2:31 PM EDT

Louise Slaughter, D-NY 28th

Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier). All time yielded during consideration of the rule is for debate only.

I yield myself such time as I may consume.

(Ms. SLAUGHTER asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)

GENERAL LEAVE

2:31 PM EDT

Louise Slaughter, D-NY 28th

Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I also ask unanimous consent that all [Page: H2864]

Members be given 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks on House Resolution 261.

2:31 PM EDT

Louise Slaughter, D-NY 28th

Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 261 provides for the consideration of the emergency supplemental, the U.S. Troops Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act. The rule provides 4 hours of general debate in the House equally divided and controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on Appropriations.

The rule waives all points of order against consideration of the bill except for clauses 9 and 10 of rule XXI. The rule provides that the amendment printed in the Rules Committee report shall be considered as adopted. The rule waives all points of order against the bill as amended and provides that the bill, as amended, shall be considered as read. Finally, the rule provides one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

Mr. Speaker, with a deep appreciation for how critical this bill is, the Rules Committee reported out a rule that allows for 4 hours of what will be a full debate. It allows for the consideration of clear and concise legislation that everyone in the Congress is familiar with. It is a responsible rule, and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.

But we are here today to debate much more than procedure, Mr. Speaker. We meet today on the fourth day of the fifth year of the war in Iraq, a conflict that has gone on longer than the Korean War, even longer than the Second World War, that war being fought against the greatest threat to world security.

The scenarios painted by politicians here about the war in Iraq don't affect the men and women fighting it or living it. They actually know what the world for them really is. And what is that reality? This is a war being fought by soldiers who often do not have the equipment they need or the care they are owed. And it is not improving security for the Iraqi people. It is depleting our military and endangering the security of this Nation; and that is to this day based on a flawed strategy that

desperately needs to be changed.

Under such circumstances, for this Congress to support an open-ended commitment to this conflict, passing yet another blank check as past Congresses have done, would be a dereliction of duty. By contrast, passing a bill that has a chance of changing a stagnant situation in Iraq is not micromanaging; it is living up to what we owe our soldiers and the Iraqi people, to give them a fighting chance for success.

The supplemental makes America's continued involvement in Iraq conditional on the situation there improving. America's soldiers will no longer be asked to fight in an open-ended war whose goal line keeps moving. The bill would require Iraqi leaders to make the political compromises necessary to produce a working government, or risk losing the American military support. It will require the President's own security benchmarks to be met if American soldiers are to continue sacrificing their safety

for that goal. And it will be the first step toward ending the war.

Ending this flawed conflict is crucial not just for Iraq, but also for the future of our own military and, hence, to our own national security.

This Congress was aghast when it learned of the conditions of Walter Reed. But every day, the men and women of our military are suffering beyond reason. Let me briefly share one story with you that I recently heard, the story of a young lieutenant awaiting his second deployment to Iraq.

His first tour saw him bravely patrolling dangerous streets north of Baghdad. He returned last December, expecting a year on base during which to rest and train a new platoon. Instead, with the escalation in place, he will be heading back months sooner. The soldiers under his command are not getting the time they need to train properly for their mission. The vehicles and equipment they use to train for war are failing and often break. They are physically weary, many still suffering from the lingering

effects of leg and back injuries. Others are in counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of the soldiers who were married before the war are now divorced. Their lives outside the conflict are coming apart.

This lieutenant and his soldiers personify sacrifice. They never complain. When those in the military are given a mission, he told me, they find a way to complete it. That creed is why our Armed Forces are so strong.

But what this officer did tell me is that our Armed Forces cannot go on like this. He said that we are in danger of destroying our system of national defense. We see soldiers being sent back tour after tour, some too injured to wear the body armor. Our services are desperately trying to find a way to meet new troop requirements, sending back the wounded.

Mr. Speaker, this war is a dramatic misuse of our military. In the name of our national security, it is undermining the only true guarantor of national security that we have, our Armed Forces. And for years this Congress has let it happen, but not anymore.

Today the House will finally recognize that our military is at the breaking point, not because of any inherent weakness, but because it is being asked to complete a flawed mission. And so that mission itself must change.

Let me add as well that while our soldiers may stoically bear the burdens of short leaves and shoddy equipment, that in no way means that we in Congress should allow it to happen.

This bill respects our men and women in uniform enough to put their needs at the forefront of national priorities. From now on, if they are asked to go into battle without being fully armored, fully rested, and fully trained, then the President himself will have to stand before them, look them in the eye, and explain why he thinks our national safety is worth that level of sacrifice.

The legislation will also provide desperately needed funds for veterans' health care. Our country is seeing more wounded soldiers returning from abroad than at any point in 40 years, and yet our health care system has failed thousands of them. It is unconscionable, and it is long past time that that state of affairs is radically changed.

And, finally, this bill both increases funding for the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and for a variety of other critically important national security objectives. Taken together, it represents the beginning of what will be a responsible and ethical shift in our national security priorities away from a war in Iraq that we can't end and back towards where it ought to be.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is the first real chance that Democrats have had since 2003 to change the course of the war in Iraq, and we intend to do it. We will do it not because we are conceding anything to those who would do our Nation harm, not because we lack the will to fight for security, and not because, as some would have you believe, we are giving up. With this first step, we will change the course of this war because the future of the people of America depends on it, because a basic

level of respect for our soldiers demands it, and because the long-term security of our Nation requires it.

This is an important and historic bill, and I am proud to support it. I urge all of my colleagues to do the same thing.

