|1:24 PM EDT||
Bobby Scott, D-VA 3rd
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
As many of our student veterans have come to realize, the current Montgomery GI Bill falls far short in meeting the needs of today's college students. The current program is designed as a benefit for peacetime service and was never intended as a wartime benefit.
The 21st Century GI Bill in this bill will give our men and women in uniform who have served multiple tours of duty and extended tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan the educational benefits similar to the ones earned in World War II. Our veterans today have served multiple tours of duty. They are getting pulled away from school, their jobs, and their families. The current GI Bill does not honor their service sufficiently. This bill will.
I commend our bipartisan cosponsors, especially my Virginia colleague, Jim Webb, for writing this bill. This bill will honor the service of our veterans. We need to pass this bill.
|1:25 PM EDT||
Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-NJ 11th
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this legislation, and I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I oppose this legislation on two distinct grounds. On process, the American people should expect more from this Congress. They should expect that when the United States sends our brave men and women into combat, we provide them with the resources to protect themselves and to accomplish their mission, both military and humanitarian, and we do it expeditiously.
In this context, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Nation's top military officer, has warned all of us and our congressional leaders, and I quote: ``The Pentagon is dangerously close to running out of money. We need the supplemental appropriations very badly before the Memorial Day recess. We stop paying soldiers on the 15th of June, and we have precious little flexibility with respect to that.''
Should it be a surprise to the majority leadership? Absolutely not. Our troops have been waiting nearly 450 days since the President delivered his request for emergency funds to Congress. Our soldiers need this funding to continue their efforts in the global war on terror.
Yet this is a process that amounts to deliberate brinksmanship. You have waited until the 11th hour before bringing the bill to the floor in an effort to force the President and the Congress to endorse and accept billions of dollars of nonwar, nonemergency spending.
Having said that, Mr. Speaker, on substance, on the funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, this is a solid package and I commend the gentleman, Chairman Murtha, and the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) for their work. However, my colleagues, once again we are being asked to endorse a policy that amounts to retreat from our battles with terrorists in Iraq.
But this bill in the end should not be about binding or nonbinding deadlines for withdraw or how to conduct this war. The critical mass of this bill is about supporting our troops and making sure that all of these volunteers get what they need.
|1:27 PM EDT||
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-SD
Ms. HERSETH SANDLIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Chairman Obey for his hard work in putting together this emergency supplemental and overcoming a number of challenges in readying the amendments the House is considering today.
As chairwoman of the Economic Opportunities Subcommittee of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee with jurisdiction over veterans' education benefits, I am proud to support today's efforts to modernize the Montgomery GI Bill. Members of the subcommittee have worked diligently throughout the 110th Congress to understand how best to enhance education benefits and make them easier to access for our Nation's veterans in the 21st century.
My stepbrother, a 3rd Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy, next week deploys to the Persian Gulf on the USS Ronald Reagan. He, like so many thousands of brave and dedicated service men and women, stands to benefit from our important vote today, a vote to invest more wisely in these men and women who make the commitment to serve our country and keep us safe, a vote that reflects our priorities as a Nation to recognize their honored service.
I urge my colleagues to support this much-needed improvement in veterans education benefits.
|1:29 PM EDT||
Todd Tiahrt, R-KS 4th
Mr. TIAHRT. I thank the gentleman from California.
Mr. Speaker, Washington is broken and it needs to be changed. This bill has been excluded from the normal rules and regulations of the House, and America's Representatives have not had their voices heard or their rights allowed. It would be a totally different bill if we had not violated the House rules and let the committee process work. Washington is broken and we need to have it changed.
For example, if we had committee meetings, we would not have had a tax increase in here. We have a huge tax increase in this bill that affects small business owners. Eighty percent or 83 percent of the taxes here, of the people that are going to be taxed here, are small businessmen.
Now, in Kansas, just like a lot of America, four out five jobs are created by small businesses. And for those of [Page: H3941]
you that have not been reading the newspaper, our country is in a period of slow growth. This is exactly the time we need to strengthen small businesses, instead of punishing them through this bill. Eighty-three percent of the people punished in this bill are people that are creating jobs.
If we'd had a committee process, we may not have added in other ancillary issues into this idea. Instead, we would have had a clean bill that would address the needs of our young men and women who are faithfully serving this Nation, protecting our families, take the fight to the enemy and helping us keep this country safe.
But, Mr. Speaker, Washington is broken and it needs to be changed. We have avoided the committee process and because of that, there are portions of this bill that could have been improved, portions of it that could have been improved for our veterans that have served so faithfully, come home to us broken, people we need to take care of. But because the committee was not involved in this process, we have not had the ability to improve this care for those who have done so much for us. The reason
is, Mr. Speaker, is because Washington is broken and it needs to be changed.
We need to use the committee process. The committee process is a very important part of this. It's been violative of our own House rules. Washington is broken and it needs to be changed.
|1:33 PM EDT||
Jesse Jackson Jr., D-IL 2nd
Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin.
I rise in strong support of amendment No. 2 and amendment No. 3 to the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2008.
As a member of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, I have fought to include overseas humanitarian assistance in these supplemental appropriations bills. I want to thank Chairman Obey for including several of these provisions in amendment No. 3 which truly reflect the will and generosity of the American people.
Because of the rising cost and shortage of food, riots and instability have hit Haiti, have hit Egypt and the Philippines. Amendment No. 3 contains a total of $850 million for P.L. 480 Food for Peace Programs, which will be made available as soon as this bill is signed into law.
In Sudan, Chad, Kenya, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, thousands of people die each day, not from conflict, but mostly from malnourishment and lack of health care and shelter. Amendment No. 3 includes $200 million for urgent humanitarian disaster assistance, and $300 million for assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons.
