9/11 RECOMMENDATIONS IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - October 07, 2004)
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Mr. COOPER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Missouri for the time.
Mr. Chairman, this is an extremely important debate. All Americans have a stake in the outcome of this debate, and it is a fascinating set of issues because, on the one hand, basically supporting the provisions of the Menendez substitute, we have none other than the President of the United States, the 9/11 Commission, most all of the 9/11 families, 96 United States Senators, including all 51 Republican Senators. We have such a notable defense expert such as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Mr. Warner. That is on one side of the debate.
On the other side of the debate, in favor of H.R. 10, a bill that came out of nowhere, a purely partisan bill, we have the gentleman from California (Mr. Hunter), the chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services.
Now, which side would most House Members choose to support? The President, the 9/11 Commission, the 9/11 families, 96 Senators, 51 Republican Senators, including Senator Warner, or our colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. Hunter)? I suggest that should be a pretty easy question for most Members of this House to decide.
What really matters is the substance, and our friend, the gentleman from California, has said many times, including in today's Wall Street Journal, that it is vitally important to preserve that link between the warfighter and intelligence asset. I could not agree with the gentleman from California more. I think all Members of the committee are in favor of preserving that link. I would submit to the gentleman that the White House and our President are in favor of preserving that link. That is why they have endorsed basically the Collins-Lieberman bill, which the closest thing we will be allowed to discuss is the Menendez substitute. They have not, to my knowledge, unless the gentleman has gotten a secret submission from the White House in the last few hours, supported the gentleman's approach.
So, for my friends on the other side of the aisle who are standing with our chairman, that puts the White House in a curious position. Are our colleagues on the other side of the aisle counting the White House as being incompetent and somehow supporting a bill that would do bad things to our troops? Or are they accusing the White House of being insincere and not really meaning their endorsement of Collins-Lieberman? Which is it? Because the two sides could not be more at odds.
The American people reading the newspapers today probably thought that the Congress of the United States is well on its way toward intelligence bipartisan reform. Well, if the wrecking crew that is being put forward on this side of the House has its way on this side of the Capitol building, there might not be a conference that can succeed at all. It is very important that the American people get reform so that we can be better protected.
I would urge the Members of this House to not just consider this a routine vote, not just to routinely go along with leadership. These are very complex issues. It is a lot to ask Members to read some 600-page bill that we got handed basically on Monday, a much longer bill than we were dealing with last week. Most of the committees that had jurisdiction were very poorly able to conduct their business.
As the gentleman knows, in the Committee on Armed Services, discussions of weapons of mass destruction was ruled to be nongermane. So, due to a technicality, the Committee on Armed Services was not allowed to discuss weapons of mass destruction issues. I would ask, what is more important than discussing such issues? What is a better forum than the House Committee on Armed Services? But we were not allowed to discuss it due to a technicality.
Other committees, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, they adopted three amendments in the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on a bipartisan basis, but somehow all those amendments were struck before the bill got to the floor.
So the process has been an abomination. Not only did our chairman not consult the ranking member of this committee in formulating H.R. 10, the process has ignored weapons of mass destruction, has struck bipartisan amendments that were reached in other committees. That is not the right way to reform intelligence in this country.
The right way, I would suggest, is the way the other body did it, by working together in a calm and bipartisan fashion to achieve consensus such as a consensus they achieved yesterday with a 96-2 vote, complete unanimity among the Republicans, in agreement with the White House, but that, sadly, is not what we have on this side of the Capitol.
So I would urge my colleagues, in the strongest possible terms, support the Menendez amendment. Oppose H.R. 10, and do the right thing for our country.
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Mr. COOPER. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. I yield to the gentleman from Tennessee.
Mr. COOPER. Mr. Chairman, the statement of administration policy said they supported H.R. 2840.
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. The gentleman said they were supportive of the Menendez amendment.
Mr. COOPER. The Collins-Lieberman bill, and the closest thing we are allowed to vote on is the Menendez bill. As I said, the Menendez amendment is the closest thing we are allowed to vote on in the House.
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Mr. COOPER. Two corrections, Mr. Chairman.
First, the statement of administrative policy is dated September 28 endorses S. 2845. The closest thing we can vote on in the House to that is the Menendez amendment.
Also, in the Committee on Armed Services, we reported out the bill 59 to zero, but the real vote in committee was 33 to 26, a more closely divided issue.
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Mr. COOPER. Mr. Chairman, during floor debate on H.R. 10, Mr. WELDON referred to me as being "untruthful" regarding two matters: (a) White House support for, as I described it during the debate, "basically the Collins-Lieberman bill; the closest thing to which we will be able to discuss is the Menendez substitute", and (b) my description during the Armed Services Committee markup of H.R. 10 of a voice vote on an amendment I offered in another committee, the Government Reform Committee.
As I stated during the floor debate, but I was unsure the official reporter heard, since Mr. WELDON refused to yield time to me, I felt strongly Mr. WELDON was mistaken in his characterization.
(a) What is the White House's position? According to the White House's Statement of Administration Policy of Sept. 28, 2004, "the Administration supports Senate passage of S. 2845 (the Collins-Lieberman bill)." Since the Rules Committee did not allow the Collins-Lieberman bill to be voted on by the House, the Menendez substitute was the closest approximation of the Collins-Lieberman legislation. In fact, as described by the Rules Committee, the Menendez substitute "merges two bills endorsed by the 9/11 Commission: Collins-Lieberman (S. 2845) ..... and McCain/Lieberman (S. 2774)......."
(b) What happened in the Government Reform Committee? The draft transcript of the Government Reform markup of Sept. 29, 2004 includes the following statement from Chairman TOM DAVIS on my amendment, "In the opinion of the Chair, the ayes have it. I will ask for a rollcall on that."
Later in the Government Reform markup, when I asked Chairman DAVIS for his recollection of the voice vote, he said, as reported in the draft transcript, "Let the record show the ayes had it at the time, but I had the right to request a rollcall ....."
In summary, it is clear from the record that the White House supports S. 2845, and that a voice vote in my favor occurred in the Government Reform Committee.