IRAQ WAR RESOLUTION
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of House Concurrent Resolution 63.
I thank the Armed Services Committee chairman, Mr. Skelton, for carrying this legislation in support of our military troops and opposing the President's plan to send at least 21,500 more troops to Iraq.
I speak today as a proud veteran who served in the United States armed service as a paratrooper in the 101st and 82nd Airborne Division.
As a veteran and as a Congressman, I voted against this war in year 2002 because no one could convince me why we had to be there in the first place. I was tormented with this decision. I talked to many of my constituents. I called the bishop in my area. I couldn't see what invading Iraq had to do with securing the homeland. No one in the administration could convince me that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But we sent our troops there anyway, without proper training or proper equipment.
This administration was in such a hurry to invade Iraq that we sent our military in there with defective body armor and Hummers that couldn't withstand the roadside bombs. In fact, before Congress made any appropriations for an Iraq invasion, the President took $600 million from our troops in Afghanistan and sent it to Iraq.
The administration has refused to listen to its own generals, to Congress or to the American people. They just do what they want.
After September 11, I was willing to do anything to make our country safe, like all of us. We came together in a bipartisan way. I believed in fighting terrorists in Afghanistan was the right thing to do, but the current situation in Iraq proves what we have been saying all along, that the Iraq war has not and will not make America safer. Instead, it is costing the American taxpayers $200 million every day. The money that we spent in Iraq could have sent 17 million high school students to college. Can you imagine, 17 million students going on to college right now that we could have provided assistance to, or paid for 6 million new school teachers, reduced the student ratio, funded the No Child Left Behind Act, or help with Katrina. But more money has been spent on this war, and yet it is costing us money for those that are losing their lives right now.
Over 3,000 men and women have given their lives for this war, and over 23,000 are coming home wounded or disabled. Mr. Speaker, over 10,000 of these troops are so severely wounded that they will never be able to serve again. Let me tell you, and you have to look at them, never able to serve again.
Now the President wants to send 21,500 more troops to the most dangerous part of Iraq. Why? Why are we sending our troops to fight in another country's civil war? Mr. Speaker, this isn't a strategy for success. This is a desperation attempt by the administration who can't admit that they made a mistake. They made a mistake, and they need to admit it. And the sooner we come to this realization, the better off this country will be. As a veteran, I understand that sometimes war is necessary, but as a veteran, I also know that war should always be the last resort because war means someone's sons and daughters won't come home. That means separating parents from their children, leaving their homes, someone making a sacrifice.
In my home State of California alone, we have lost 325 men and women in Iraq. Back in my home district, we have lost 10 outstanding young men. It just breaks my heart. Mr. Speaker, you don't put the American families through this kind of pain unless you are sure, beyond any shadow of doubt, that there are no other options. The President had failed to convince me in 2002, and I am still not convinced to this day.
I say let's support this resolution. Let's bring back our men.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT