|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.