EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT FOR DEFENSE, THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR, AND TSUNAMI RELIEF, 2005 -- (Extensions of Remarks - March 17, 2005)
HON. RUSH D. HOLT
OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2005
The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 1268) making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other purposes:
Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to passage of this bill.
There are large amounts of funding in this bill that I support for pressing commitments and to meet urgent national and international needs. For example, I absolutely support getting our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere all that they need and deserve in order to protect themselves and carry out their very difficult and dangerous missions. I was among the first to speak out and support legislation in 2003, when it became apparent that Secretary Rumsfeld and his advisors had seriously underestimated the types of body armor, up-armored Humvees and other equipment that would be needed by our forces in Iraq. I have voted for the additional funding in prior measures to correct for these miscalculations, as a matter of the utmost urgency, and I will continue to do so.
Similarly, I support the additional funding in this bill for enhancing nuclear nonproliferation efforts to help prevent weapons of mass destruction from getting into the wrong hands. I also support the additional funds for tsunami relief. There is also another down payment in this bill toward improving homeland security efforts in the Coast Guard, FBI, and other front-line agencies, but we need to be doing much more in this regard.
However, on balance I must oppose this legislation.
I've talked to many executive branch officials, civilian and military, and the simple reality is that they cannot plan in a coherent fashion when they are forced to deal with the uncertainty over how much money they will get and when they will get it. This bill denies them the ability to plan and the result is that our servicemen and women in the filed are put in greater jeopardy. This is not a bill to support our troops.
By way of illustration, I serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. A substantial portion of the annual intelligence budget is now funded through supplemental and/or so-called "emergency" appropriations. Both civilian and military intelligence officials have told me and my colleagues on the committee that this process wreaks havoc with their ability to plan and execute their assigned responsibilities. There is simply no excuse for this state of affairs.
We have soldiers in the field, and we know that we'll be continuing military operations against al Qaeda and its surrogates for the foreseeable future. We know that as long as we're in Iraq at our current force level, we'll be spending about $7 billion a month for the effort. That's not unforeseen. We should not be funding these operations through emergency supplemental appropriations. It certainly appears that the only reason the Bush Administration continues to try to fund current operations through supplementals is to avoid any kind of substantive review of its budgetary and procurement policies. The entire Haliburton episode is a prime example of how dysfunctional this process has become, and it's also why we must force the administration to provide us with honest budgets and honest estimates on what current and future operations are likely to cost. In fact, the leadership here turned down a bipartisan amendment that would simply have formed a commission to look at the awarding and carrying out of Government contracts to conduct military and reconstruction activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It has become painfully apparent that the path toward a free, democratic and fully reconstructed Iraq will be long and treacherous. If and when this bill is enacted, the cost for the war in Iraq and the ongoing military occupation of that country will exceed $220 billion. In fact, the true costs of this effort are underestimated and masked, as evidenced by the fact that they are not accounted for in the new Fiscal Year 2006 budget that President Bush submitted to Congress last month. Some projections suggest that the cost will top $300 billion before the end of this year. And as far as taking care of the wounds of war-physical and psychological-of our latest generation of veterans, neither this supplemental nor the administration's FY06 VA budget request come remotely close to meeting the expected need ..... undoubtedly one of the many reasons that most of the military services are falling short of their recruiting targets this year.
Rather than continue the status quo on an open-ended, costly basis and to vote ever-increasing amounts in "emergency spending," Congress must demand much greater transparency in the management and spending for ongoing U.S. military operations in Iraq. Even more important, we need a thorough policy review that will help bring internal stability and security throughout Iraq and create the conditions under which the long-suffering people of Iraq can regain full control of their own affairs and make rapid progress in rebuilding their war-torn nation in a new era of peace, security, and democratic self-government. This supplemental request does not achieve that, and I urge my colleagues to work with me to craft one that does.