These funds are desperately needed, and I strongly urge my colleagues to vote for amendment No. 3.
|1:41 PM EDT||
Roy Blunt, R-MO 7th
Mr. BLUNT. We get to say yes or no because everybody in this building knows that this bill will never become law. We've waited till the week before Memorial Day to bring a bill to the floor that will not become law. The majority leader announced earlier today that maybe it will be the middle of June before we get to a bill that would actually get to the President's desk and become law, when furlough notices have gone out.
This is a shameful way for us to meet the needs of our troops, and I hope we'll get down to business next week and see if we can't actually pass a bill that will meet the needs of our troops.
|1:42 PM EDT||
Rahm Emanuel, D-IL 5th
Mr. EMANUEL. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues from Wisconsin and from Pennsylvania.
This is about our eighth war funding supplemental, emergency spending for the war. But what's intriguing about this one is that, in every other war supplemental, we've asked the American taxpayers to give the Iraqis approximately $50 billion to rebuild their country, schools, hospitals, roads, electricity, all so Iraq can rebuild after the war. And this is the first supplemental that we've asked to rebuild America. These kids lives, approximately the same amount of money.
Over the last eight funding bills for the war, we've dedicated approximately $50 billion of American money to rebuild Iraq's schools and roads. We're asking approximately a little over $50 billion to help these kids, our GIs, to rebuild their lives, to get the education that they've earned, to start on a new life for them and their family, whether they be Guard, Reserve or active duty.
So there has been no conscience, no problem when it came to Iraq's roads. They got the money. There was no problem when it came to Iraqi schools and hospitals. We said that was our moral obligation, to help Iraq get back on their feet.
What moral obligation do we have to our own GIs to get back on their feet?
Where is the decency to these kids who we've sent, not once, not twice, some of them three times who signed up to be Guard or Reserve and then we've implemented a stop-loss program that totally changed the contracts?
|1:44 PM EDT||
Rahm Emanuel, D-IL 5th
Mr. EMANUEL. We have an obligation to these children to restart their lives.
At the height of 1949, the original GI Bill of Rights for World War II was 1 percent of our GDP. This is far less. And look how well that paid off for this country. Everybody knows somebody who went to school on that GI Bill. We are doing right by those kids who are doing right by us.
You have compared this war with the equivalent of what we've done in World War II. Well, let's make it the equivalent by giving these kids a GI Bill. They've earned it every day doing something that not one of us have done in this context.
And yes, we've asked those who are the most well-off in this country, people we all know, to pay a little so these kids can go to college and pursue their dream that they made possible for us because of their sacrifice. And I know a lot of those people, and they're willing to pay a little more to make sure that these kids have an opportunity for the American Dream.
|1:46 PM EDT||
Mike Pence, R-IN 6th
Mr. PENCE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous speaker from Illinois, whom I greatly respect, I support the war in Iraq. I have supported it from the beginning. I support providing the resources to our soldiers who are in the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. I pray for some 3,000 Indiana soldiers who are on the ground in Operation Iraqi Freedom every day. But though I support providing our soldiers with the resources they need to get the job done and come home safe, I cannot support this war supplemental bill.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the American people need to know what is going on here. I mean, this is a backroom deal for $250 billion that includes $72 billion in domestic spending that has nothing whatsoever to do with our soldiers and the war on terror. It also will increase taxes on working families by $51 billion. Higher taxes and higher domestic spending put on the backs of our soldiers is indecent, Mr. Speaker. [Page: H3943]
When my colleague from Illinois speaks about decency, it is indecent to come to this floor and play politics with our troops during a time of war. This Congress should bring a clean supplemental bill to this floor that provides our soldiers with the resources they need to get the job done and come home safe, not billions of dollars in domestic spending and higher taxes.
I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this legislation to reject playing politics with our troops in the field.
|1:48 PM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
I cannot believe what I just heard.
The gentleman just indicated that somehow we're adding $72 billion to a bill ``that has nothing whatsoever to do with the welfare of soldiers.'' I would point out by far the largest item that we are adding to this bill, $51 billion over 10 years, is devoted to help those very same soldiers so that the people who fought, when they come home, get treated the same way that the GIs did at the end of World War II. That isn't on the backs of the soldiers. That's trying to enhance their lives. It's
trying to enable Reservists and Guard members and regular forces who have had their lives disrupted, who have gone to Iraq two and three times. We're trying to say, Okay, you can stay home for a while. Get yourself a college education.
The GI Bill paid back this country $7 for every dollar it cost.
|1:49 PM EDT||
Steve Scalise, R-LA 1st
Mr. SCALISE. The people of southeast Louisiana have faced tremendous challenges during the last 2 1/2 years. Thousands of people lost their homes due to the failure of Federal levees. However, today we find out that the flood protection that they need is going to be held in jeopardy by a poison pill in the name of a $52 billion tax increase on the backs of small businesses that was thrown into the bill last night with no debate. Our flood protection should not be held hostage to $52 billion
in new taxes on the backs of small businesses.
This language clearly will not make it through the legislative process and will only give false hope to a people who deserve much better. Let us go back to work, come up with a solution that we can all agree can pass through the legislative process. I look forward to working with you to achieve that solution.
|1:50 PM EDT||
John Tanner, D-TN 8th
Mr. TANNER. Mr. Speaker, when these people say they're going to provide the resources for the war and for the veterans but they're not going to pay for it, what they're really saying is China is going to provide the resources to our veterans; China is going to finance this war because that's what has been going on. They have borrowed more money from foreign sources since George W. Bush took office than all 42 Presidents of the United States before him put together, and they still want to keep
And talk about working families, we are asking people who make over $1 million a year to increase their taxes $500 for these veterans to go to college so the veterans will not be subject to future deficits and future matters that may be beyond our control where the program has to be cut.
This is dedicated funding, and it comes from those in this country who have the most to give to the people who gave the most with no arms and no legs. I have seen them and you have seen them at Walter Reed and Bethesda.
|1:52 PM EDT||
John Tanner, D-TN 8th
Mr. TANNER. And we're going to provide resources? No, we're not going to provide any resources for these veterans unless you vote for this bill. What you're doing is we're going to ask China and Japan to give the resources to our veterans. I think that's a moral outrage.
