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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.J. RES. 68, Authorizing Limited Use of Armed Forces in Libya; and Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2278, Limiting Use of Funds for Armed Forces in Libya

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 328 provides a closed rule for consideration of H.R. 2278 and H.J. Res. 68. The rule provides a total of 3 hours of debate in this Chamber on this vitally important issue of U.S. military operations in Libya. The rule also provides the minority with two separate motions to recommit, with or without instructions.

Mr. Speaker, it was in this week in 1788, June 21, 1788, that the United States ratified its Constitution, that Constitution that still serves us so well today. In that Constitution, our Framers made clear that the power of the purse belongs here and here alone, here in the people's House, here on Capitol Hill; and that Constitution made clear that the power to declare war lies here and here alone.

On June 3 of this year by a vote of 268-145 the House of Representatives passed a resolution asking the President to make clear what his intentions are in Libya, asking the President to come and consult with Congress, to get Congress' permission, to seek our authority to prosecute those hostilities in Libya.

We have received some information from the White House since then. We have gotten a letter from the White House since then. We even have classified documents since then. But what we have not had since then, Mr. Speaker, is an opportunity for the American people to make their voice heard on this important issue, because, after all, this isn't an issue for Congress, because as a Congressman, it is not about my voice. It is about the voice of the 911,000 people back home that I represent that I bring here to Congress, and those people's voices have yet to be heard on this Libya issue.

Operation Odyssey Dawn is in full operation now, since the month of March, and the people's voice has still not been heard. But today, Mr. Speaker, the Rules Committee, as one of the longest-standing committees in this U.S. House of Representatives, first constituted in 1789, the Rules Committee is making that opportunity available with these two resolutions.

Mr. Speaker, my hope is that the people's voice will be heard today; that in this hour upon hour of debate that we have today, these two very different choices for where this country goes, that the American people will for the first time have their voice heard on the question of Libya.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, when we come back in July, we're going to take up the FY 2012 defense bill. In fact, we'll take it up tonight and start considering amendments when we return. We'll again have an opportunity to have our voice heard. Because, Mr. Speaker, there is an entire gradation of options that we have here. Are we going to declare war on Libya? Are we going to allow the President to continue doing what he's doing in Libya? Are we going to shut down the funding for troops on the ground on Libya? Are we going to shut down funding for Libya altogether? These are the questions that the Rules Committee has made available today and 2 weeks from now so that this House will be able to have its voice heard.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to say I absolutely agree with the gentlelady. This is no place for politics. And that's why, as Mr. Kucinich has led this effort time after time after time, he's had tremendous support from the Republican side of the aisle.

This is not about Republicans and Democrats. This is about the Constitution of the United States. This is about the 911,000 people I represent back home. This is about the people's voice being behind the President. As the chairman of the Rules Committee said, this should not be a time for division. This should be a time for unification.

I absolutely agree with my colleagues who are concerned about the debate happening today, on June 24. The time for the debate was March 18. The time for the debate was before this got started to begin with. But we have been put in this box, Mr. Speaker, and we have a constitutional responsibility to find our way out of it. We have on the floor today under this rule two opportunities, two opportunities to make our constituents' voices heard, and I encourage a strong ``yes'' vote for this rule so that we can bring those opportunities to the floor.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. WOODALL. Mr. Speaker, I want to associate myself with my colleagues who say it's much too late. It is much too late. I wish we'd had that opportunity to have this conversation before hostilities began.

I am new to this body, Mr. Speaker, and perhaps my colleagues knew hostilities were getting ready to begin. I did not. I heard about it on CNN. There was no consultation with Congress before those hostilities began. That was the right time to have this debate. That time has passed.

And for those who say delay, delay, delay, I'll tell you, it's already too late. We cannot delay any further.

And I'm very pleased, Mr. Speaker, that the Rules Committee has made these two resolutions available because you have two very clear choices today, Mr. Speaker.

As you know, on the Senate side there's the Kerry-McCain resolution. And this resolution that we have from Mr. Hastings today largely mirrors that resolution. If you believe that what's going on in Libya is in the best interest of the United States, if you believe we have a national security interest in Libya, if you believe that the Congress should make clear that we are behind the President and what's going on in Libya, you have that choice today in the resolution offered by Mr. Hastings.

If you believe that this is just another example of a war that's going to escalate, and you're concerned about that escalation, and you want to put yourself on the record as saying no, no more, no more, you have your chance to do that today with the Rooney resolution. No more.

I hold here in my hand, Mr. Speaker, a copy of Constitution of the United States of America, again, ratified this week in 1788. Article I, section 8: the Congress shall have the power to declare war. Article I, section 9: no money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law.

Mr. Speaker, it's easy to say that foreign policy is the dominion of the President of the United States, and it is. But the purse is the dominion of the U.S. House of Representatives.

I want to hearken back again to what the chairman of the Rules Committee said on the floor earlier: this should be a time of celebration. And, Mr. Speaker, when we have troops in harm's way, it should be something that we are unified behind and believe in as a Nation, that we are ready to prosecute a war effort to the fullest extent and bring our men and women home victorious.

But, Mr. Speaker, this is not a topic of unanimity. This is not a topic that we have found any sort of agreement on whatsoever in this body. In fact, this is a topic that we have been focused on and focused on and focused on, trying to bring to conclusion in this House. And this rule today, Mr. Speaker, gives us that opportunity.

Now, I want to make clear there's a further step that we could go. We could go one step further that says no funds shall be used, period. And when we return to this body, Mr. Speaker, I believe my colleagues, Mr. Kucinich and Mr. Amash, are going to make that amendment available to us, and I will be voting ``yes'' when that amendment comes down the pike.

But for today, we have an opportunity to take a step in that direction. We have an opportunity to make our voices heard. Are you with it, or are you against it? Do you support what's going on in Libya, or do you believe we're headed in the wrong direction as a Nation?

You have that opportunity today; but only, Mr. Speaker, if you vote ``yes'' for this rule to make these two measures in order. I urge a strong ``yes'' vote.

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