From Congresswoman Speier's first speech on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, April 10, 2008:
"The process to bring the troops home must begin immediately. The President wants to stay the course, and a man who wants to replace him suggests we could be in Iraq for a hundred years. But, Madam Speaker, history will not judge us kindly if we sacrifice four generations of Americans because of the folly of one."
We must ensure our nation is protected, and that our men and women who serve our country are properly equipped with the best gear and force protection available. While I strongly and vocally opposed President Bush's decision to wage war in Iraq, I do believe we owe it to the men and women of our armed forces to protect them when the decision is made to put them in harm's way.
On May 15, 2008 the House rejected President Bush's request for an unchecked and unending supply of money for the war in Iraq in the Supplemental Appropriations Act. The supplemental came in three parts:
The first was the money President Bush requested, and I voted no.
I voted yes on the second amendment, which prohibited the use of torture and the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq and mandated that an orderly withdrawal begin within 30 days.
The third amendment, which I also voted for, restored the GI Bill to the level of benefits a WWII veteran received and extended unemployment benefits for 13 weeks.
We went to war under false pretenses and we have stayed there to the detriment of our military and America's standing in the world. I look forward to working with President Obama to facilitate a speedy and safe redeployment of our fighting forces from Iraq.
The Al Qaeda terrorists who unleashed the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor were based in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The previous administration took its eye off the ball when they redeployed American troops from Afghanistan to Iraq. I believe that tragic mistake eroded the U.S. military's key mission to - find and capture Osama Bin Laden and other senior members of Al Qaeda - and compromised the security of America and the entire world. We are now faced with a dramatically worsened situation in Afghanistan, and the ramping up of a war that is not winnable and is likely to drag on for years, requiring an ever increasing commitment of U.S. personnel and resources.
For years we have watched as Department of Defense spending has skyrocketed. Currently, it accounts for more than 60 percent of discretionary spending. Much of this growth is due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but exorbitant spending on programs of questionable value has further bloated military spending.
One example is the V-22 Osprey, an aircraft no closer to being battle-ready after nearly three decades of development. This, despite that it has cost more than $20 billion and has taken the lives of 30 crewmembers. Missile defense is another money pit that has yielded little benefit and has angered numerous foreign governments.
With a mounting fiscal crisis, we need to rein in defense spending and vastly expand diplomatic efforts to repair our badly damaged image abroad.
The United States is at a crossroads after years of bad decisions that have damaged our standing throughout the world and placed our national and economic security at grave risk. The need to modernize our foreign assistance programs to better address the global challenges of the 21st century, including terrorism, poverty, pandemic disease, climate change, energy security, failing states, food insecurity, slowed economic growth, and population and migration issues, has never been clearer than now.
Foreign assistance comes in many forms. I am a strong advocate for reducing global poverty as a means to making the world safer and more secure. The United Nations Millennium Development Goal aims, by 2015, to cut in half the number of people worldwide who live on less than $1 per day. This goal is not only achievable, but critical.
I am absolutely committed to improving America's role as a catalyst for peace in the Middle East. We must bring all sides in the conflict to the negotiating table to find a workable path toward a lasting peace where Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace, each with their own sovereign state.
H. RES. 867 (The Goldstone Report)
On November 3, 2009, The House passed a resolution 'calling on the President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the 'Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict'."
This report, commonly referred to as The Goldstone Report, investigated possible war crimes and other abuses committed by Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces during the fighting in the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009.
I voted neither for nor against this resolution. Instead, I voted "present" because I wanted to voice my profound concern with the process leading to this vote. Outside of normal House procedure, the Resolution was brought directly to the floor, bypassing consideration by the Foreign Affairs Committee and providing very little time for myself and other Members to review the report that we were being asked to condemn.
Under Speaker Pelosi, Congress has instituted reforms to ensure adequate time to review legislation before voting. I have a problem with being asked to vote on something as important as this without ample time to prepare. This is no way to conduct business in the House of Representatives on this or any issue. That is why I voted "present" on H. Res 867.
I believe that the United States' policy in the Middle East, in addition to curtailing terrorism and other threats, must aim to bring real and lasting security and peace to the region. We must bring all sides in the conflict to the negotiating table to find a resolution to this crisis and continue on a workable path toward a lasting peace.