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Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R.4310, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McKEON. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Armed Services, I ask unanimous consent to take from the Speaker's table the bill (H.R. 4310) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2013 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes, with a Senate amendment thereto, disagree to the Senate amendment, and agree to the conference requested by the Senate.

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Mr. McKEON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise to thank the gentlelady for her leadership not only on this issue, but on the leadership she helps provide to our committee. We have several women serving on the House Armed Services Committee, and they do an outstanding job.

Over the years, many of us have visited Iraq and Afghanistan, and I've had that opportunity. But I know that the trips that the women have made bring us back a different perspective. In my trip the time before last to Afghanistan, I went to the south. I went to Camp Leatherneck, where they were just setting up the Marines that had just arrived, and they were just pushing out in the desert. We were not able to visit Marja, which was one of the towns in that area. It was totally under the control of the Taliban. The Taliban flag flew over Marja.

The last time I was there, it was totally changed. The Marines had taken over Marja. And the day we were there, we opened a school. It's not like a school that we have here for our young people. They had a few classrooms in an adobe building, and then they had a few tents. It was kind of raining that day, but as we opened that school, 500 children were now going to be able to go to school, and over a third of them were young girls who could not go to school before. They were so excited, 10 teachers and 500 young people. As I said, about a third of them were young girls.

We have made some great improvements in Afghanistan. There are a lot of things we don't hear about. But when these women go on these trips on Mother's Day, they meet with the same women each year. So they give us a whole different perspective. Many of us on the trips, we go to one place, the next time we go to a different place, and we don't get a real feel as to what is actually happening with the people there. I've talked to some of these women after those trips. They've reported back and told me the things that they have seen and learned. This perspective of being able to actually see the same people and hear their perspective change from year to year is invaluable, and I thank you for making those trips.

We have women on both sides of the aisle, both on and off the committee, that have gone on those trips. Martha Roby, one of the freshman Members on our side of the aisle, led the trip this last time, and Vicky Hartzler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, our conference chair for our new Congress, and Renee Ellmers, another freshman Member on our side. Again, women from the other side of the aisle made that trip. I thank them for it, and I strongly support this effort on this motion to instruct.

We need to do everything we can do to ensure the safety of women. We've made lots of gains for those women and the girls who will become women in that country. When you withdraw the troops, it's a serious time and dangerous time. As we pass the effort over to the Afghan security forces to provide the protections and keep the gains that we've made, it's very important that they don't fall back into the same way that they've treated women in the past and we lose all those gains that we've made. So this is a very important addition to the bill.

I thank you for bringing this forward. I thank you for the support. It's something I hope that everyone in the Congress will support as we move forward.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. McKEON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to close.

I want to thank the gentlelady for bringing this issue. I think it is something that we can totally support on our side, and I would encourage all Members of this body to support this issue. I thank all of the women who have made the trips over there to Afghanistan because they have really added to the cause.

Our men and women in the military that have fought for all these many years--one of the major benefits from this war is the freedoms that these women and girls are able to enjoy right now, and it's my hope that we can leave sufficient force there to complete the mission, to guarantee the safety of these women and children, young girls, going forward. To leave precipitously without having completed that mission and put these women and girls in jeopardy, after they've seen a whole new life emerge, a whole new opportunity presented to them that they never conceived of before, would be a disaster.

So I thank again the gentlelady from California (Mrs. Davis) for her efforts here, and all the women who have spoken on this issue and traveled to Afghanistan, and urge that we all support this issue.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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