SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2009 -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 18, 2009)
* Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009.
* The FY 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill implements President Obama's plans for winding down the number of troops in Iraq and refocusing our fight against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan--a plan I strongly support. The bill includes funds to train Afghan security forces and police, and help with economic development in this struggling nation. This investment in Afghanistan will also strengthen governance and expand the rule of law there.
* It provides our troops who are in harm's way with the equipment they need while they work tirelessly to implement the strategy set forth by President Obama. For those soldiers who have suffered the hardship of stop-loss, which keeps them on active duty longer than planned, it provides long overdue compensation.
* For Maryland, the Supplemental means $208.3 million in funding for the relocation of Walter Reed Hospital National Military Medical Center to Bethesda. This money will support our wounded warriors and provide world-class care for these brave men and women. In addition, at our request, the President's budget includes separate funding to address the traffic congestion challenges that the Center will bring.
* Additionally, in an effort to protect our country from global health risks, the Supplemental provides $2 billion for pandemic flu response. This money will be used to expand the federal stockpiles of anti-viral drugs, and develop and purchase vaccines. It also assists state and local responses and supports global efforts to track and contain the spread of a pandemic. The recent outbreak of H1N1 flu is a clear example of why this funding is vital to our health and safety.
* When President Obama was elected, he made a pledge to end the war in Iraq. With this Supplemental, we take another step in fulfilling the President's plan to remove all combat troops by August 2010 in a way that makes our country safer and our armed forces stronger.