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Public Statements

Urging A Moment Of Silence For Military Personnel

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Although we haven't worked together on any committees, I know you by reputation, and I know that your reputation is good and that you are known to be a fair Representative. So one of my concerns I just have to tell you, as somebody who has served in the minority and the majority and oftentimes in the majority felt that we ran roughshod over the minority and that it was the wrong thing to do, but I have also known that when you are in the minority and you don't get to offer, for example, a single amendment on the largest piece of legislation that we've faced maybe since the income tax debate, I would appeal to your sense of understanding why you and I have this discussion going on. Because I support this bill, and I certainly think a moment of silence is the fit and proper thing to do.

I look forward to traveling with the gentleman not just to Iraq and Afghanistan, but actually some of the

places where we have World War II soldiers buried in foreign lands. I can tell you they absolutely love Americans as they look at the graves of Americans that are all over the world protecting not just our freedom but their freedom.

So I certainly understand why you are appalled that we are using this as a vehicle to discuss health care. I agree with you. There is a good sense of indignation. Yet I find myself in a few minutes one of these people who will be talking about health care because it is my only opportunity. Because as I understand it, we are going to have 1 hour of debate on two different pieces of legislation, 30 minutes per side. And if you are not directly on the health care committee, you won't have an opportunity to speak tomorrow. That is why, while I support this legislation----

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I thank the gentleman for yielding.

As a member of the defense committee who represents four military installations, someone who has gone to Afghanistan and Iraq five times, and never without going to Ramstein to visit our logistics crew over there, at Landstuhl Hospital to visit people in the hospital, as well as to go to Walter Reed Hospital here in Washington, I feel very strongly that this resolution is a good resolution and should be debated and voted on.

I have to tell you that at only 20 minutes per side, that sort of gives a signal to veterans also what the majority thinks about veterans. This is a good bill and I'm going to support it, but it saddens me that this is the vehicle in which we're going to be allowed to talk about health care.

But as I talk to the veterans of my four military installations back home and the ones who are retired in those areas, they're saying this is a horrible health care bill. I did not go to Iraq, I did not go to Vietnam, I did not fight in World War II for you to take away my freedom in one piece of legislation.

I've got to remind my friends of what the Speaker said just a week or two ago. I quote directly Speaker Nancy Pelosi: ``We need to pass this bill so you can find out what's in it.''

Does anyone deny that is a direct quote from the Speaker? That is exactly what Speaker Pelosi said.

So when my veterans back home are concerned, along with the middle class taxpayers, of what's in this bill, I think they have that right to have some apprehension. We do need full debate. Keep in mind that health care is one-sixth of the economy, $2.4 trillion.

This is a major government intrusion into it, not that the government should not be in it at all. But we are totally changing the balance of it, and yet we're not having a full debate. Why not have just several hours but weeks? Can you say to me with a straight face that would be unreasonable? We need to have hours and hours of debates.

The Republican Party has offered 99 amendments, and how many will be accepted? Zero. No ideas from the Republican Party. And shutting out the Republican Party might be great Democrat politics, but you're shutting out the people that we represent.

And I will point out, as you know, you don't need one single Republican vote. If this bill is so good, why did you not pass it in August? You didn't pass it because you didn't have the Democrat votes. The reason we're here on a weekend is because you don't have the Democrat votes. Now, I don't know what the President was here today doing. I don't know what he gave away. We know about the Louisiana purchase. We know about the hospital in Connecticut. We know about the Gator aid for Florida. We know about the Cornhusker kickback in Nebraska. And we found out now that student loans are being put in the health care bill. How did that get in there? The federalization of student loans is now in the health care bill. That doesn't make sense at all, and it doesn't make sense that in North Dakota they're exempted from the law.

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