PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 5631, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007
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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the rule and the underlying bill, and from the outset I want to commend Chairman Young of Florida and the ranking member, Mr. Murtha of Pennsylvania, for their leadership on this bipartisan bill and for all they do each and every day for our military and their families.
As my colleagues have noted, H.R. 5631 includes over $427 billion in discretionary funding, including an additional $50 billion provided in what is called the very critical Bridge Fund to support ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 90 percent of this funding will go to the Army and Marine units that are taking the fight directly to our enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Mr. Speaker, our committee's allocation is $4 billion below the President's request. This presented the committee with some significant challenges. We looked carefully at programs in the President's budget, and we made selected reductions. We also recommended less funding for programs encountering technological problems and developmental delays. With many competing challenges facing our military as we prosecute the global war on terror, this was not an easy task; but we believe we made appropriate choices to allow us to deter our enemies and yet enhance the high-intensity combat capability of our forces.
Mr. Speaker, as we consider this important legislation, we must remain mindful that our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, mind you all volunteers, regular military, Guard, and Reserve, are literally on the battlefield as we speak, brave men and women fighting a new kind of war where everybody literally is on the front line. As we all know, the Army and Marines are carrying the brunt of the battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, with an unprecedented level of partnership by their Guard and Reserve components, and young men and women from the Air Force and Navy stand with them. Their service and dedication on the battlefields of these countries are making our Nation safer from terrorists who seek to do us and other freedom-loving nations harm.
Make no mistake, our success in Iraq is hugely important. Our enemies in Iraq are thinking enemies; they are adaptable and would like nothing better than to see us withdraw prematurely, set arbitrary dates for withdrawal, and then come back after our departure to reinstall another despot or regime even more oppressive, more fanatical, and more horrendous and more dangerous than the last.
The bottom line is that we should never forget that the soldiers we support through this appropriations bill have freed nearly 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan from killer regimes where protest and dissent were answered by killing fields and genocide, where women were denied basic freedoms, education, health care, and the vote.
Of course, the loss of any young soldier is heartbreaking; so are the deaths of innocent civilians killed by roadside and vehicle-borne bombs, or suicide bombers. We are dealing with Saddam loyalists, jihadists, imported terrorists, and domestic criminals who play by no rules and do not hesitate to bomb Iraqi weddings, mosques, funerals, and gatherings of children, school children as a common tactic.
Since we are engaged in the global war on terrorism with Afghanistan and Iraq being countries of conflict and violence, our soldiers and marines and others in the military need every possible advantage. This legislation provides our fighting men and women with the resources they need to be more deployable, more agile, more flexible, more interoperable, and more lethal in the execution of their missions. It provides for better training, better equipment, better weapons.
Of course, our bill supports the troops by providing a pay increase, enhanced life insurance coverage, and housing allowances. Mr. Speaker, I also welcome increased funding for research and development in this bill. Our bill exceeds the President's budget by $2.2 billion so we can speed important new technology from the drawing board to the laboratory, to the test bed, and into the arsenal of our warfighters.
My colleagues, the global war on terror will not be short. It will require deep and enduring commitment. And looking down the road, we face many potential threats and we cannot know what lies ahead, but this appropriations bill will give us the resources to do the job and to support our young men and women who do that job of liberty each and every day.
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