ORDERLY AND RESPONSIBLE IRAQ REDEPLOYMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - November 14, 2007)
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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise in strong opposition to this legislation, the process that brought it here tonight, but not to the money that is badly needed for our troops in the field.
For each of the last 3 years, the Defense appropriations bill, ably led by Chairman Young and Chairman Murtha, has included a straightforward bridge fund to cover the cost of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Indeed, the continuing resolution we passed last month gave our military access to the bridge funding until November 16. This funding allowed our warfighters, all volunteers, the ability to fuel their Stryker vehicles and Humvees, restock their ammunition, resupply their mess halls, power the systems that allow them to keep in touch with their families at home, and even to ship their new MRAP vehicles to the battle zone so they may be better protected from IEDs. And yes, protect their fellow soldiers and innocent Iraqis.
But bowing to antiwar sentiment, the majority leadership pointedly chose to keep this important bridge funding out of the defense bill that we approved last week.
So while our brave warfighters are hard at work in Iraq in a hellish environment, they find they have to watch their own backs from those in Washington who want to choke off funding for their missions, both military and humanitarian.
I submit that this deliberate attempt to starve our operations in Iraq threatens the very safety of those troops and the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. No, Mr. Speaker, we should be sending to the President a clean bridge fund that does not tie the hands of commanders in the field and allows them to build on their undeniable successes in recent months in Iraq. Cutting money does tie their hands, limits those commanders' options, as does the setting of date certain.
My colleagues, the ill-advised process this House started last week is not without its costs. While Congress deliberately procrastinates, and some say throws roadblocks in front of our brave warriors battling violent international terrorists every day, military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will run out of money, causing the Department of Defense to borrow from other important programs to support their operations.
I am told this process could completely drain the Army's operations and maintenance accounts by the end of next January.
In fact, it is my understanding that the Deputy Secretary of Defense has warned that the military would have to start preparing in December, next month, to close domestic military facilities, lay off civilian workers, and delay contracts if the bridge funding is not provided. This could have very damaging consequences for those communities privileged to host a military installation.
Mr. Speaker, I am also troubled that this bill requires the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and slaps restrictions on the mission of U.S. troops, again, both military and humanitarian.
This harkens back to what was recently described by the junior Senator from Connecticut as the ``narrative of defeat and retreat.'' As Senator Lieberman said yesterday, and I quote, ``Rather than supporting General Petraeus and our troops in the field, antiwar advocates in Congress are instead struggling to deny or disparage their achievements, and are now acting, once again, to hold hostage the funding our troops desperately need and to order retreat by a date certain, regardless of what is happening on the ground.''
I would remind my colleagues that even the Iraq Study Group warned us against setting arbitrary deadlines. We should let the troops and their commanders do their work.
I have always maintained that our brave troops' service in Iraq should be as short and as safe as possible. This legislation does nothing to advance either of these goals. I urge rejection of this bill.
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