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Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

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Location: Washington, DC

TRANSPORTATION, TREASURY, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, THE JUDICIARY, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 30, 2005)

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Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding and for her leadership on this important subject. As a distinguished member of the Appropriations Committee, she has been a voice for strong national security in our country, including this initiative today.

Mr. Chairman, I believe that the comments of the previous speaker speak eloquently to the need for us to get our fiscal House in order because we are seeing the consequences of going so deeply in debt to other countries where we are really held hostage in terms of our own decision making because they own our debt.

Mr. Chairman, the Chinese National Overseas Oil Company's bid to acquire UNOCAL Corporation is a graphic example of America's energy vulnerability. President Bush should refuse to prove the acquisition and Congress should indicate its disapproval as well.

I urge my colleagues to support the gentlewoman from Michigan's amendment. And again I thank her for her leadership on this issue.

The Chinese bid for UNOCAL is compelling evidence of America's strategic energy vulnerability. China has clearly decided to meet its growing demand by obtaining control of energy assets around the world.

I would say to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran), it is true, China will turn to Iran and Sudan and other countries. In fact, they already have. Arrangements have been made in Iran, Sudan, Venezuela and other places that illustrate their strategy. With the UNOCAL bill the Chinese plan reaches our doorstep. The Chinese government's control of CNOOC made the bid possible, not the free market.

My Republican colleagues and Democratic colleagues who are all dedicated to the free market system should understand that this is not a free market transaction. Government-provided low interest loans allow the company to bid at rates not otherwise available. And if acquisition of UNOCAL is critical to the Chinese, they would probably allow the bid to be increased to any level needed to seal the deal.

Control of energy assets by China means China controls where those assets go and when. That raises serious national security concerns for the United States. Among those other serious national security concerns are the transfer of technology associated with the UNOCAL acquisition. It is reported that China could assume ownership of the cavitation technology with applications. Cavitation is a process which UNOCAL uses to go into deep water drilling for oil. That same technology can be used by the Chinese to do nuclear tests underground and to mask them so we would not ever be able to detect them. It would also have applications again for locating matter in deep water.

Given China's commitment to improving its military capabilities, why would the United States permit the sale of this kind of technology? Left on its own, we probably would not. But as part of the UNOCAL deal, it is being pulled through with this Trojan horse.

The reason the Chinese believed a bid for UNOCAL could succeed, as the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran) mentioned in his support, no, his opposition to our position, the reason the Chinese believe a bid for UNOCAL could succeed lies in our dependence on them to finance a significant portion of our massive budget deficit. Our reliance on the Chinese to finance our debt gives them far too much leverage over our decision making process.

I go back, you know, 15 years now, our arguments that expanded trade with China would result in increased freedom for the Chinese people. We were proved wrong long ago. At that time just before Tiananmen Square, our trade deficit with China was $3.5 billion a year. And we thought, with that huge trade deficit that it would give us leverage for improving China's human rights record, for improving their behavior in terms of fair trade and for stopping China's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We failed in persuading Congress to do that, and today the trade deficit with China, not $3.5 billion a year, has grown to $3.5 billion a week. $3.5 billion a week. With all that capital China is able to purchase our debt, have leverage over us so that now we have to, hopefully not, but some believe, agree to their buying a strategic asset which UNOCAL represents. Our reliance on China to finance our debt weakens our ability to influence China on human rights, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, North Korea, you name it.

This is the price we pay for failing to live within our means, and it is long past time we recognize that danger and addressed it. On that, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran) and I agree. Let us heed the wake up call provided by the Chinese bid for UNOCAL. Let us get serious on both issues, reducing risk in energy by adopting an innovative energy policy for the 21st century and getting our fiscal House in order.

And again, I caution our colleagues that a serious transfer of technology that would be contained in this purchase of UNOCAL and urge our colleagues to support the Kilpatrick amendment.

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Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Chairman, I thank the distinguished gentleman for yielding me this time, and I acknowledge the great leadership of the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Knollenberg) as the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee.

I say to the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey), every chance I get I want to salute his leadership, his championing the rights of America's families and now today something that should be very clear and obvious, but having to make the point that we should have truth and honesty in our dealings with the American people.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Obey amendment.

It is ridiculous that we are debating on the floor of the people's House the need for truth. The need for truths is self-evident.

The truth and trust are fundamental to a democracy. We owe every American the truth in our dealings here. All Americans, as I say, deserve the truth. But our veterans deserve it even more. They are willing to make the supreme sacrifice for us. They are courageous, they are patriotic. They have given us the opportunity to have peace on Earth, good will to men over generations, and now they are not being dealt with honestly.

The need for truth is made painfully clear in the current crisis we are facing on veterans health care funding shortfalls. On April 5, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said, ``I can assure you the VA does not need emergency supplemental funds in FY 2005 to continue to provide timely quality service.''

Last week, less than 3 months later, Secretary Nicholson and the Bush administration finally acknowledged their failed budgetary policies and misplaced priorities and owned up to the shortfall in veterans funding. In the meantime, the supplemental bill passed the Congress, went to the President's desk without covering that shortfall because of the misrepresentations that were made by the Secretary to the Congress.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. Over the past 2 years, Democrats have stood shoulder to shoulder with veteran service organizations calling for adequate funding for the VA. Time after time, Democrats have put forward proposals to increase funding for our veterans, and time after time Republicans have voted them down. We have had straight party line votes. There have been some moments of clarity and truth from Republicans in this fight.

In February 2004, Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi acknowledged the inadequacy of President Bush's FY 2005 budget for the VA. He said, ``I asked OMB for $1.2 billion more than I received.'' It was his professional judgment that that $1.2 billion was needed a year and a half ago for fiscal year 2005 and here we are today still without it. Secretary Principi knew then that the Bush budget was inadequate.

The Committee on Veterans' Affairs chairman, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith), knew that the Bush budget was inadequate. That is why he joined the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Evans), a champion for veterans, in calling for additional funds for the VA.

The result? Not increasing funding for veterans but ousting the chairman, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith), for daring to stand up to the Republican leadership and a new VA Secretary who hides the truth so that he can be in lockstep with the failed budgetary policies and misplaced priorities of this administration.

How can we even face our veterans when we as a Congress say to them, and as a country, including the President, it is more important to us, we place a higher value in giving the people who make over a million dollars a year, $140,000 in tax cuts, but we are not giving you the health benefits that you earned, that you deserve, and that you were promised.

Democrats are united on this issue. Every single Democrat joined me yesterday in writing to President Bush calling for an emergency supplemental to fund veterans health care. This should not be partisan and I hope that later today we will right this wrong. But even if we pass a bill on the floor today, we will go into the Fourth of July weekend without correcting the situation, because it would have to come back after the recess, go into conference, et cetera, pass the Senate with which there is no guarantee.

Our veterans deserve nothing less than our honoring our commitment to them.

Mr. Chairman, in time of war, the military says we will leave no soldier behind on the battlefield. When they come home we must leave no veteran behind when it comes to delivering our promises to them.

Our Founding Fathers, over 200 years ago, declared independence with their wisdom, their enlightenment, their courage, and their willingness to sacrifice, they launched what would become the United States of America, a free and independent country. Our veterans have kept us that way. We honor our Founding Fathers' vision and we honor the sacrifice of our veterans, our men and women in uniform, when we keep our promises to them. We owe them nothing less. I support the Obey amendment.

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