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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

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DREIER. I thank my friend from Lawrenceville for his typical stellar management of this very important rule; but I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that it saddens me greatly that we are here on the House floor, dealing with this. We have been in the midst of what has been a celebration, a celebration as described as the Arab Spring.

We saw a few months ago a young merchant in a small town in Tunisia very, very distraught over the fact that a government official came and took his scale away from him and took it to the government office.

He went back and asked for it, and when he made that request, he was denied it. He basically said he'd had enough, and so this young man chose to set himself afire in the middle of the town square in this tiny town in Tunisia.

Now, as we all know, that launched what has become known as the Arab Spring. The Economist magazine very appropriately said that one of the great developments that the Arab Spring has wrought is that we have now seen those so-called ``barbarians'' in the Arab world, in the Muslim world, move towards self-determination. Many people in the West and in other parts of the world very arrogantly said there's no way in the world that those people could possibly make great strides towards political pluralism and development of the rule of law, self-determination, but, in fact, we saw--beginning with this one very sad act--people throughout the Arab world in not only Tunisia, but Egypt, Bahrain and, yes, in Libya, demonstrate their frustration over authoritarian dictatorships that were actually undermining the potential of the people of each of these countries.

So that's why, Mr. Speaker, it saddens me greatly that we are here today doing what it is that we're doing. Why? Because we should be in the midst of a celebration, a celebration of these very bold and dynamic steps that are being taken throughout the Arab world. And why is it that we're here? We're here because of what has been described by Members on both sides of the aisle--and I just heard my friend from New York describe the actions of this Presidency--as being the act of a monarch.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important for us to look at recent history. If we go back to the 2006 election, the Republicans lost the majority in large part because of the war in Iraq. Democrats and Republicans alike acknowledge that.

There's an important distinction that needs to be made. If one goes back and looks at the action that was taken by President Bush, he chose to come to this Congress. He wanted the support of the American people through their elected Representatives and Senators to be behind his effort. We all know that he reached out to the United Nations, built a coalition, and there was lots of controversy. There, to this day, continues to be controversy. But the Congress was involved in that process, as has been the case in many instances in the past, not every instance, but many instances in the past.

We know, as my friend from Grandfather Community, North Carolina, just said, that President Obama when he was a candidate, United States Senator, was very critical of President Bush. We know that his campaign for the Presidency in large part centered around this notion of bringing home the troops, and we had his speech the before night last on dealing with Afghanistan and his notion that we were going to bring these efforts to an end.

I would argue, Mr. Speaker, that as we, I said, should be in the midst of celebrating the Arab Spring, we probably would have had, when one thinks about the actions that took place in Libya, we probably would have had, Mr. Speaker, pretty broad support here in the Congress for the action that was taken by the President if there had been an early authorization of this.

Now, it is, as I said, very sad that we are here now because I think Democrats and Republicans alike acknowledge that this has been very, very poorly handled. And, Mr. Speaker, I don't know if there's any more time.

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Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for yielding.

Let me just say that as we look at this, Mr. Speaker, I think we need to recognize that there are other very troubled spots in the world. We just, today, have gotten word of thousands of Syrians who are fleeing to Turkey because of the barbaric acts that have taken place there.

So I think that as we look at the great positive steps that have been taken in the Arab world, we need to make sure that the United States Congress and the President of the United States are in this together. There should be consultation and authorization to deal with this.

Mr. Speaker, I've got to say that as we look at this rule itself, I really am absolutely stunned, absolutely stunned at the kinds of things that I've heard from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as my good friend from Rochester, New York (Ms. Slaughter), knows, as we began debate on this, we had complete compliance with the 3-day layover requirement, and we had these measures before us. I would say to my friend from Rochester, Mr. Speaker, there was not a single amendment offered in the Committee on Rules to deal with this, not a single amendment offered, and, in fact, one of these measures is offered by a Republican, gentleman from Florida (Mr. Rooney); the other is offered by a Democrat, the other gentleman from Florida (Mr. Hastings).

And so when I think about 3 o'clock in the morning on June 25 of 2009, we began the debate on this horrible idea of cap-and-trade, and it was 3 o'clock in the morning and I was sitting upstairs with my Rules Committee colleagues, Mr. Speaker, and dropped in my lap, still hot because it had just come off of the copying machine, was 300 pages of an amendment that we reported out.

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Mr. DREIER. I thank my friend for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, let me just say, at 3 o'clock in the morning we were handed this measure.

Now, what we have before us has, again, complied with the 3-day layover requirement, not a single amendment was offered, and there's a proposal offered by a Democrat and a proposal offered by a Republican. So, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I believe that this rule is one that does allow for a free-flowing debate. It allows for an opportunity to consider this, and it's not as if we haven't been engaged in this discussion for a long period of time.

My friend from Cleveland is here and he has played a very, very constructive role in leading the charge on this over the past several weeks, as he often does, and I believe that our ability to continue this debate is an important one.

But again, Mr. Speaker, let me just conclude by saying it saddens me that at a time when we should be celebrating the fact there are people in the Arab world who are seeking the opportunity to enjoy the kinds of freedoms that we have here in the United States of America, that the President of the United States has chosen to go it alone without recognizing the very, very important responsibility of the first branch of the United States Government.

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