If we can send more, we can damned sure help them get through college when they get home with one arm and one leg.
|1:52 PM EDT||
Stephen Buyer, R-IN 4th
Mr. BUYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I would like to limit my remarks to the veterans' education benefits that's contained in the amendment.
I don't believe that there is a Member here in the House who opposes improving the GI Bill. What I find objectionable and, Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the lectures by the then-ranking member and now the chairman of Appropriations with regard to process over the years and how conflicted he must feel, the fact that his leadership has directed him to bring a bill to the floor that has not gone through the process and, matter of fact, that there's no bipartisanship in agreement. You had brought
bills to the floor before that didn't go through the appropriations process, but you two had agreements.
So you must be incredibly conflicted at the moment because you have given us lectures on process, and now you've thrown all of your lectures out the window.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE
|1:53 PM EDT||
Stephen Buyer, R-IN 4th
Mr. BUYER. Mr. Speaker, he's thrown all of them out the window.
What upsets most of us who sit on the Veterans' Affairs Committee is in fact there was a response. Chairwoman Herseth Sandlin and Ranking Member John Boozman have a bill. It's called H.R. 5684, and that bill was amended through regular order in the House. And what that bill did was improve the existing GI model, and the entire committee passed it.
Now what has happened, instead of using the bill that came from the Veterans' Affairs Committee, she hijacked that process to bring a bill in the Senate that the House here has never even considered. We've never had any hearings on it. It might be the greatest of bills, but if we're about to do this, Mr. Murtha and others, for all of our comrades and buddies and pals, we better make sure it's done right.
So in this process, I also know, and I agree with Mr. Tanner's remarks, Mr. Speaker, about paying for.
Now I'm going to vote for this. I'm going to vote for it not because I like the tax provisions. I would have much preferred some offsets. I also recognize the Senate probably aren't going to go with the tax provisions.
But we better be smart about our business here because if this House adopts this bill, we're going to have to be correcting it in conference instead of doing our business like we should have done in the House.
|1:57 PM EDT||
Jerry Lewis, R-CA 41st
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, before I yield to my next speaker, I would yield myself 10 seconds.
The chairman of the committee could have raised this 6 months ago since the bill has been around for a full year, but he chose to use political rhetoric today rather than really carry out his responsibilities.
I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling).
|1:57 PM EDT||
Jeb Hensarling, R-TX 5th
Mr. HENSARLING. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Again, it's a travesty that we are on this floor yet again expecting our fighting men and women to carry other spending on their backs while they're trying to preserve our freedom. We've seen it before. There ought to be a clean up-or-down vote: do you support our troops; do you not support our troops.
Now as the ranking member said, Mr. Buyer from Indiana, we all support an increase in GI benefits. But do you want to do it in such a way that the Secretary of Defense and the Commander in Chief says compromises our all-volunteer Army? I am the son, I am the grandson, I am the brother of veterans. I honor these people. But to harm our all-volunteer Army is not the way to do it.
And then we have heard lectures about well, we have to pay for it. Well, why yesterday did this body hand out Federal subsidies to millionaire farmers and then today turn around and try and tax them. A tax on small businesses is the way we're going to pay for this? It's absurd.
|2:01 PM EDT||
Jim McCrery, R-LA 4th
Mr. McCRERY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this legislation before us. Besides increasing taxes, this bill would create an untargeted emergency extended unemployment benefits program that would add to the deficit and ultimately increase State payroll taxes.
Moreover, this provision is untargeted, meaning it would pay extended unemployment benefits in all States, regardless of the availability of jobs in those States. Today's national unemployment rate is 5.0 percent. In March, 32 States had unemployment rates below 5 percent. Congress has never created a temporary extended benefits program at such a low unemployment rate. The lowest prior unemployment rate when such a program was created was 5.7 percent. Especially given today's low unemployment
rate nationwide, it just doesn't make sense to extend benefits in States where jobs are readily available.
While I do not support the legislation before us on this subject, Republicans know that laid off workers are hurting, especially in States with struggling economies where jobs are hard to find and unemployment rates are high. That is why, during committee consideration of this legislation, I supported targeting extended unemployment benefits so real help would be provided where it is needed most. Unfortunately, that effort was rebuffed in favor of the general untargeted proposal before us today.
This legislation also shows the sham that is PAYGO. The broad extended unemployment program is projected to cost $16 billion over the next 5 years and increase State payroll taxes by $1 billion over that time. And this is likely just the start. The typical temporary program in recent decades lasted about 30 months. If the program started under the legislation before us today follows that path, the ultimate cost will exceed $30 billion.
|2:03 PM EDT||
Jim McCrery, R-LA 4th
Mr. McCRERY. This program will cost about $30 billion if it follows that path.
Yet despite pledges in this House to adhere to the letter and spirit of PAYGO, this bill does neither. Our colleagues' argument is that today's economic conditions constitute an emergency. Only 20 percent of all months since 1970 had a lower unemployment rate than today. So if we're in an emergency now, when won't we be in an emergency? We may as well just have extended unemployment benefits 100 percent Federally paid for forever and ever. It doesn't make sense, and it's very costly.
|2:04 PM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
Mr. Speaker, Just Imagine! The mortal sin that we're accused of committing on this side of the aisle is believing that we ought to provide some additional economic assistance to people [Page: H3945]
who have been hit the hardest by economic dislocation and have been unemployed until their benefits have expired and haven't been able to find a job.
It's suggested that we're doing this ``on the backs'' of our fighting men and women who return home. I'd suggest it's just the opposite. When a man or a woman returns home from Iraq, when we find out that in addition to their having their reentry problem, they also, some of them, may have post-trauma stress reaction, they find out in addition to what they have to worry about for themselves, they also have to worry about the fact that their sister or their brother-in-law is now unemployed, adding
to the burden on that family.
|2:05 PM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. I yield myself 30 seconds.