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

2:38 PM EDT

Louise Slaughter, D-NY 28th

Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 261 provides for the consideration of the emergency supplemental, the U.S. Troops Readiness, Veterans' Health and Iraq Accountability Act. The rule provides 4 hours of general debate in the House equally divided and controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on Appropriations.

The rule waives all points of order against consideration of the bill except for clauses 9 and 10 of rule XXI. The rule provides that the amendment printed in the Rules Committee report shall be considered as adopted. The rule waives all points of order against the bill as amended and provides that the bill, as amended, shall be considered as read. Finally, the rule provides one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

Mr. Speaker, with a deep appreciation for how critical this bill is, the Rules Committee reported out a rule that allows for 4 hours of what will be a full debate. It allows for the consideration of clear and concise legislation that everyone in the Congress is familiar with. It is a responsible rule, and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.

But we are here today to debate much more than procedure, Mr. Speaker. We meet today on the fourth day of the fifth year of the war in Iraq, a conflict that has gone on longer than the Korean War, even longer than the Second World War, that war being fought against the greatest threat to world security.

The scenarios painted by politicians here about the war in Iraq don't affect the men and women fighting it or living it. They actually know what the world for them really is. And what is that reality? This is a war being fought by soldiers who often do not have the equipment they need or the care they are owed. And it is not improving security for the Iraqi people. It is depleting our military and endangering the security of this Nation; and that is to this day based on a flawed strategy that

desperately needs to be changed.

Under such circumstances, for this Congress to support an open-ended commitment to this conflict, passing yet another blank check as past Congresses have done, would be a dereliction of duty. By contrast, passing a bill that has a chance of changing a stagnant situation in Iraq is not micromanaging; it is living up to what we owe our soldiers and the Iraqi people, to give them a fighting chance for success.

The supplemental makes America's continued involvement in Iraq conditional on the situation there improving. America's soldiers will no longer be asked to fight in an open-ended war whose goal line keeps moving. The bill would require Iraqi leaders to make the political compromises necessary to produce a working government, or risk losing the American military support. It will require the President's own security benchmarks to be met if American soldiers are to continue sacrificing their safety

for that goal. And it will be the first step toward ending the war.

Ending this flawed conflict is crucial not just for Iraq, but also for the future of our own military and, hence, to our own national security.

This Congress was aghast when it learned of the conditions of Walter Reed. But every day, the men and women of our military are suffering beyond reason. Let me briefly share one story with you that I recently heard, the story of a young lieutenant awaiting his second deployment to Iraq.

His first tour saw him bravely patrolling dangerous streets north of Baghdad. He returned last December, expecting a year on base during which to rest and train a new platoon. Instead, with the escalation in place, he will be heading back months sooner. The soldiers under his command are not getting the time they need to train properly for their mission. The vehicles and equipment they use to train for war are failing and often break. They are physically weary, many still suffering from the lingering

effects of leg and back injuries. Others are in counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of the soldiers who were married before the war are now divorced. Their lives outside the conflict are coming apart.

This lieutenant and his soldiers personify sacrifice. They never complain. When those in the military are given a mission, he told me, they find a way to complete it. That creed is why our Armed Forces are so strong.

But what this officer did tell me is that our Armed Forces cannot go on like this. He said that we are in danger of destroying our system of national defense. We see soldiers being sent back tour after tour, some too injured to wear the body armor. Our services are desperately trying to find a way to meet new troop requirements, sending back the wounded.

Mr. Speaker, this war is a dramatic misuse of our military. In the name of our national security, it is undermining the only true guarantor of national security that we have, our Armed Forces. And for years this Congress has let it happen, but not anymore.

Today the House will finally recognize that our military is at the breaking point, not because of any inherent weakness, but because it is being asked to complete a flawed mission. And so that mission itself must change.

Let me add as well that while our soldiers may stoically bear the burdens of short leaves and shoddy equipment, that in no way means that we in Congress should allow it to happen.

This bill respects our men and women in uniform enough to put their needs at the forefront of national priorities. From now on, if they are asked to go into battle without being fully armored, fully rested, and fully trained, then the President himself will have to stand before them, look them in the eye, and explain why he thinks our national safety is worth that level of sacrifice.

The legislation will also provide desperately needed funds for veterans' health care. Our country is seeing more wounded soldiers returning from abroad than at any point in 40 years, and yet our health care system has failed thousands of them. It is unconscionable, and it is long past time that that state of affairs is radically changed.

And, finally, this bill both increases funding for the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and for a variety of other critically important national security objectives. Taken together, it represents the beginning of what will be a responsible and ethical shift in our national security priorities away from a war in Iraq that we can't end and back towards where it ought to be.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is the first real chance that Democrats have had since 2003 to change the course of the war in Iraq, and we intend to do it. We will do it not because we are conceding anything to those who would do our Nation harm, not because we lack the will to fight for security, and not because, as some would have you believe, we are giving up. With this first step, we will change the course of this war because the future of the people of America depends on it, because a basic

level of respect for our soldiers demands it, and because the long-term security of our Nation requires it.

This is an important and historic bill, and I am proud to support it. I urge all of my colleagues to do the same thing.

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

2:40 PM EDT

David Dreier, R-CA 26th

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from New York, the distinguished Chair on the Committee of Rules for yielding me the time, and I yield myself such time as I might consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the strongest possible opposition to this rule and the underlying legislation. I could start this debate by quoting my Democratic colleagues on the Rules Committee when they decried Republican tactics over the last few years, how they railed against closed rules and chided me personally. I am a big guy, I can handle it. But they attacked me personally constantly for denying amendments that were offered by both Democrats and Republicans. I could quote every instance that

they promised to do better, to have the most open and fair Congress in the history of this country, and to not have late-night meetings. But today, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to do that. I am going to recognize that that would simply distract from this

very, very important issue. Instead, I [Page: H2865]

am going to simply provide the House, Mr. Speaker, and you witnessed much of this last night, with a factual account of what took place in the wee hours of this morning.

