.''
He continued by saying, ``The way to control Iran is for the U.S. to succeed in stabilizing Iraq. Withdrawal of your forces in Iraq without making Iraq stable will strengthen Iran and will cause you harm and will cause all of us harm.''
Mr. Speaker, we either stand now against the Islamic militant jihadists operating in Iraq or have these militants continue to threaten our men and women fighting the forces that seek our destruction. We cannot leave our troops serving in Iraq or anywhere else vulnerable to the whims of armchair generals in Congress.
Support our troops. Reject this motion.
Mr. SHAYS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.
There is not a Member of Congress who isn't tormented by the war in Iraq. There is not a Member of Congress that has not attended a funeral of a brave man or woman who has lost their life and seen the family's torment. So I just want to say for the record, all of us wrestle with this, Mr. Murtha, as you wrestle with this issue. We come to a different conclusion than you do, but it is as sincere and heartfelt as yours is.
I have been to Iraq 16 times. I try to go every 3 to 4 months. I think we made huge mistakes in 2003. I don't think we turned things around and started to move forward until June of 2004, when we transferred power to the Iraqis. I saw the rest of 2004 and all of 2005 as pretty stunning.
And then in 2006 we had this new government. It took them 4 months to become a government. And as you are going upstream and you are not making progress, you fall behind. The Samarra bombing was a catastrophe. For most of 2006 this government did not take decisive action. But on my last trip, the one we took just a few weeks ago, I started to see something that gives me hope, and it runs in the face of the resolution in the supplemental. I am seeing Anbar province turning around because the Iraqi
Sunnis have come to us and said, we want to confront the insurgents in our province.
I spoke to 40 Iraqi soldiers in the Red Zone, not in the marketplace, and asked them, do you feel safe when you go home? Only about three or four told me they didn't feel safe. And, remember, they work 20 days, then they go home for 10. I saw their feeling of safety encouraging.
The Baiji oil refinery, which we took back with five batallions from the Iraqi Security Force is no longer a source of income for the insurgents. We have gotten at the corruption at the refinery; and now, instead of 20 trucks a day, we are having 200 trucks a day, and we feel fairly certain the oil is going to the right places and the insurgents aren't getting these dollars.
I am not against timelines; I am just against timelines in the supplemental. January 1, 2008 is one of them; April 1, 2008 is another; and, if the best happens, September 1, 2008. I am not against a timeline; I am against those timelines.
We need to give the Iraqis timelines that give them the time to resolve their differences. We attacked them; they did not attack us. We abolished all their security forces. How could we possibly leave before we give them the chance to have their Army stand up, their police stand up, their border patrol stand up? We attacked them. It is a moral obligation to give them the opportunity to defend themselves.
If we want to talk about timelines, let's work it out together. Let's establish timelines that give Iraqis time to do what they need to do.
I am voting against this resolution. It is harmful to Iraqis and harmful to Americans.
Mr. HOYER. I thank the chairman for yielding.
Let me first of all say at the outset that I agree with Mr. Murtha. We're not fighting this war. There's nobody in the Congress of the United States that's paying more taxes to pay for this war. There's nobody who's saving on metal to fight this war. There's nobody who's saving on rubber to fight this war. There's nobody whose gasoline is being rationed to fight this war. Our troops are fighting this war, their families are fighting this war, but this Nation is not at war.
There is nobody in this Congress, not one of the 435 Members of this Congress, who wants to lose this war. There is nobody in this House who does not want to defeat al Qaeda. Nobody. Everybody wants to protect this country. Nobody wants to lose another American. Everybody understands that the fight against terrorism will require risks. But, Mr. Speaker, this House deserves more than this game playing of offering motions that we are then going to vote against. In effect, this is a motion to reconsider
the vote by which the previous bill was adopted. It couldn't be made now, but that is effectively what it is. And those who voted against that bill will vote against this motion. The public needs to understand that a serious motion could have been made here to change the policy, but that is not what was done. This is an attempt to try to politically get people in a vote that is going to be characterized as surrender.
