MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, MILITARY QUALITY OF LIFE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007 -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 26, 2006)
The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 5385) making appropriations for the military quality of life functions of the Department of Defense, military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, and for other purposes:
* Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Chairman, the Military Quality of Life-Veteran's Administration appropriations bill we are voting on today is not nearly as good a bill as it should have been. I will support it today, but I'm very disappointed in the Republican leadership's priorities reflected in this legislation.
* The House Armed Services Committee, on which I sit, authorized these projects in the authorization bill that the House passed earlier this month. The Administration budget also requested these 20 projects, all of which are conventional military construction projects--things like hangars, barracks and unit headquarters.
* To try to square the military priorities funded in this bill with the budget resolution the Republican leadership forced through the House, the Appropriations Committee used budget gimmickry to designate $507 million for 20 routine military construction projects as an `emergency' so that this funding would not count against the bill's allocation.
* Those in the Republican leadership concerned more about finding money for tax cuts than for our troops decided to cut these military construction projects today. Because of the projects' `emergency' funding status, Republicans chose to strike all $507 million.
* Regardless of whether or not they are labeled as `emergency funding,' for bookkeeping reasons, they are valid and needed projects, selected through long-term planning exercises developed by the services, vetted through the Administration, and requested by the President.
* The fact that the Republican budget put tax cuts ahead of the needs of our troops strikes me as backward and wrong. These are military priorities as defined by the President of the United States, and the majority chose to ignore them. They want to have it both ways--to say they support the troops, but also to be able to cut taxes for wealthy Americans. If this isn't a good example of how this approach doesn't work, I don't know what is.