CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2863, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - December 18, 2005)
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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2006.
I am deeply troubled by the process that has brought us to where we are today with this important bill. Just hours ago, the final text of this bill was made available to members of Congress and the public. This has ensured that members will not only not have time to fully consider or analyze the provisions within this bill we didn't even have time to read it. This is a poor way to govern and I am disappointed that the majority has chosen to abuse the process so badly on what is traditionally a mostly bipartisan bill.
I supported the version of this bill that we passed in the House over the summer. That version appropriated more than $400 billion for the Department of Defense. It would have helped to keep faith with our service members by providing them with a much needed pay increase. That bill also provided funding for our service members on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan who are waiting for additional body armor and up armored HUMVEEs.
Unfortunately, the majority decided to destroy that bill by loading it up with special interests goodies. What they've done is the height of irresponsibility. Our service members should have every resource they need to do their job to protect, and defend the American people and they should be able to rely on Congress to do its job ethically and thoroughly. But the Republican leadership has chosen to play politics with our soldiers and our country's national security.
This bill before us now contains important funding for various defense related programs, but it also contains a one percent across-the-board cut in all discretionary spending, except for the Department of Veteran Affairs. This means cuts to food assistance programs, home heating oil assistance, local law enforcement grants, first responder grants, special education programs, the FBI, the No Child Left Behind Act, job and employment assistance grants, and environmental clean up regardless of the problems they cause.
Further, it contains a provisions allowing for a voucher program for schools, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Both were tucked in this bill at the last moment.
Mr. Speaker, we can do better.
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