Shortly before 1 a.m., the Rules Committee on party-line votes reported out two self-executing closed rules, and denied the consideration of some 70 amendments submitted to the Rules Committee from both Republicans and Democrats as well. That is what happened. There is no denying it. You, Mr. Speaker, witnessed it yourself when you were upstairs in the Rules Committee.

So regardless of the process, this supplemental appropriations bill is a constitutionally dubious attempt at micromanaging the Iraq war into what I believe would be inevitable defeat if it succeeds. It enjoys such limited support on the other side of the aisle that it had to be ladened with unrelated pork in order to win enough votes to have any hope of passing. It is a cynical ploy that will leave dire consequences for the region, and for our own security, in its wake.

The Constitution lays out a very clear system of checks and balances derived from the ideas of the Framers of our Constitution. By giving the three branches of government distinct roles, we guard ourselves against tyranny; we guard ourselves as individuals against tyranny in each branch.

The President cannot wage war without authorization or funding from Congress. But if authorization and funding are granted, the President serves as the Commander in Chief with the authority to execute the war.

Mr. Speaker, this bill ignores the intentions of those Framers, and it attempts to turn the Constitution on its head. James Madison, Father of the Constitution, the author of the Constitution in Federalist No. 51, wrote, and I quote, ``In framing a government that is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place oblige it to control itself.''

Mr. Speaker, Madison recognized the inherent challenges in designing a government that is both effective and limited. He knew that, without checks and balances, tyranny would, in fact, ensue.

This bill attempts to diminish these checks and balances. It tries to turn Congress into a collection of 535 Commanders in Chief. This legislation of micromanagement is based on a disastrous strategy. Its authors fund the war, and then mandate its failure. They seek to tie the hands of our military commanders, and then force them to retreat when they are unable to meet impossible timetables. They mandate the withdrawal with no regard for the situation on the ground, and then they sweeten the

deal with $15 billion in money that is unrelated spending that has got a little something in there for practically everyone: $283 million for the milk income lost contract program; $74 million for peanut storage costs; $1.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers. Billions and billions of dollars for these projects, some worthy, some not.

[Time: 14:45]

But none of them related to the troops, and what this is, this is a war funding supplemental. None of these are emergency items.

Their only connection to emergency supplemental appropriations for the war, Mr. Speaker, in Iraq, is that they are necessary to build support for this bill, a bill that trades victory for electoral gains. Make no mistake, this legislation is a political solution for Democrats, not a strategy for winning in Iraq.

And what would the consequences of defeat be? The National Intelligence Estimate, the 9/11 Commission, and our people on the ground have all made it very clear that a precipitous withdrawal would have catastrophic consequences. The carnage of the battle of Baghdad that we are witnessing today will be just the beginning. Violence will spill out across the country and spread to the entire region.

In our absence, Iran and Syria will be utterly unfettered in their ability to incite a regional war that threatens global security, with enormous casualties suffered by the people of the region.

Proponents of a policy of defeat often point to our diminished standing in the international community. But what about our standing with the Iraqi people? Terrorist attacks on our own soil have demonstrated that our security and their security are directly linked.

And, Mr. Speaker, Operation Iraqi Freedom has bound us even more closely. We have a commitment to help the Iraqi people establish lasting security through democracy. We have a commitment not to abandon them to be slaughtered by terrorists.

And if we retreat, we not only abandon the Iraqi people, we draw terrorism back to our own doorstep. Have we so soon forgotten the tragedy of attacks on our homeland?

We took the war on terror to the terrorists and have suffered not one attack since September 11 of 2001.

With this bill, we would bring the war on terror back home. Only this time we will have strengthened the terrorists ourselves with a road map for success. We will have demonstrated precisely what it takes to defeat the United States of America. We will have clearly signaled to them that they must simply bide their time until the mandated retreat, at which time they will be able to terrorize with impunity.

I, like many Americans, Mr. Speaker, have been discouraged by this war. We all feel the toll that it has taken. And we are keenly aware of the price that we are paying, especially in a human sense. Every one of my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, has, as I have, looked in the faces of constituents whose family and friends have made the ultimate sacrifice in this war. Their pain is very real, and their loss is profound.

I regularly talk to a man called Ed Blecksmith whose son J.P. was tragically killed 2 years ago this past November in the very famous battle of Fallujah. And he has, time and time again, said to me, if we don't complete this mission, my son J.P. will have died in vain.

But we do not honor those who have sacrificed by abandoning their mission. We do not honor those in the field who are fighting, as we speak, by tying their hands and depriving them of the means to succeed. We will honor them by winning the war in Iraq so that our men and women come home having completed their mission.

We know that their mission will not be complete in the immediate future. As President Bush and General David Petraeus have both acknowledged, success will take months, not days or weeks. But there are signs of hope that the President's new plans, under General Petraeus, are working.

As Brian Williams of NBC reported from the field in Iraq, he said, ``This change in policy, getting out, decentralizing, going into the neighborhoods, grabbing a toehold, telling the enemy we are here, talking to the locals, that is having an obvious and palpable effect. There are hopeful signs.'' That was said by the NBC news anchor, Brian Williams.

Mr. Speaker, to abandon our mission now would be disastrous. I urge my colleagues to reject the policy of defeat, reject the return of terrorism to our homeland, and reject this unconstitutional power grab whose sole purpose is to cede victory to our enemies.