Let me call my colleagues' attention to June 24, 1997. Our troops were deployed in Bosnia stopping genocide, seeing a dictator arrested and sent to The Hague and tried for genocide. He died before the trial was over. But let me call your attention to that vote, because that vote was about setting timelines. It was offered by Mr. Buyer, who is now the ranking member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Mr. Buyer offered that motion and we debated it. I was opposed to it. We hadn't
lost a single troop in Bosnia, not one. We had spent a pittance compared to what we have spent here. We have lost [Page: H3670]
10 percent of the troops we have lost in the last 120 days.
Bob Gates said this policy was failing. He's our Secretary of Defense. Or let me put it this way: he didn't say that; he said we were not winning. That's a different way of saying it more accurately. I'm sorry.
But on June 24, 1997, that came to a vote about setting timelines on an effort that was extraordinarily successful, brought peace to the Balkans, or at least a lack of genocide, a lack of ethnic cleansing. But Mr. Buyer said we need to come home. We weren't losing troops, it wasn't costing us that much money, and we certainly were not losing.
On that timeline, Mr. Boehner voted ``yes,'' after 18 months in Bosnia. Not 4 years, 4 years and 1 month. After 18 months, you wanted to set a timeline. Mr. Boehner, your leader, voted ``yes.''
Mr. Blunt, your whip, voted ``yes.'' Mr. Hastert, your former Speaker, voted ``yes.'' Mr. Hunter, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, setting timelines, voted ``yes.'' Mr. Hyde, who was then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, voted ``yes.'' Mr. Hoekstra, who spoke earlier tonight, voted ``yes'' on setting timelines.
And yes, let me remind Mr. Lewis, you voted ``yes.'' You voted ``yes'' on a timeline where we had lost no troops, where we had stopped genocide in its tracks, where we were not threatened with loss of life. All we were threatened with was coming home and not keeping the peace, keeping the stability, trying to make sure that we were successful.
I urge every one of my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this Republican motion. They don't mean it, but to reiterate to the American public that we were serious, that we want to make sure, as Bob Gates has said and been quoted by Mr. Obey and others, this was a useful effort for us to make.
Why? Because what we want to do is make sure the Iraqis at least are fighting this war, making sure that the Iraqis meet the criteria and benchmarks set by whom? By President Bush, not by us. President George Bush, the Commander in Chief, said they need to meet these benchmarks. But if the message we send them is, we're there forever, why meet the benchmarks? Why put their people at risk? If we're all prepared to simply have our men and women at risk in lieu of Iraqi soldiers and police at risk?
We need to expect accountability and participation by those whose country it is. We deposed their dictator and declared some few months later that our mission was accomplished. Unfortunately, because of the flawed policies that were pursued, we have not yet succeeded.
I voted to give the President authority and I disagreed with the gentleman from Pennsylvania when he said in November of 2005, let's get out, not immediately, but consistent with the safety of our troops. But I agree with the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Obey and the overwhelming majority of the American public, some 70 percent, who say it is time to let the Iraqis know that it is their fight, that we have supported them, we will train them, we will protect our troops on the ground,
we will protect our diplomatic missions, and we will give them assistance in arms, but this is their fight now. We are there to help them, but it is their fight.
That's what this says, and it says 15 months from now, not tomorrow. To characterize this as any kind of a surrender is not honest debate, I suggest to you. Because if it is, then your June 24, 1997, which almost all of you voted for, was a cry for surrender. I didn't believe it then, don't believe it now. You had a difference of view as to what would best resolve the situation in Bosnia. Now the issue is Iraq.
My colleagues on my side of the aisle, we took a position with which the overwhelming majority of the American public agree. They are ahead of us on this. Let us once again sustain that position. Nobody on this side of the aisle was not being serious. Nobody on this side of the aisle did not give this very serious, thoughtful, prayerful consideration. And when you voted, you voted for America. When you voted, you voted for our troops. When you voted, you voted for success in our foreign policy
and in our fight against terrorism.
Our friends on the other side of the aisle have offered a motion which they are not for. They could have offered, I suggest, some serious alternatives. They did not.
I urge my colleagues, vote ``yes,'' reaffirm the policy statement that we need a new direction in Iraq. Staying the course has not worked. Let's make a change. Vote ``yes.''