I think those GIs recognize this is supposed to be a seamless society. We're supposed to help take care of the people who are in the most trouble, and I don't apologize for using some of the money that we use for veterans benefits. I don't apologize for getting that money from some of the people in this society who have had the least stress in their lives.
It seems to me that that's what the Judeo-Christian ethic is all about, and we plead fully guilty on this side of the aisle.
|2:07 PM EDT||
Rosa DeLauro, D-CT 3rd
Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Iraq provisions included in amendment No. 2 calling for the responsible redeployment of our troops to begin within 30 days. After voting against this war, I have supported the goal of responsibly redeploying our troops for over 2 years.
And after President Bush and Prime Minister al-Maliki signed a ``Declaration of Principles'' document outlining unprecedented security commitments and assurances to Iraq from the United States, I introduced the Iraq Strategic Agreement Review Act.
So today I want to voice my support for the provision that makes clear, as my bill does, that any security arrangement between the United States and Iraq will not be funded unless it comes in the form of a treaty or is specifically authorized by a law.
As we speak, the administration is negotiating a strategic framework agreement that goes well beyond a typical Status of Forces Agreement, essentially amounting to a treaty. It will need to be ratified by the Iraqi parliament, and it must be ratified by the United States Congress as well.
Mr. Speaker, this issue goes to the heart of our constitutional duties as a Congress and the power to declare war with which we have been entrusted as representatives.
I urge my colleagues to support this provision.
|2:08 PM EDT||
John Culberson, R-TX 7th
Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Speaker, I think it's important for the American people to understand that throughout the history of this Congress and this Nation that party divisions in time of war have always ended at the water's edge, until today.
Tragically, for this Congress, for this House, for the Appropriations Committee, the Speaker of the House has decided to unilaterally impose on the will of the entire Nation this appropriations bill without the benefit of a hearing, without the benefit of amendments, without the benefit of input not just from the Republican Members, Mr. Speaker, but from the Democrat Members.
It's, I think, a terrible precedent to set for this great committee that I am so proud to be a member of. I know that my colleague, Mr. Lewis, and my colleague, Chairman Obey, are both men of good will and good hearts. I know this is, I think, a particularly sad day for the institution and the Nation where 300 million Americans are not given an opportunity to be heard on a question of national security as important as the issue of funding our troops is. Never before in the history
of this institution have the entire committees, the Congress been shut out of this process.
On the aftermath of 9/11, when you could stand in front of the Capitol Building and still smell the Pentagon burning, the Congress came together and by unanimous consent agreed to approve a supplemental appropriations bill to help pay for the costs of the war. In a time of emergency with the hurricane damage in New Orleans and across the South, we all came together and agreed to do this.
But this is done unilaterally, without the consent of both sides, in a time of national emergency, and it is a travesty, Mr. Speaker. It contains provisions that have nothing to do with our troops' survival and safety in the field. To burden our troops with pork, with tax increases, with special provisions that have nothing to do with the war, adds to, I think, the obvious misuse of the process, and I urge Members to vote against the pork and support our troops.
|2:11 PM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. I yield myself 1 additional minute.
And through the Chair, I would invite the Member to name a specific piece of congressional pork in this bill. He cannot because there is none. He's at least had enough time to read the bill to know that.
The only possible piece of pork in this bill is one which we inserted at the request of the Deputy Secretary of Defense for a military hospital in Guam that came here at the request of the Secretary of Defense's office.
You can find no Member's pork in this package, and you know it as well as I do.
|2:12 PM EDT||
Zach Wamp, R-TN 3rd
Mr. WAMP. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I don't want to get into the blame game because the American people are sick and tired of the blame game. I think the truth is, Republicans screwed up running this place, and now Democrats are screwing up running this place. So there's plenty of blame to go around. And they're sick and tired of this process debate because they don't understand how it affects them.
But let me say to the people who are talking process. If the Congress is not going to work together on matters of the military funding at a time of war, the Congress is never going to work together. And that is the underlying problem, and it does affect our lives. [Page: H3946]
I've got a nephew in Iraq right now. I've got another nephew on his way to Afghanistan and that affects our lives.
I am the ranking member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. I heard my chairman, Mr. Edwards, whom I very much respect, go through 3 minutes of excellent reasons why to support this bill, but not one time did he talk about anybody on this side because we didn't have any voice in the process. He didn't compliment anything over here because we were not involved this time around. I think we should be.
And the way that they pay for the extras in this bill are with taxes. We don't want to raise your taxes. And I know that we're spending a lot of money in Iraq, but it's easy for everybody to forget, over half the Democrats in the United States Senate voted to remove Saddam Hussein by force. Almost half the Democrats in the House voted to remove Saddam Hussein by force.
The President of the United States acknowledged just a week ago that he never should have said ``Mission Accomplished,'' and he shouldn't have because it's not. We've got a long way to go.
This is the serious business of freedom, and it needs to be funded without all the extraneous stuff, and frankly, all the tricks associated with getting what they want in addition to what we need. And they're doing it with tax increases, and it's the wrong way. And I'm sorry, I'm not blaming anybody; we just need to do better.
|2:15 PM EDT||
Jim McDermott, D-WA 7th
Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, the economy has been one of the casualties of the Iraq war. And this administration has consistently refused to be interested in dealing with the problems of the unemployed.
We tried to get this introduced when we had the stimulus package some months ago. The administration didn't want to do anything with the unemployed. Long-term unemployment in this country is up to 17.9 percent. Now, you would think they would care, but they still aren't asking for it.
They have never changed their tune from 1935. They never thought we should have unemployment insurance in the Social Security Act of 1935 because they said if you give people unemployment insurance, they won't want to go to work, they will just want to sit home and get a check. That comes from people who have never been unemployed. That comes from people who don't know anybody who has ever been unemployed. It is simply nonsense.