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

2:50 PM EDT

Jim McGovern, D-MA 3rd

Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that this is a difficult day for me.

I voted against this war from the very beginning when this vote was not politically popular. I was an original member of the Out of Iraq Caucus.

As far back as 2005 I introduced legislation to end funding for the war, which I believe has been one of the worst political, military, diplomatic and moral blunders in our Nation's history.

My bill calls for the immediate, safe and orderly withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq, and I urge my colleagues to join me in that legislation.

I want this war to come to an end today. Unfortunately, and to my deep disappointment, not enough of my colleagues, Democrat or Republican, believe as I do.

I have come to the conclusion that defeating the supplemental bill before us today would send a message to George Bush and Dick Cheney that they will continue to have a free pass [Page: H2866]

from this Congress to do whatever the hell they want to do.

The Bush administration, with their ``Mission Accomplished'' banners and their shifting rationales, must be held to account. We simply cannot trust them any longer. I lost my trust in this administration a long, long time ago.

I fear that defeating this bill would result in more of the same, more deceit and empty promises, more ignored benchmarks and missed deadlines, more American casualties, more debt passed on to our children and our grandchildren, more harm to our reputation around the world, and more war.

I cannot do that. I will not do that. So I will vote ``yes.''

This is not the bill that I want. This is not the bill that I would have written. But it is the bill that the Appropriations Committee has presented to us today, and it is a bill that reflects the hard reality that this is the toughest measure that we can get passed and get 218 votes for.

For the first time, we can mandate real and meaningful deadlines that clearly reflect the disgust so many of us have with how this war has been conducted.

This bill also provides $1.7 billion to address the health care needs of our veterans, particularly those suffering from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Too many of our veterans can't even get diagnosed, let alone treated. That is wrong, and this bill begins to fix it.

Quite frankly, I have concluded that this bill is the best that we can do, for now. I say that very deliberately, ``for now,'' because those of us who oppose this war will continue our efforts to end it. I want all of our troops out of Iraq and back home with their families where they belong.

I will propose much stronger language and, indeed, continue to press for the immediate withdrawal of all of our troops in the defense bills that are coming in the weeks ahead.

My old boss, Joe Moakley, stares at me from his portrait every day in the Rules Committee. He used to say that if the Democratic Party were in Europe, we would be 16 different parties.

So I want to just take a moment to commend the leadership of Dave Obey and Jack Murtha and Steny Hoyer, Jim Clyburn and Rahm Emanuel for all of their hard work these past few weeks. They have anguished over this issue, as all of us have.

And I especially want to commend our Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. She has been a forceful and effective opponent of this war from the very beginning, and I know she will continue to do all that she can to bring all of us, Republicans and Democrats, together to finally bring this terrible war to an end.

I am grateful to my colleagues in the Out of Iraq Caucus for their continued and forceful leadership. And I also want to thank all of the national and grass-roots activists and organizations who have done so much to oppose this war. I truly believe that the American people are way ahead of the politicians in Washington on this issue, and it is my hope that some day soon Congress and the White House will catch up.

2:54 PM EDT

David Dreier, R-CA 26th

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, at this time I am happy to yield 2 1/2 minutes to a very hardworking member of the Committee on Rules, the gentleman from Pasco, Washington (Mr. Hastings).

2:54 PM EDT

Doc Hastings, R-WA 4th

Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to this closed rule and the underlying legislation.

Mr. Speaker, since the war on terror began, the Rules Committee has granted an open rule for every wartime supplemental spending bill brought to the floor, thus giving every Member an opportunity to offer an amendment and have their say on those supplemental bills.

In the Rules Committee last night, we heard passionate testimony from several Members on both sides of the aisle. Some Members spoke about the need to continuing funding our troops to complete our mission, while others offered hard deadlines for withdrawal, regardless of consequence.

In the end, over 50 amendments were offered to the Rules Committee to be made in order for consideration on the House floor today. Regrettably, Mr. Speaker, not one single amendment, let me repeat that, not one of the 50 amendments will be allowed to be considered by the full House. And, Mr. Speaker, I am truly disappointed with that.

The bill we have before us today contains restrictions on funding and conditions on what our troops are able to do that are simply, to me, unacceptable. We have military leaders for a reason. Making 435 Members of Congress commanders in the field is a formula for failure, which I am deeply concerned will have a long-term consequence on our security here at home.

By placing restrictions on funds, hamstringing our military and calling for an arbitrary withdrawal, this bill will jeopardize the ability of our troops to do their jobs to defend America.

A wartime spending bill, Mr. Speaker, should have, above all else, to provide the support that our men and women in uniform need to accomplish their mission. By placing conditions on funding, this bill fails to do that. Conditions on funding make it impossible for our military leaders and our troops on the ground to respond to ever-changing conditions on the battlefield.

And finally, Mr. Speaker, this bill has more than just military funding. And I am disappointed now that it is only now, in an effort to attract votes for a bad bill that we know will never be signed into law, the Democrat leadership has decided to include in this bill an extension of rural county payments.

I tried earlier this year to attach an extension to another bill. That bill became law. I also tried to have a long-term extension brought up on a vote, but the Democrat leadership said no, time and time again. Allowing the extension to come to the floor only on a bill that we know will be vetoed amounts to nothing more than false promises.

So, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to oppose this rule and the underlying bill.

2:57 PM EDT

Alcee L. Hastings, D-FL 23rd

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Thank you very much, Ms. Slaughter, and thank you very much for your leadership.