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, it was not my intention to take much time at this moment, but the gentleman who just spoke is my long-term colleague on the Committee on Appropriations. We have worked together for years. He knows full well how strongly I feel about having primary consideration of almost nonpartisanship in defense matters.
At the same time, some time ago, I discussed with the gentleman the importance of our working together in the tradition of the committee. One of the traditions is that our committee does not operate under closed rules.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Burton).
Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Speaker, let me just say to my good friend from California, that in the Revolutionary War they fought for 7 years against the greatest army in the history of the world at that time, ragged, with no shoes, no ammunition, and they outworked them and outfought them because they were on their homeland.
That is what I am saying the Iraqis should do. It is the Iraqis' country. The Americans should not be dying for Iraqis, caught in this civil war.
We have appropriated $1.2 trillion. We have appropriated over $140 billion more than the White House asked for, $140 billion more for the troops, to support the troops. We have given everything they asked for. In this Iraq accountability bill, we give them $4 billion more than the President asked for. We put a strategic reserve in, and we also take care of the health care, the post-traumatic stress. We take care of brain damage. We take care of the troops. We want to make sure the troops have
what they need.
And to go back to the Revolutionary War, my great-grandfather's grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War on the right side and he prevailed. We don't have any letters from him, but we have letters from my great-grandfather who served in the Civil War on the right side, and he talks about how tough it was in the Civil War. But we [Page: H3671]
fought our own Civil War, and my great-grandmother lived to be 96; I was 6 years old, and she said, you are put on this
Earth to make a difference.
We need to make a difference in this Congress, to change the direction of a mishandled war. We need to have oversight and accountability for the $1.2 trillion that we have spent on the Defense Department in 1 year.
Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, we have heard over and over again once again in this debate about all the lies that got us into this war. Let's go back to the lies that got us in this war. And I was really gratified to hear my friend across the aisle, from Ohio, a moment ago refer to a quote from the Bible. In that same book, it constantly talks about forgiveness.
Yes, we heard the administration talk about weapons of mass destruction over and over again, the Secretary of State, but it is high time we moved on. It is time to forgive President Clinton for all those lies. It is time to forgive Madeline Albright for all those lies. It is time to forgive President Bush for being so dadgum gullible that he believed all the stuff that was passed on to him. So let's forgive them and move on.
Now to fulfill, Mr. Speaker, a commitment that I had at the funeral of Travis Buford from Douglas in my district: He died February 22 in Iraq, an IED, and among the tears, as we stood there, it was an open casket, and I asked his mother if there was anything I could do. She said, just tell the Congress to shut up and let the military finish their job. I've done what I said I would.
Mr. OBEY. Then let me yield myself 2 minutes before the gentleman closes.
Mr. Speaker, 2 nights ago I was watching the Public Television series on the Iraq War, and I saw one of the gentlemen who is generally regarded as being one of the intellectual architects of that war, Richard Perle, say the following: ``We do not leave the battlefield with the first casualty.''
I would simply note that an awful lot of people who have never seen a battlefield or been anywhere near one seem to be awfully anxious to make that kind of a statement.
When I heard that comment, I was reminded of a comment of my old friend, the philosopher, Archie the Cockroach, who said once that there is always a comforting thought in time of trouble when it's somebody else's trouble.
But as the gentleman from Pennsylvania has pointed out, there has been no sense of shared sacrifice in this country over this war. The only sacrifice most Americans are being asked to undergo is to take a tax cut.
Well, it seems to me that we ought to start asking whether it is right and indeed whether it is moral to allow a tiny band of American citizenry, military families, to bear the entire burden of this war that so many noncombatants seem to be so enthusiastic about. It seems to me we need to bring about a different policy that will indeed have equal sacrifice.
There are a lot of people who are apparently willing to fight to the last drop of somebody else's blood. I think it is time for that to stop.
We, on this side of the aisle, choose to take seriously the gentleman's motion, even though he himself indicates he does not intend to take his own motion seriously because he intends to vote against it.
I would urge that every Member on this side of the aisle, and I hope on the other side, would take this motion with the deadly seriousness that it deserves. Because lives are at stake. They are the lives of innocent Iraqis and they are the lives of innocent American troops who are simply being asked to carry out a policy which is increasingly futile.
I urge an ``aye'' vote on the gentleman's motion.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.