We need to put the money into the economy. We need to give it to the workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. And this administration still sits there and says, no, we're not going to extend unemployment benefits.
There are 26 weeks in here; 13 for everybody, and 13 weeks for those States that are over 6 percent.
|2:18 PM EDT||
Jack Kingston, R-GA 1st
Mr. KINGSTON. There is money in here for the census. And I learned in eighth grade geography we do a census every 10 years. Why should that be put on an emergency bill? We know that the end of the decade comes. That funding should be done on an appropriate freestanding manner.
The Bureau of Prisons? Why are we passing that on the backs of soldiers? Contractor language. And I'm a former member of military construction and I represent four military installations. MILCON is very important to me. But why is it put on the back of a supplemental emergency bill? That is not what we do here. It should go through the regular appropriations process. It should go through a subcommittee. It should through a full committee before it comes to the House floor. It should not be an
amendment that is put on a troop's bill.
I think that if we look back in history at the way that we were sticking it to, if you will, the minority party when we were in the majority, I think you guys have a very good case for that. In fact, I respect Mr. Obey. I have a page full of quotes from him.
|2:19 PM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute to answer the gentleman's question.
The gentleman wants to know why do we have money in this bill for the census? Simple. It's because the Secretary of Commerce asked us to put it in because they've had a huge technical screw-up in the Department of the Census. The last time I looked, the Secretary of Commerce was appointed by the President of the United States, Mr. George W. Bush.
He wants to know why we have money in this bill for prisons. Simple. We've been told by the Bureau of Prisons--last time I looked, it's run by the Bush Administration--that if we didn't provide this money, because of cost overruns they're going to have to fire guards and lay off people in Federal prisons. Anybody interested in law and order I don't think is going to be happy about that.
So it seems to me it is responsible to respond to emergencies on both the domestic side and on the international side.
I'm sorry that the gentleman doesn't seem to be aware of the fact that we have, in writing, requests from both of those agencies, but that happens to be the fact. And that's the answer.
|2:21 PM EDT||
Jack Kingston, R-GA 1st
Mr. KINGSTON. I'm touched with the bipartisan support of the Democrat Party that suddenly when the Bush administration asks for something, it's like that, they get it. I'm really impressed with that.
Did you get a formal letter from OMB on the census? Because we haven't seen it on the minority side.
|2:22 PM EDT||
Jack Kingston, R-GA 1st
Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, what I would say is that these things may or may not be legitimate expenditures, but if they went through a subcommittee and a full committee and they're on a freestanding piece of legislation, that is the proper process of Congress. And when the Democrat Party was in the minority, the distinguished chairman of the Appropriations Committee was one of the biggest proponents of regular order. What we are asking for is regular order. I agree, we did it wrong, but you don't
have to repeat that.
|2:22 PM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. I yield myself 10 seconds.
Once again, when they can't argue about the substance, they whine about process. That's not going to impress very many people. It certainly didn't in Mississippi yesterday.
With that, I would like to yield 1 minute to the distinguished Speaker of [Page: H3948]
the House, the gentlewoman from California.
|2:22 PM EDT||
Nancy Pelosi, D-CA 8th
Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentleman for yielding. And I want to commend you, Chairman Obey, and Mr. Murtha, for your tireless work on behalf of our men and women in uniform, and for bringing this critical legislation to the floor today. I am particularly interested in part two and three of the resolution.
We're all grateful for the fact that this will be the last time we will vote on an Iraq supplemental in the House of Representatives. Again, I thank the chairman and the chairman for their important work in this regard.
When the House completes its work today, we will have achieved three goals. First, we will have set a new direction in Iraq that will end this sad chapter in American history and bring our brave men and women home. That is necessary because President Bush, in his request to the Congress, insists on his failed course of action in Iraq, failed from day one; day one, when they went in and thought the war would end in one day.
They're asking us to trust the same impaired judgment that took us into this war on a false premise, without the proper training and equipment for our troops, without a strategy for success or an exit strategy from Iraq.
Isn't it sad that here we are, over 5 years later, over 4,000 of our precious treasure have died, tens of thousands of our men and women in uniform have been wounded, many of them permanently. Our reputation in the world has been greatly diminished, harming our ability to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and eradicate disease and alleviate poverty, and all of the other leadership roles we have played in the past. It has come at a tremendous cost in dollars to American taxpayers,
trillions of dollars, which have taken us deeply into debt, which has taken us into recession. More on that later. But think of the opportunity cost of that money, what we could have done to invest in education and health care. We will pay any price any time to protect the American people, but not to follow the whim of the impaired judgment of this Bush administration.
Only when we finally end this war can we rebuild our military. And that is another cost of this war, diminishing the capacity of our military to meet challenges and threats to our security wherever they may occur. When we do that, we will be able to refocus our attention on the real war on terror.
So this action that we are proposing today, a new direction in Iraq that will end the war, will rebuild our military, refocus on the real war on terror, and restore our reputation in the world. That is why this legislation directs that a redeployment begin within 30 days of this bill's enactment, and with the goal of being completed by December 2009, be completed by then. The new President will have the flexibility to bring our troops home safely, honorably, responsibly, and soon.
Essential to restoring our reputation in the world is to regain our moral authority, which has been lost in this war. That is why under the conditions of this legislation torture is banned. Thank you, Mr. Murtha, for your leadership on this subject. This condition has passed this House overwhelmingly in the defense appropriation bill.
It will also ban permanent bases in Iraq. This condition has passed this House overwhelmingly on any number of occasions, over 300 votes. Insist that the Iraqis pay their fair share for reconstruction. This is a relatively new condition, but a necessary one predicated on the fact that the Iraqis are amassing a budget surplus while we're going deeply in debt to pay for their reconstruction. We're saying if we put up a dollar, you put up a dollar, dollar for dollar to participate in their reconstruction.