Mr. Speaker, I have appended to this podium the faces of 90 people who never should have lost their lives in this war.

Mr. Speaker, when I voted against using troops in Iraq more than 4 years ago, I believed then, and still believe today, that this was not a war of necessity, but rather for the Bush administration a war of choice and convenience. As we have learned since that vote, the concern that I and others had was, indeed, justified.

Today's vote is not a vote on supporting our troops. After all, there is no choice when it comes to supporting our military. We all stand by them, Republicans and Democrats alike, especially when they are in harm's way.

But should we send our troops into battle without proper body armor? For over 4 years the Bush administration has said ``yes.'' Democrats have said ``no.''

Should we force our troops into second and third and fourth tours of duties with shortened times in between those tours? The Bush administration continues to say ``yes.'' Democrats say ``no.''

Should we welcome home our troops with inhumane conditions at our VA hospitals around this Nation, not just at Walter Reed, and a shortchanged veterans health care system? The Bush administration says ``yes.'' Democrats say ``no.''

Should we stay the course of rhetorical arguments filled with fear and deception, like I have heard here today? Or should we finally start holding this administration and the Iraqi Government accountable? For over 4 years the Bush administration has said ``stay the course.'' Democrats and the American people demand accountability and a plan to bring our men and women home.

Choices arise only when we start asking ourselves the real questions about how we can best support and protect our troops. On these issues, there are very clear choices between the Bush administration's ``stay the course'' stubbornness and the Democratic plan for accountability.

[Time: 15:00]

This bill is not the end-all-be-all when it comes to getting us out of Iraq. It is not the long-term solution which [Page: H2867]

so many of us crave. But it is the first step, a very necessary step, on the road to holding the administration and the Iraqi Government accountable and bringing our troops home.

Many Democrats did not vote for this war, but make no mistake about it, one way or another we will end it. Incidentally, whatever happened to exit strategy? Most importantly, we will do so in a manner that enhances our security here at home and contributes to the restoration of order and stability in the Middle East region and throughout the world.

This is an excellent rule, Madam Chairman, and the bill that has been fashioned by the Speaker and the leadership of this House is a correct start to adhere to the wishes of the American people.

3:01 PM EDT

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-FL 21st

Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from California for the time.

I rise to strongly oppose this rule and the underlying legislation that is being brought to the floor. For obviously substantive grounds, I oppose the legislation being brought to the floor.

I think that we are at a decisive time, more even than a critical time, a decisive time in the conflict in Iraq. And I think that now to be substantively, as this legislation does, tying the hands of our military personnel and, in effect, saying, well, if things don't go totally appropriately, totally correctly, if they don't go right, then you must withdraw.

And I think about other wars in the past and what would have happened if we would have had those kinds of requisites. If we had tied the hands of the military leaders in the past, there would have been disaster then. There would be disaster now if this legislation passes.

And for procedural reasons also, Mr. Speaker, I am strongly against this legislation. As strongly as I oppose some of the amendments that were brought forth to the Rules Committee, I supported the right of Members to bring forth those ideas and have them considered, but the majority in the Rules Committee rejected them.

During the time that we were in the majority, we never brought a wartime supplemental bill to this floor with a closed rule. It is unfortunate that the majority is doing so today.

For the substantive reasons that I have mentioned and many others, Mr. Speaker, as well as the significant procedural reasons that I have touched upon, that this House is being closed down with regard to the ability to present amendments today, I urge rejection of this rule as well as of the legislation being brought forth today.

3:03 PM EDT

Louise Slaughter, D-NY 28th

Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Matsui), member of the Rules Committee.

3:03 PM EDT

Doris O. Matsui, D-CA 5th

Ms. MATSUI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from New York for yielding me time and her leadership on the committee.

Mr. Speaker, this Congress is on the cusp of an historic step, a first step to changing Iraq policy, enacting a fixed timetable to bring our troops home. The bill made in order under this rule is not perfect, but it deserves our strong support because it offers us our best chance at forcing a change of direction in Iraq after 4 long years of mismanagement.

Mr. Speaker, I opposed this war from the beginning, and I believe we must bring our troops home soon and in a responsible way. The President's reckless insistence on sticking to a failed policy in Iraq underlines the need for Congress to show leadership. This legislation gives us the chance for the first time to take a concrete step towards bringing the war to a close.

This bill does not go as far as I would like. I support a more rapid redeployment of our troops from Iraq. I also strongly believe the President should not be allowed to waive the legislation's troop readiness requirements. But it has become clear in recent weeks that this is the most aggressive approach that can obtain the necessary votes to pass this House. That is the reality here. This is, after all, the legislative branch. That means we can't change the policy if we can't pass the bill.

Enacting a fixed timetable to bring our troops home is a very significant leap forward in our Iraq policy. It provides a foundation for further action and increases pressure on the President. That is why the President opposes it so strongly. Defeating this bill would ultimately play into the President's hands, resulting in the eventual passage of a blank-check bill that places fewer restraints on the President.

Ultimately Congress faces a choice: Do we set a timetable to bring the troops home while providing for the troops in harm's way, or do we give the administration a blank check for a war without end?

I choose to begin steps to end the war. For that reason I urge all Members to support the rule and the underlying bill.

3:06 PM EDT

Pete Sessions, R-TX 32nd

Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, I want to inquire if the gentleman has notified the Blue Dog Caucus that it is time for them to rush out front of their offices and put an extra $25 billion on the national debt. Have we given that notice yet for their offices to begin doing that?

We will find out whether they are going to vote for this 25 extra billion dollars that I think is way too much in the emergency supplemental.

