|3:02 PM EDT||
Randy Cunningham, R-CA 50th
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, I may not be able to be here during the debate on an amendment for veterans, and I wanted to speak to it. I want to offer a little history, but I think it is a balanced history from both sides. I remember when President Clinton's budget on the veterans, the VFW, the American Legion, Vietnam veterans, all rallied against the budget because it cut veterans health care. We worked with the other body, both of us on both sides of the aisle; and even some of those that voted with President
Clinton on his budget voted with us to restore that health care by $1 billion.
We have increased veterans health care by 16 percent. But it is not enough. There is a shortfall and we must attend to it.
Historically, this body works with the other body in conference and I believe that some of those dollars will come forward, maybe not what we all want, but I believe some of those dollars will come together for veterans health care.
I remember in 1993 when my colleagues occupied the White House, the House and the Senate, veterans COLAs were cut. Military COLAs were cut. And there was a tax increase on the middle income.
In 1994, when Republicans took the majority, together with Republicans and Democrats, many of the same Democrats that voted with the President on his budget restored the military COLAs. We worked together to restore the veterans COLAs. And I would have to say probably on this side we will take a little more credit for restoring and reducing the tax on the middle class.
We have worked together, although we have not got what we want on concurrent receipts. For 40 years my colleagues on the other side did not address concurrent receipts. And we have. But at the same time, when it has been addressed under a Republican majority, then the Democrats have come forward and helped us.
Two different sessions we have passed bills on concurrent receipts together. And now there is a bipartisan commission going forward to see what direction we will write down.
I look at TRICARE for life, which we worked together on.
Subvention. I did not write the subvention bill, but my veterans in San Diego, California wrote that bill and put it forward, basically, where you can use Medicare dollars at VA health care.
The Filipino Veterans Equity Act. One of the gentlemen on the other side I very rarely vote with. But we worked together to restore the promise that was made to our Filipino veterans back during the MacArthur days, and we have worked together on that as well.
You do not have to look far to see where we come together, and I do not think any Member on either side of the aisle can look at another one and say, you do not care about veterans; you do not care about our military; you do not care about our Guard and Reserve. That is just not true.
Some people vote against military issues. Maybe their district has got extreme poverty and it is a way of funding their issues and their problems. It does not mean they do not care about the military itself.
The Republican budget looked at many years of substantial increases and almost every account, including veterans, including education and health care. But we decided to get our arms around the deficit. [Page: H5295]
Many of my colleagues on both sides talk about the deficit and the debt. If we, as Members, or you, Mr. Chairman, if you have got a checkbook and you spend more than you are going to take in, you are going to be bankrupt, and you are going to have less in the future to spend. For us to get our arms around this budget and still fund our priorities, I think we will when we come together with the other body.
A classic case of savings: the welfare reform bill passed many years ago which was lauded by President Clinton as one of the best bills to help people in this country. I also happen to agree with him.
But at the same time we have gone through these increases, we have been fighting the war on terror. If you look at Kadafi, his nuclear weapons are in the United States today. And even more important, we have found the black market that supported North Korea, Pakistan, India, and others. What kind of value is that to us, not just to our veterans, but our military and our homeland security?
I mentioned a minute ago Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Hambali and Abu Halibi, the people that were actually planning raids on the United States. Now, those people are all made up of military that then become veterans, and we owe them a priority.