They have to be at least as interested in rebuilding Iraq as we are, especially when we are doing it to the neglect of our own reconstruction needs in the United States.
This legislation will also ensure that our military pays only its fair share for fuel. Do you know that in Iraq, we pay almost 2 1/2 times as much for gasoline, our military does, than the Iraqi people do? The Iraqi Government subsidizes the Iraqi people and makes our military pay more than double. And that's a new condition.
The conditions here calling for the cleaning up of waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq and reviewing of contracting passed by suspension. Over two-thirds of the House voted for this legislation that is contained in this condition. And require that any agreements with Iraq that commit U.S. forces for the protection of the Iraqi Government from an external force or from a civil war internally must be approved by the Congress of the United States.
Under the guise of a Status of Forces Agreement, the administration is committing the United States to a treaty without congressional approval. I remind the President of article I. Read the Constitution, Mr. President.
I believe that these provisions should receive bipartisan support. They have every time they have come to the floor. The only two new ones are about the cost of fuel and the dollar for dollar.
What we will also accomplish in this bill is to honor our responsibility to our men and women in uniform. I have been to the theater, to the war area, five or six times in the course of this military action, sometimes with Mr. Murtha, with Mr. Skelton, with Mr. Lantos, with our committee Chairs of jurisdiction.
And when we meet the young people there, they always say the same thing: ``What is going to happen to me when I go home?'' ``What is going to happen to me when I go home?''
Some of the soldiers were telling me about their lives at home, and one of them was very quiet, and I said to him, ``What did you do before you came to Iraq?''
He said, ``I was in high school, ma'am.'' He was in high school. He was a teenager with a gun over his shoulder. If that's necessary for our country's security, it has to happen. But this young man, a teenager, fighting that fight without any thought about what was going to happen to him when he came home.
Well, what we would like to say in the final amendment here is that when you come home, young man, we will thank you for your service to our country by sending you to college. That's what the student veterans have asked us for. That is what we have done for veterans in the past. That is what we owe these young people now. And in doing so, we will be doing a great thing not only for them but for our country because their education will be part of the economic recovery of our country. In the security
of our country, they have led the way. In the economic recovery of our country, they will be in the lead.
Third in this bill, we will begin to address America's domestic priorities. We will address the deep economic pain facing many families. As I mentioned, this war, President Bush's war, which is enabled by the complicity of the Republicans in Congress, has taken us deeply into debt, which has taken us deeply into recession, and now has taken our economy to a place where we have record numbers of people unemployed. Today 7.6 million people are unemployed. Of these, 1.4 million Americans, jobless
Americans, have been looking for work for over 6 months. And our economy has lost 260,000 jobs this year so far alone. These people need our help as they continue to seek work in this difficult economy.
Thank you, Mr. Obey, for including the unemployment insurance for America's workers in this legislation.
The contrast, I believe, Mr. Speaker, is clear. President Bush and the Republicans in Congress insist on a war without end in Iraq. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans across the country, but, sadly, too few Republicans in this House, are insisting on a New Direction. A New Direction that strengthens America's military by ending the war in Iraq. A New Direction that strengthens America's economy by investing in our veterans and our workers here at home.
We have said over and over again that one way to support our troops is to build a future worthy of their sacrifice. We can begin building that future worthy of their sacrifice by saying ``thank you'' to them and, when they come home, to send them to college.
I urge my colleagues to support the second and the third amendments that are being presented today. And in closing, I want to, as always, salute our men and women in uniform for their service, their sacrifice, their courage, [Page: H3949]
their patriotism, and with our commitment, again, to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
|2:33 PM EDT||
Thad McCotter, R-MI 11th
Mr. McCOTTER. Mr. Speaker, we find ourselves today as a minority party watching a very perplexing bill come towards us. It's perplexing in the sense that we watch a majority party which has promised America to end the war, which many of us, I think, rightly view and the world will view as an American defeat because it has failed and cannot be changed to the point where America can win. We've also watched a majority party tell us that the spending on the Iraq war has destroyed the American
economy. We can differ on that but that is their position. And we now watch the Democratic Party bring forward a bill that will fund a failed war and will evidently, by their logic, further decimate the American economy.
Now how does one come to the conclusion that this is a necessary step for said party? Well, you have discretionary spending added into it. Now, I would argue that a fine piece of legislation has been attached to this bill, which was introduced by the gentleman from Washington, to help people who are unemployed. Thanks to the policies of my State legislature, which has raised taxes and helped drive business out of Michigan, we have seen that people need unemployment insurance to get themselves
through difficult times in the hopes they can find employment.
Which brings me to the next problem with this, which is in an attempt to help veterans, we are raising taxes on small business income. Eighty percent of the income that will be taxed comes from small business. So now what we have is an attempt to show that we can fund a war that we believe has failed with money that has decimated the American economy by going overseas; yet we will try to help the unemployed, who will further suffer from this, and we will try to help veterans who come back from
that war by making sure that there are no jobs here waiting for them.
Again, it is a very perplexing bill. I would suggest to the gentleman who earlier suggested there was nothing Congress could do to end this war to rethink the position.
|2:36 PM EDT||
Thad McCotter, R-MI 11th
Mr. McCOTTER. Congress still holds the power of the purse. If the war is not funded, the war cannot continue. That's perhaps a position I disagree with, but it is a factual matter. If you are serious about this, you would do that.
Or you would have a straightforward vote on funding the troops to ensure that we continue to move forward and that America is not defeated in Iraq. You would have dealt with the McDermott bill and sent it to the President despite his veto threat because he has also threatened to veto this legislation. There would be much Republican support for this. And then you would deal with the veterans in the way they should be.
