An Investment in our Future Security
By Tom Cole
This week I attended a speech at the George Washington University, where the President continued to outline our strategy in Iraq. I believe the President has made his case. We must stay the course in Iraq. I cannot stress enough the importance of our mission there in light of the War on Terror. Failure in Iraq would be devastating for the Iraqi people, for America and for the cause of freedom and democracy around the world.
This week the House will take up an important piece of legislation that provides our troops with the resources they need to continue the fight in Iraq and the War on Terror. The supplemental appropriation bill provides $67.6 billion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I believe the supplemental spending bill is an important investment in our future security.
The supplemental spending bill provides much needed equipment to keep our soldiers safe. It adds $850 million over the President's request to ensure that Army combat vehicles are upgraded and available to National Guard units deploying to combat regions and troops currently in the field. The bill provides $890 million for newer, safer humvees. It also fully funds the nearly $2 billion request to procure and develop countermeasures to prevent improvised explosive devices attacks on our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The supplemental fully funds the recently enhanced $400,000 life insurance benefits for service members and $100,000 death gratuity for combat related fatalities. These additional benefits are a small but appropriate response for soldiers who have given their life in service to their country.
The bill includes $423 million to allow military commanders in the field to conduct small scale, urgent reconstruction projects. This project originated from a request by members who had traveled to Iraq and heard the needs on the ground from the field commanders. The bill also fully funds the administration's $4.85 billion request to train and equip security forces of Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is expected that this legislation will create quite a debate on the House floor. I have been chosen to lead the first portion of the debate for those who favor the passage of this vital measure. I am proud to do so. Some will say we should cut and run-- but I believe we must finish what we started. America has so much at stake in this war and our troops need these resources to carry out their mission.