WAIVING POINTS OF ORDER AGAINST CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2863, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - December 18, 2005)
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Mr. COOPER. Mr. Speaker, if anyone needed evidence that this Congress is being managed in an incompetent and corrupt fashion, tonight's debate is it.
At 2 o'clock in the morning we are finally taking up some of the most important defense bills of the year, only to find them burdened with irrelevant, special-interest measures that have nothing to do with the underlying legislation. Pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, and Lord knows what other special interests are probably smiling at this late hour, but the average taxpayer back home should be ashamed of what we are doing tonight, especially in the name of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines.
We have just learned that many of these special interest provisions were added in the dark of night, with no notice even to the conferees. What are they afraid of? Why don't they want us to read and understand the added language? Why not let the public see what is really going on? It was not enough for the Republican leadership to almost completely exclude any real bipartisan discussion or debate in conference, and to so radically short-circuit the democratic process that this year's process may mark an all-time low in the history of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Speaker, as our troops risk their lives to promote democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, we should not be degrading our democracy here at home. I strongly support the troops and the many excellent provisions in the defense authorization and appropriations bills on their behalf. We should honor their sacrifice by passing legislation for them, not using them as a shield for special interests. We should also honor them by refusing the $4 billion cut in the defense budget that was inserted in this bill in order to fund the extraneous provisions. You didn't hear about that defense cut, did you, while the Republicans were bragging on their efforts on defense.
The only reason these special interest provisions have been added is that Republican leadership knows that they could not pass in the light of day, when the public is allowed to see what we are doing. These provisions could not pass on their own strength, in either day or night.
Given the few minutes that we have been allowed to read these conference reports of many hundreds of pages, no one on the House floor tonight really knows what is contained in these bills because all normal House procedures have broken down. Rumors are rampant that other embarrassments have been added to worthy defense bills, simply because they are viewed as ``must pass'' legislation. We simply don't have time to verify or debunk these rumors. The only safe vote tonight for the American taxpayer is a ``no'' vote. Let's stay in session a few more days, even though the Christmas holiday approaches, and do the job right. Our troops deserve no less.
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