Now many friends of mine are Blue Dogs. You were not questioned on your patriotism when you determined that this money for veterans had to be offset. No one said you cared more about big government than veterans. I would suggest that those of us who want to make sure our economy recovers and do not want to tax it into submission and decimation should not have any patriotism questioned about supporting veterans by opposing tax increases and instead looking for cuts in Federal pork to pay for it.
|2:38 PM EDT||
Hal Rogers, R-KY 5th
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, we're dealing here with a bill that until today has never seen the light of day. This bill was concocted in the back room of the Speaker. We were not allowed to have input on it. We have not been allowed to have amendments. Jack Murtha's subcommittee on national defense was not allowed to have a hearing on this or discuss it with his subcommittee members. No subcommittee on appropriations was allowed to have a hearing and debate the issues.
|2:39 PM EDT||
John P. Murtha Jr., D-PA 12th
Mr. MURTHA. We did have a meeting, and I explained the part of our bill to the subcommittee, and we had no dissension at all. We had a lot of suggestions. We spent a long time on the bill. We spent at least an hour, much more time than we usually spend on a bill.
|2:39 PM EDT||
Hal Rogers, R-KY 5th
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. And the full chairman of the committee did the same thing. He didn't draft this bill. This bill was given to him. And the Members of the minority have had no say in what's in this bill.
The people of this country deserve to have their representatives in Congress have a say-so in what comes before the House and what's debated on the House floor, and we have not been given that.
This is a dictatorship here. This bill has not seen the light of day. It has not been the subject of amendments. We have not been allowed to ask questions. We didn't know what was in it until yesterday, a bill this thick.
So the process here is flawed. And it's the first time that I recollect in my 28 years here of a bill coming to the floor, an appropriations bill, without the minority's having a say-so unless they had agreed to it. This is a new procedure we are having here.
|2:41 PM EDT||
Hal Rogers, R-KY 5th
Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. That's objection number one. We did not have a chance to have a say-so on this bill. The American people have been shut out of a discussion of what's in this bill, until today.
Number two, this bill is loaded down with matters that are not related to helping the brave men and women on the battlefield on the other side.
Now, there are all sorts of amendments that you're hearing today that will be offered, one of which contains a lot of spending and a lot of spending that's not related to helping the troops overseas.
And so I am disappointed. I'm disappointed in the fact that the Appropriations Committee was bypassed, therefore the people were denied a voice, and this bill brought directly to the floor without ever having had a single day of hearings in the subcommittees and the full committee.
I urge a ``no'' vote.
|2:43 PM EDT||
Allen Boyd, D-FL 2nd
Mr. BOYD of Florida. Mr. Speaker, this bill was brought to the floor in a fiscally responsible manner. By fully funding this GI Bill for the next 10 years and paying for it up front, we have made this legislation better for our veterans and better for the American people.
We are asking those who benefit the most from living in a strong country to pay to take care of those who risk their lives to defend it instead of borrowing the money from China or bucking the costs to our children and grandchildren.
Supporting this bill is the right thing to do. And I want to thank Chairman Obey and Chairman Murtha for also including the Iraq loan provisions which will require the Iraqis to pay for the security training of their own people and the reconstruction efforts.
|2:44 PM EDT||
Jerry Lewis, R-CA 41st
Mr. LEWIS of California. As of this moment, we have one additional speaker. I may take 10 seconds to close or something like that.
|2:46 PM EDT||
Patrick Murphy, D-PA 8th
Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand with those who want a change. I am proud to fight for accountability in our foreign policy and proud to fight until our brave veterans get the benefits that they deserve.
A year ago, I called on my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to stand ready for change. I renew that same call today. Neither our troops nor our veterans can wait for us to change our foreign policy in Iraq, not until next year's sixth anniversary, or the seventh anniversary, or the tenth.
|2:47 PM EDT||
Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX 18th
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. I thank the distinguished gentleman.
I rise in opposition to one more dollar being spent on the war in Iraq but many, many dollars spent on the brave men and women. I thank the leadership and I thank this committee for allowing us to spend dollars because of a responsibility to our troops with the GI Bill.
I also offer to my constituents, but also to this body, that we have an emergency, as well, with our summer jobs program. And I hope that we will find a way to fund a summer jobs program for our youth.
Let me say that there is not a tax burden in this bill, and I thank our leadership for understanding PAYGO. This is nothing more than an opportunity for those who make over $1 million to experience the burden, if you will, of the sacrifice this Nation is making on behalf of our troops. The moneys that are expended, only $500 for those making over $1 million and more, will be given to our troops with the GI Bill of Rights.
Where do we stand? I stand with the flag on behalf of the American troops. This is a great bill. Vote against the funding for the war and vote for the redeployment of our troops, a better domestic plan, and yes, an opportunity to pass the GI Bill of Rights, the GI Bill for our young men and women.
|2:48 PM EDT||
Jerry Lewis, R-CA 41st
Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Speaker, I recognize the minority leader of the Republican side of the aisle, my colleague, John Boehner, for 1 minute.
|2:49 PM EDT||
John A. Boehner, R-OH 8th
Mr. BOEHNER. Let me thank my colleague for yielding and ask my colleagues what is it that we are doing here? We got 1 week before we break for the Memorial Day recess. Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has said we have to have the funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We know that come early June, layoff notices go out to contract employees who work at the Pentagon. Why? Because we can't seem to get this bill finished. And why can't we get it finished? Because we have a bill in front of us that has all types of unrelated spending beyond what is needed to fund our troops.
The gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis) earlier this week, introduced a clean troop funding bill, a bill that the President called for with the changes that were made up here to make sure that we got funding to the troops as quickly as possible. That is the bill that ought to be on the floor today, not a bill that handcuffs our generals, starves our troops and puts them in a position where they can't succeed in their mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The bill also includes a $54 billion tax hike on small businesses around the country. And if there is a time when we don't need to be raising taxes on small businesses, it is now. They are the engine of new job growth in our country. And what are we going to do? We are going to put more taxes on them.
