PASCRELL OPPOSES NO STRINGS' WAR FUNDING, VOTES TO RESTORE GI BILL FOR IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETS
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) today voted against an amendment that would continue funding the war in Iraq without any conditions. Following the amendment's passage in the House of Representatives, Pascrell voted to approve a separate amendment that included measures to limit America's financial and military commitments in Iraq. The amendment would require the Iraqi government to match U.S. reconstruction costs on a dollar-for-dollar basis. It would also preclude the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.
"The war in Iraq has lasted far too long and has recklessly put the lives and livelihood of too many American troops in danger," stated Pascrell. "With over 4,100 of our brave sons and daughters killed and more than 30,000 diagnosed with injuries, it is time they come home. After five years, this war has lasted longer than America's military involvement in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Civil War. Furthermore it has taken away from our military's focus on fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the epicenter of the war on terror."
"I remain fully committed to the withdrawal of America's troops from the war in Iraq," stated Pascrell. "Though I am disappointed a time line for withdrawal wasn't included in this emergency funding measure, I'm pleased Congress is moving to defray the cost of the war and preclude the construction of permanent military bases in Iraq."
Pascrell was also pleased with an initiative he voted to approve in the legislation which would expand the GI Bill to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education for veterans and allow them to transfer education benefits to their spouses or dependents. 5,904 veterans are currently enrolled in New Jersey colleges, while another 3,770 are still serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The extension of education benefits to America's brave veterans is a small but meaningful tribute to the incredible sacrifices they have endured for us," stated Pascrell. "I am pleased that the new GI Bill will be available to future veterans and extend retroactively to those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. The services we extend to our veterans will never match the service they performed for America overseas, but the restoration of education benefits will unquestionably help veterans adjust back to civilian life. The new GI Bill will help veterans stimulate the economy in the same way that the veterans of World War II lifted America out of a difficult economic climate. With thousands of New Jersey National Guard members deploying to Iraq this summer, I hope they find some relief knowing they will return home with a check made out for four years of college."
Another important component of the legislation would help stimulate the economy by extending 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to those seeking work during this economic downturn.
"With New Jersey's unemployment rate matching its highest level in two years, our state economy stands to take another hit if Republicans in the Senate don't approve the House-passed extension of unemployment benefits for those seeking work. A temporary extension of unemployment benefits is a proven stimulus that has been implemented in the past to help America climb out of challenging economic conditions. It should be implemented again. I have fought hard in the House to approve this 13-week extension of unemployment benefits, and will continue to do so until the measure is marked with the President's signature. It is time the President and Republicans in Congress stop playing games and embrace a measure that history and leading economist tell us will stimulate the economy and help working class families."