Mr. Speaker, once again the Democrats are refusing to operate under the rules they campaigned on to open up the political process and use PAYGO rules to fully fund and offset any new mandatory spending.

Today is a particularly egregious example of their irresponsible leadership as they threaten to leave our troops in the lurch by micromanaging the war against the United States by terrorists, while also leaving American taxpayers holding the bag by declaring hundreds of millions of dollars in new mandatory spending as an ``emergency.''

SCHIP is an important program where States are given a fixed annual allotment to assist them in providing health care coverage to near-poverty children and pregnant women. However, a few States want to use their SCHIP program to provide health care services to expanded populations that go well beyond the scope of the original program, even though they signed an agreement stating that they promised to pay for any additional costs with their own State funds or to offset those within the Medicaid

program.

Despite this agreement, Mr. Speaker, a number of States have told Congress that overspending their Federal allotment was their intention all along. Once again they come to Uncle Sam to get a bailout.

Mr. Speaker, this is not an emergency. This is a loophole being exploited by the Democratic leadership. So today the Democrat leadership is telling these States, You don't have to keep your promises to the Federal Government, and you don't have to worry. We don't mind exploiting a loophole in the rules and calling this an ``emergency'' even though we have known for years that this would happen.

Mr. Speaker, I am voting against this.

3:08 PM EDT

Dennis Cardoza, D-CA 18th

Mr. CARDOZA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this rule and the underlying bill.

It is the responsibility of this Congress, ladies and gentlemen, to demand accountability from this President and insist on concrete results from the Iraqi Government. Ladies and gentlemen, our troops are laying their lives on the line every single day. The least we can do is demand and require Iraqi accountability. This bill embraces that responsibility and sets the stage for handing over control of security of Iraq to the Iraqis.

It is also the responsibility of this Congress to provide our troops with the resources they need to do their jobs. And let there be no confusion. This bill provides full funding for our men and women in uniform, who continue to serve the country with great courage and dedication.

This bill also provides $1.7 billion in new funding for veterans' health care, something that is direly needed. The state of veterans' health care in America is in crisis, and our troops deserve better.

In addition, this bill will help us refocus our efforts on those who attacked us on September 11 by increasing funding for the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It is deeply troubling to me that this war in Iraq has undermined our efforts to address the urgent threats in the war on terror. After failing to kill Osama bin Laden when we had the chance at Tora Bora, the administration turned its attention to Iraq, allowing the Taliban to regain lost ground in Afghanistan.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, our goals in Iraq must reflect reality. For far too long Congress served as nothing more than a rubber stamp for this President's disastrous policy in Iraq. Those days, Mr. Speaker, are over. Iraq has descended into a bloody civil war that cannot be resolved by the American military. Even our military commander in Iraq, General Petraeus, has said there is no military solution to this conflict.

The Sunni-Shia divide goes back 1,400 years. America alone cannot reverse 14 centuries of division and hate.

I support the rule, and I support the underlying bill.

3:11 PM EDT

David Dreier, R-CA 26th

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, at this time I am very pleased to yield 2 minutes to my good friend, member of the Appropriations Committee, the gentleman from Goddard, Kansas (Mr. Tiahrt).

3:11 PM EDT

Todd Tiahrt, R-KS 4th

Mr. TIAHRT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, this supplemental funding is one of the most important bills that Congress will be considering this year, and I am very disappointed that the Democrat leadership has mandated that this bill come to the floor under a closed rule.

I have heard the Democrats say that this is not a perfect rule. It is perfectly wrong; that is what it is.

What does a closed rule mean? It means voices will not be heard. It means ideas will be silenced. A closed rule means that no amendments will be allowed to the bill, that no alternative plan to fully fund the troops will be allowed.

I only have 2 minutes to discuss this, not enough time to explain to the American people how this puts our troops at risk or question why the Speaker believes she has the right to micromanage the war in Iraq.

We spent a whole week debating the nonbinding resolution on Iraq, and now we have only 4 hours of how to best fund and support our troops. It is not enough time to explain title IX, where the language of the bill prevents our troops from receiving reinforcements or replacements. It is not enough time to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the supplemental will fulfill the goals of al Qaeda's leader al-Zawahiri. It is not enough time to show the American people how this supplemental replaces

the Iraqi National Congress by imposing on their government demands, demands to change their Constitution, demands to change their laws.

This is an unfair rule that represents broken promises for a more open Congress made by the Speaker. This is a rule that should be defeated.

I am going to vote ``no'' on this, and I encourage my colleagues to also vote ``no'' on this rule. It is an unfair bill.

3:13 PM EDT

Peter Welch, D-VT

Mr. WELCH of Vermont. Mr. Speaker, the President's Iraq policy has been a complete catastrophe. It must be challenged. It must be changed. We must end this war.

The question we face is clear: Will Congress rubber-stamp a fifth year of a failed policy, or will Congress finally, after 4 straight years of lock-step compliance with an incompetent administration, compel a new direction that ends the war?

The President has arrogantly asserted that he will veto any measure with a timetable. Mr. Speaker, I will not support any bill without a timetable. If I had a chance to write this bill, like my colleague from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern), I would bring our troops home yesterday. But I did not write this bill, so I must measure it based on three criteria: Does it impose accountability on the President and Iraqis? Does it revoke the President's blank check? Does it establish a date certain

with the force of law that will end this war?

[Time: 15:15]

This bill meets each of these objectives. Regrettably if this bill fails, the war will continue, unchecked and unabated.

It is time for the Iraqis to accept responsibility for shaping their own future. Even President Bush has acknowledged the importance of imposing measurable benchmarks of success on the Iraqi Government. This legislation replaces Presidential lip service with congressional force of law.

