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Public Statements

Representative Pete Olson Delivers Floor Speech On War Funding Legislation

Statement

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Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Pete Olson Delivers floor speech on War Funding legislation

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my growing alarm with the Democrat Leadership's plan to attach controversial and costly provisions - with little chance of passing on their own - to a bill as critically important as the war supplemental appropriations bill.

I am deeply concerned that Senate and House Democrats and the Administration have opted to compromise the integrity of an issue as important as providing the men and women of our military the support they need to continue the fight against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I proudly supported the House version of this bill when it originally passed this chamber as a clean measure to provide our troops on the battle field with the equipment and support necessary to complete their mission. However, it appears that Democrats are preparing to use the conference report - that cannot be amended - to load down this bill with unrelated, politically-motivated poison pills.

My Democratic colleagues are proposing to include up to $108 billion for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as part of a global financial bailout for foreign nations. Not only is this a bad idea on its own, I have yet to hear any explanation of how on Earth this will benefit our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, this money will have precisely the opposite effect. Iran, which the State Department has repeatedly certified as, "the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world," would be eligible for these funds. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who describes America as "the biggest menace to our planet" and supports narco-terrorists in neighboring nations, would be eligible for these funds.

This purpose of this bill is to make sure our fighting forces have the men and material they need to fight terrorists. That this bill would include funding that could benefit the sponsors of terrorism is outrageous.

All of this being said, I would welcome an honest, open debate in this chamber on the IMF funding, and a separate vote on the IMF funding, but my Democratic colleagues apparently would rather not risk an up-or-down vote on the IMF funding. Therefore, they have resorted to playing games with funding for our troops by shoehorning this measure in a war spending bill without no opportunity for debate in the House.

And it may not end there. Unbelievably, reports are that the Administration is trying to add last-minute language to transfer the terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay to the United States. Again, I will happily have that debate on the floor of this body any day of the week. But this attempt to ram this unacceptable provision into the bill without debate or a vote is simply wrong.

I can't think of a more demoralizing message to send to our fighting forces than that a majority in Congress is willing - for political expediency's sake - to load down a war funding bill with unrelated, unpopular provisions.

When I served in the Navy, we dreaded the annual games politicians played with military funding. It made us angry to know that we were tasked with a mission, and then politicians played politics with the resources needed to complete that mission. Mr. Speaker, I did not come here to play that game.

There is no honor in a vote that conditions funding for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen on satisfying an unrelated political agenda. This Congress must not cheapen and degrade our military simply to forward political interests.


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