I think that what we are doing here is that we are playing political games on the backs of our troops. You know it. All this bill is going to do is delay the process for weeks and weeks and weeks while we play political games because you know the President is not going to sign this bill.
Why don't we move Mr. Lewis' bill? We can do it today. We can do it early next week. It is a clean troop funding bill that takes care of our troops and honors them on the eve of Memorial Day instead of playing political games on their backs.
|2:51 PM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. I guess by default I am the last remaining speaker. The majority leader is otherwise occupied and so I would ask the gentleman to proceed.
|2:51 PM EDT||
Jerry Lewis, R-CA 41st
Mr. LEWIS of California. With that, Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed in many ways this discussion today. But most particularly, I have enjoyed having a chance to review the comments, sometimes even the lectures, of my colleague, the chairman of the committee, over the years. It wasn't that long ago that I had the chance to be the chairman myself. And earlier today, I used a quote from the then-ranking member of the committee in which he, in part, said, ``The American people know that, once again,
Congress is putting partisan political considerations ahead of the needs of the American people.''
He protested so much. In that same conversation, Mr. Obey went on to say, ``In my view, the quickest way to end this political nonsense is to vote `no' on this bill so that we can send the President a bill which is respectable, responsible and can be signed.''
I must say that serving in the ranking member position at this point in time, I couldn't more heartily adopt the words of my colleague when he formerly had a position like mine.
In the meantime, this bill goes forward. The chairman knows full well that the bill that was written in the corner of this building by a couple of hands is going nowhere. It is very likely to be vetoed. In turn, he is repeating that very process he was protesting against so strongly not so long ago.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
|2:53 PM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the remainder of the time.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want Members to understand this bill was not written in the Speaker's office or any other leadership office. Virtually every appropriation issue of this bill was [Page: H3953]
written in the Appropriations Committee. We did not, obviously, write language that has previously passed the House under the control of other committees. The Energy and Commerce Committee produced the language, for instance, on the Medicaid rules. And the authorizing
committee produced the language on unemployment compensation. That's normal.
In fact, the Speaker herself was joking the other day and teasing me, indicating that there were three items that she had wanted in the bill that the committee had turned down. So I would suggest this is not quite the dictatorship that the myth-makers on the other side of the aisle are trying to portray.
Having said that, let me explain what it is we are doing here today, since the minority leader was courteous enough to ask. What we are trying to do is to recognize a sad fact, which is that as long as George Bush is President of the United States, we are not going to be able to shut down the war. So what we are trying to do is proceed in the most responsible possible manner in order to assure that the next President, whoever he or she is, has at least 3 or 4 months to think through how he or
she would get us out of this god-awful mess in Iraq, which I regard to be the most misguided foreign policy decision in my lifetime.
What we are trying to do is to recognize that we do not have a majority in the United States Senate to shut down this war. And so we are looking at ways to provide Members with an opportunity to speak out on whether they want to see that war funding go ahead or not, a straight up-or-down vote. No coercion, at least on this side of the aisle, no whipping that question on this side of the aisle. Members were told, ``Vote your conscience.''
We are also trying to do two other things. We are trying, once again, to attach conditions to the use of this money. Now I myself will vote against the first amendment because I have no guarantee that the conditions in the second amendment will survive Senate action. If they did, I would be perfectly comfortable with the first amendment because I think the first amendment is a straight effort to do what I just described a minute ago.
But the reason we want to pursue the second amendment is because we think it is about time that the Iraqis, now that they are generating oil surpluses and budget surpluses, we believe it is about time that they begin to assume the costs of their own reconstruction, at least 50 percent of it. This is why we have a 50-50, dollar-for-dollar match requirement which we are imposing on the Iraqis if we are to be expected to spend any more money in reconstructing Iraq. We think that's eminently sensible.
We also think it is about time that Iraq quit overcharging the U.S. military for the price of gasoline. There is no reason why we should be paying through the nose at a much higher price than Iraqis are paying for gasoline.
And then thirdly, we are asking the President of the United States to remember that the United States of America still exists, too, and that there are some problems that we need to address here. In fact, the administration itself has recognized some of them because the administration sent down a reprogramming request to deal with the problem of the Bureau of Prisons. They sent down a reprogramming request to deal with the census. We didn't think we ought to fix those problems by cutting even
more deeply into local law enforcement funding, because those budgets have already been cut far too much. So we rejected the way that the administration wanted to pay for those items. And instead we have included them in this bill fully, fully paid for.
We also have the temerity to believe that if we are going to fight this war, then we ought to also provide a thank you note, a healthy thank you note, for the people who fought the war on our behalf. That is why we are insistent that we pass the expansion of the GI Bill so that you can take people whose lives have been turned upside-down for years, military families from the east coast to the west coast, their lives have been disrupted for years. We want to say ``we want to at least partially
compensate you by giving you the opportunity for a full, 4-year college education at any State university in your State.'' And we have provisions that will even expand beyond that if they go to other schools that also participate in helping finance their education. We make no apology for including that.
We have heard from at least three speakers on that side of the aisle that we are providing $51 billion for that on the backs of the soldiers.
It isn't on their backs. It's an effort to help them. I would point out in the previous GI Bill in World War II, this country got a return of $7 for every dollar that it invested in the GI Bill. We recognize the value of doing that again. We recognize the moral obligation of doing that again, and we make no apology in going forward with it.
We also make no apology for recognizing that when we have millions of Americans unemployed, that there is no harm done by providing to those who have been unemployed the longest and have exhausted their benefits, with 13 weeks of additional assistance as those people look for jobs. This Congress sits here in a comfortable room making $160,000 a year, nickel nursing about our efforts to provide a few additional benefits to people who have been unemployed that long.
If we don't vote for that provision, we ought to be ashamed of ourselves. I ask each and every Member to vote your conscience. I am not going to tell you how to vote on any of the amendments. I will be voting against the first, for the second and the third.
But I urge us to get on with it. This is the only way that we can get the problem dealt with.