Relating to the Liberation of the Iraqi People and the Valiant Service of the U.S. Armed Forces and Coalition Forces

By:  Hilda Solis
Date: March 17, 2004
Location: Washington, DC


RELATING TO THE LIBERATION OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE AND THE VALIANT SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES AND COALITION FORCES -- (House of Representatives - March 17, 2004)

Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 561, I call up the resolution (H. Res. 557) relating to the liberation of the Iraqi people and the valiant service of the United States Armed Forces and Coalition forces, and ask for its immediate consideration.

The Clerk read the title of the resolution.

The text of House Resolution 557 is as follows:

H. Res. 557

Whereas Saddam Hussein and his regime committed crimes against humanity, systematically violating the human rights of Iraqis and citizens of other countries;

Whereas Saddam Hussein's terror regime subjected the Iraqi people to murder, torture, rape, and amputation;

Whereas on March 16, 1988, Saddam Hussein's regime had and unleashed weapons of mass destruction against Kurdish citizens, killing nearly 5,000 of them;

Whereas as many as 270 mass grave sites, containing the remains of as many as 400,000 victims of Saddam Hussein's regime, have been found in Iraq;

Whereas rape was used to intimidate the Iraqi population, with victims often raped in front of their families;

Whereas the regime punished the Marsh Arabs by draining the marshlands, which created hundreds of thousands of refugees and caused an ecological catastrophe;

Whereas the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-338), passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 360 to 38, made it United States policy to support efforts to remove from power the regime headed by Saddam Hussein;

Whereas with the Iraqi regime failing to comply with 16 previously adopted United Nations Security Council resolutions, the Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1441 on November 8, 2002, declaring that Iraq "has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq's failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors"; and

Whereas on October 10, 2002, the House of Representatives passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243) and on March 19, 2003, the United States initiated military operations in Iraq: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives-

(1) affirms that the United States and the world have been made safer with the removal of Saddam Hussein and his regime from power in Iraq;

(2) commends the Iraqi people for their courage in the face of unspeakable oppression and brutality inflicted on them by Saddam Hussein's regime;

(3) commends the Iraqi people on the adoption of Iraq's interim constitution; and

(4) commends the members of the United States Armed Forces and Coalition forces for liberating Iraq and expresses its gratitude for their valiant service.

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Ms. SOLIS. Mr. Speaker, it has been one year since the brave men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces were ordered into Iraq. On a daily basis, these brave servicemembers are displaying tremendous patriotism and courage. They and their families have made enormous sacrifices, many even the ultimate sacrifice, to serve our Nation.

I continue to strongly support our troops serving us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. My own district has seen the loss of four fallen heroes who gave their lives in defense of our Nation: Jorge Casanova, Atanacio Haro Marin, Francisco Martinez Flores, and Kelly Bolor. Many more from my district have been injured. One of my constituents, Eugene Serrano, was part of the unit that captured Saddam Hussein.

Last month, I hosted a ceremony in my district to honor these fallen heroes and all of our Nation's veterans-those who have lost their lives, those who have put their lives on the line, and those who continue to risk their lives in order to defend our Nation.

We should honor our troops and our veterans. However, I cannot support the particular resolution before us today.

I oppose this resolution not because of what it says, but because of what it does not say. It fails to express sorrow and condolences to the families of the more than 550 servicemembers that have died in Iraq, over 415 of whom were killed after President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq. It also lacks mention of the more than 3,500 who have been wounded in Iraq.

Honoring our troops should go beyond mere words commending their service. We should also eliminate disparities in pay between our active duty military and the National Guard and reservists. Some reservist families in my district are struggling to make ends meet while their loved ones are serving our Nation abroad.

We should also provide the health care and benefits our wounded service men and women earned when they come home. I've had the privilege of visiting Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, where many of the wounded troops are receiving care upon returning from Iraq. Some of these soldiers, many of who have little financial resources, are facing substantial medical bills for injuries sustained during war.

We should also take steps to ensure that the families of fallen soldiers have access to resources to cope with the loss of their loved one. This includes adequate funds for bereavement costs and translators for military personnel who visit families of fallen heroes whose first language is not English. When military personnel arrived at the home of one of the fallen service members from my district, his parents, like all parents in the same situation, feared the worst. Unfortunately, the parents were unable to fully understand why the uniformed military members were visiting them because they did not speak English. They feared for their son's condition. Language and cultural differences should be acknowledged and addressed, especially when families are hearing news that they have lost a loved one.

Finally, this resolution ignores the important steps that must be taken to lay the foundation for a stable and secure Iraq. We should immediately remedy the deficiencies in the intelligence on which our troops rely and assemble a true international coalition so that the United States does not have to consume all of the costs and nearly all of the casualties. Doing so will help secure the region and bring our troops safely home.

Today, we had an opportunity to truly honor our troops with words and action. Unfortunately, this resolution accomplishes nothing more than dividing us at a time when we should be united.

I continue to support our troops. I want to extend sincere gratitude to them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifices.

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