|8:03 PM EDT||
Jerry Lewis, R-CA 41st
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 5 minutes.
Mr. Speaker, we know that this conference report before us will be vetoed by the President because of the Iraqi withdrawal language and the many unrelated and costly spending items that have absolutely nothing to do with the global war on terror or recovery efforts in the gulf coast.
It is no secret that many Members of the House and Senate, both Republicans and Democrats, have strong reservations about the manner in which this legislation undermines the authority of the President, our Commander in Chief. Members are also rightly concerned about how this legislation places military decisions in the hands of politicians rather than the military commanders in the field.
As I have said many times before, this legislation ought to focus on our troops. It ought to focus on providing those in harm's way with the resources they need to complete their mission successfully. It ought to respect, not micromanage, our combatant commanders in whom we place the ultimate responsibility for prosecuting military actions.
My colleagues know that I have great respect for my friend, Mr. Murtha, but I strongly disagree with his assertion that we ought to have 535 Members and Senators micromanaging the war in Iraq. With all due respect, that is not our job.
Let me again remind my colleagues, we are not generals, we are not the Secretary of State, and we most certainly are not the Commander in Chief. It is tragically ironic that the House is considering this conference report the same day that General David Petraeus met with Members in closed session on the current situation in Iraq.
It was on January 26 of this year, just 3 months ago, that the Senate voted 81-0 to confirm General Petraeus to be the top military commander in Iraq. One would have thought that Members and Senators would trust his judgment following such an extraordinary vote of confidence over 3 months ago. Senator Reid, who supported the General's confirmation, now says, and I quote, ``I don't believe him.''
Recent history reminds us that the enemy we face in Iraq, in Afghanistan and other countries that harbor terrorists will stop at nothing to seek opportunities to attack the United States and our allies. Have we not learned anything from the original World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the Khobar Towers bombing, the attack on USS Cole or 9/11 itself?
Al Qaeda will view this legislation as the first sign of the United States backing down from its commitment to the war on terror. It will view the withdrawal provisions contained in this conference report as America signaling retreat and surrender. Indeed, al Qaeda will view this as a day that the House of Representatives threw in the towel, waved the white flag and signaled retreat and surrender in Iraq.
Our failure to learn the lessons of history, our failure to lead today, will result in devastating consequences, including an even greater loss of lives, and even more resources needed to fight tomorrow. Just as we have only one top General in Iraq, one Secretary of State and one Commander in Chief, we only have one Speaker of the House at a time.
Speaker Pelosi and I have been friends and have served as colleagues on the Appropriations Committee for many years. The Speaker played an important role in supporting the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, a critical and successful military capability that is a key element to the war on terror. She and I worked on that in the Intelligence Committee together years ago. It is puzzling to me that the Speaker would not only openly question the judgment of General Petraeus, Secretary
Rice, and our Commander in Chief, but that she would also willingly work to undermine their efforts to secure a successful outcome in Iraq.
My colleagues, it is absolutely essential that America, the last remaining superpower on Earth, continue to be the voice for peace and freedom in our shrinking world. Our success is critical. Walking away will further signal to Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and others that the United States is no longer committed to a successful outcome in Iraq.
In closing, I ask Speaker Pelosi and my friends in the majority to weigh the implications of supporting this conference report. Even as I hold hope that the Speaker might have a road-to-Damascus conversion, I ask her to weigh the enormous consequences of putting our troops in peril. I strongly urge a ``no'' vote on this emergency supplemental.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.