There is a reason the President threatens to veto this bill: It is because Congress is finally revoking his blank check.

Mr. Speaker, there is no easy way to clean up the mess in Iraq or to avert further suffering. Our obligation remains to decide, at this time and place, whether to stay the President's course or to end this war as soon as possible. [Page: H2869]

I will support this bill because it finally puts us on the path to end the unconscionable war.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE

3:15 PM EDT

Ray LaHood, R-IL 18th

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I want to say I thank you for admonishing the prior speaker. The words that he used could have been taken down. We don't need people out here on the floor calling the President names.

I appreciate what the Speaker said to him, and I hope other Members will listen.

3:16 PM EDT

Phil Gingrey MD, R-GA 11th

Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today not only in strong opposition to this ``our way or the highway'' rule, but also to the underlying bill, which I believe encroaches on the constitutional principle of separation of power, particularly the President's authority as Commander in Chief.

Regretfully, this rule prevents every single Member of this body, both Democrats and Republicans, from offering an amendment to an emergency wartime supplemental appropriations act, a highly unprecedented attack on the democratic process.

Mr. Speaker, I recognize the majority is insistent on a force pullout from Iraq, but the language in this supplemental puts this war and the soldiers' lives on autopilot. This legislation makes a flash-point decision about the war, about our men and women on the ground, with little regard to the actual facts 6 months, a year, and indeed 17 months from now. It looks like ``Magic 8-Ball'' foreign policy.

Last night, Mr. Speaker, I offered an amendment to the Rules Committee. Unfortunately, it was not made in order, but it would have required this Congress to reevaluate the situation in Iraq at each of these timelines in the so-called Murtha language. So whatever the benchmarks, then we would have to come back and vote again, clean up or down vote, whether or not we want to bring the troops home.

Mr. Speaker, that is especially important at the drop-dead date of August of 2008, when this bill basically says no matter what, the troops come home, even if we have got the bad guys on the run. I think every Member of this body would want to support an amendment like this, so that we would once again be able to vote and reconsider, considering the situation on the ground.

So this legislation sets a dangerous precedent, and I respectfully ask my colleagues, oppose the rule, oppose the underlying bill. Let's work, both Republican and Democrat alike, let's produce a supplemental that will actually pass this House, pass the Senate and be signed by the President. Do right by our American soldiers, and our people and the people in Iraq.

3:27 PM EDT

Christopher Shays, R-CT 4th

Mr. SHAYS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman for yielding me time.

Mr. Speaker, this closed rule allows only an up-or-down vote on the Democrats' proposal regarding needed military spending, but it contains an unrealistic timeline for the withdrawal of troops, and it includes bloated spending for nonmilitary expenditures.

We all want to do the right thing for our troops in Iraq and the Iraqi people. This bill does not give us the opportunity to do either.

I offered three amendments to the Rules Committee, and none were made in order because it made no amendment in order. One was to increase funding for our community action programs in Iraq, like Mercy Corps, who hire Iraqis in their organizations, and then the Iraqis are hired to do the work.

A second amendment would have required the President to come in with a timeline and to then require the Iraqis to meet it, and needing a 60 percent vote of support of this timeline or we leave even sooner.

The third was to encourage this Congress to debate the Iraqi Study Group recommendations, which both Democrats and Republicans agree with.

We could have done something on a bipartisan basis. We expect Iraqis to work out their differences and are critical when the Sunnis and Shias are unable to find common ground. Yet we in this Congress, Republicans and Democrats, are unable to work out our differences, and we don't even have to fear a bomb being blown off or an assassination attempt.

We went into Iraq on a bipartisan basis. Two-thirds of the House and three-quarters of the Senate voted to go in. It is absolutely imperative we get out of Iraq on a bipartisan basis.

I encourage my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to allow us to have a bipartisan approach.

3:29 PM EDT

David Dreier, R-CA 26th

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I am happy to yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentleman from Lafayette, Louisiana (Mr. Boustany).

[Time: 15:30]

3:29 PM EDT

Charles Boustany Jr., R-LA 7th

Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman. I rise in opposition to the rule and to this underlying bill, and I will tell you that it gives me no satisfaction to vote against a bill that has so many things that are important to my State in terms of gulf coast recovery and the relief effort after the hurricanes.

But I cannot in good conscience vote for a bill that is going to do unspeakable harm to our troops in the field and to our national security. I want to point out the fiscal fantasy also in this bill. I want to point out one item. There is $15 million in this bill for rice farmers in my district for salt water mitigation. That is twice the number of dollars that we needed months ago for this. So if we have that kind of bloating in the bill on one small item, I can't imagine what this $28 billion

extra in the bill is all about.

This bill is fiscal fantasy, and it does unspeakable harm to our national security. For those reasons, I oppose it vehemently.

3:31 PM EDT

Peter A. DeFazio, D-OR 4th

Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the Chair and my good friend for yielding.

This bill will end the war in Iraq. This is the first enforceable challenge to the President's plan to escalate and continue a stay-the-course, open-ended commitment to a war, a war that was launched with massive deception, and an unnecessary war.

One gentleman questioned Congress' power. Congress' power under Article I, section 8 is very broad. We have the ability to modify the original authorization for war, and that is essentially what we are doing here by saying there will be an end to this war.

A year ago, just 1 year ago this March, the President said it will be up to ``future Presidents,'' plural, not just the next one, plural, ``and future governments of Iraq'' to determine when our troops might come home. That is not acceptable.

Our troops are mired in the midst of a civil war. Oh, they have dragged out the old, If we don't fight them there, we'll fight them here. Well, unfortunately, the Republicans are contradicted by the Bush-appointed National [Page: H2871]

Intelligence Director who says al Qaeda is not looking to have a base in Iraq and al Qaeda would be extraordinarily unlikely to attempt, and has no capability to attack the United States from Iraq; but they are looking to move back

into Afghanistan, Afghanistan where we should have stayed focused, a legitimate war against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden. Remember him? Dead or alive; dead or alive. He is still planning attacks against the United States of American, and Bush wants to mire us down day after day in a civil war.

The Iraqis have to want to end this war. This bill will give them a motivation to begin to lay aside their ages' old grudges and begin to meaningfully cooperate and coordinate and share their oil wealth. That is the only way this is going to end. It is a civil war. They have been fighting it for 1,400 years. We need this bill. We need to motivate the Iraqis to bring an end to this war, and we need to refocus on the real threats to America.

3:33 PM EDT

David Dreier, R-CA 26th

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to yield 2 minutes to the former attorney general of California, my friend from Folsom, a hardworking member of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Lungren.

3:33 PM EDT

Dan Lungren, R-CA 3rd

Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, once again on this floor we have heard an argument stated much like was stated in the argument on the bill immediately preceding. Here we are dealing with a rule on a spending bill, and we are told by a number of speakers on the other side of the aisle that they would prefer that we do the constitutional thing, that is, that we exercise the power of the purse in the way we are allowed to; that is, to cut off funding for our troops to immediately

get them home.

But we have heard the reason why they don't bring that to the floor: they don't have the votes. And they use that as a reason why they bring, therefore, unconstitutional restrictions on the power of the President as Commander in Chief. Much like we heard on the bill before this, because it is the right thing to do with respect to the District of Columbia, we should ignore the words of the Constitution.

The problem is, once again, we are being told by those on the other side of the aisle that the Constitution, the Constitution, is an inconvenient truth.

The fact of the matter is the Founding Fathers tried to create a delicate balance between the war powers in the House and the war powers in the executive branch. And they said the President is Commander in Chief and once we go to war, he makes those decisions. We have the power of the purse. We have the power of the purse. If you truly believe that we are in the wrong position in Iraq, have the courage to present to this floor that question which we are given the power to consider under the Constitution.

But don't come to the floor and use as your excuse for bringing something which is unconstitutional that you don't have the votes to do the right thing.

This goes beyond this question of the war, as important as it is. It is whether or not we as Members of the Congress who swear an oath to uphold the Constitution can on a daily basis ignore that Constitution.

3:38 PM EDT

Patrick McHenry, R-NC 10th

Mr. McHENRY. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding.

This an Iraq war and an Afghanistan war supplemental bill to fund the troops in harm's way.

Now let me get this straight. The majority has put together a bill that will help defeat Islamic extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan by funding $283 million worth of pork barrel spending for a milk program, a domestic milk program in the United States.

They believe the key to victory in Iraq is setting aside $74 million for peanut storehouses in Iraq. No, I'm sorry, not Iraq, Georgia.

They believe they can defeat Islamic extremists by $25 million worth of spinach subsidies for United States farmers.

Beyond that, they think that we can fund the war by spending $25 million for United States livestock. Now, Mr. Speaker, the American people know what this is about. This $25 million of livestock is literally pork for pork. It is the most ironic thing in this bill.

I would say that the failure of the majority is they don't understand ``emergency'' and ``war spending.''

3:40 PM EDT

Bill Pascrell Jr., D-NJ 8th

Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the rule for H.R. 1591. In fact, Madam Chair, you have set the rule, and we need rules of the road. That is why we need to pass H.R. 1591.

This is not the average spending bill taken up by the Congress. This legislation represents a very personal decision that needs to be made by each and every Member of this body about the future of our Nation. The fact is, and I address, if I may through the Chair, my respected brothers and sisters in the opposition.

The fact is that this bill was not necessitated by the acts of Congress. No, no. This supplemental is necessary because our Nation faces an emergency due to the multitude of failures from this administration. Why are you carrying their water?

Funding will be provided to make certain that the disgrace of Walter Reed will not be repeated. This supplemental makes certain that our troops are not redeployed in and out of Iraq without proper rest, without proper preparation. We all support that, don't we? And our support in Iraq will be brought to an end responsibly.

We recently observed the 4-year anniversary of the war in Iraq. And yet during those 4 years, Congress stood on the sidelines providing endless funding without questioning. No more; no more.

Today, Congress finally fulfills its constitutionally mandated responsibility, provides real oversight for the [Page: H2872]

funding of this war, and holds this administration accountable for its actions. That is what this rule, that is what this legislation is all about.

We have the opportunity here, all of us, to undo some of the severe damage caused by the unnecessary war. I ask Members to vote for the rule and for the bill.

3:42 PM EDT

David Dreier, R-CA 26th

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, in 1859 that great philosopher and religious leader John Stuart Mill wrote: ``War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.''

We have yet to hear from the other side of the aisle about how we are going to win the global war on terror. We haven't heard, as my friend, Mr. Lungren, just said to me, the ``V'' word. How are we going to be victorious in this war?

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this rule. This is the largest supplemental spending bill in the history of this planet; and it is being brought up under a closed rule.

Our colleagues in the other body will have an opportunity to amend and discuss and debate this. Only a few Members of the Democratic leadership fashioned this measure, Mr. Speaker. It is unfair. It sends the wrong message to our troops. We must be victorious in this war.

With that, I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule and if they pass this rule, a ``no'' vote on the underlying legislation.