EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT FOR DEFENSE, THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR, AND TSUNAMI RELIEF, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 15, 2005)
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Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I rise to oppose the Iraqi Supplemental Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2006. To call this legislation a travesty is to put it nicely. It is nothing but $81 billion of chaos blanketed in lofty-sounding phrases like ``tsunami relief'' and ``supporting our troops.'' Actually, this bill represents a mockery of the democratic process.
Calling this bill an ``Emergency Supplemental'' implies that the Bush Administration and Congress were somehow not aware of these costs. That is ridiculous. The only unforeseen cost contained in this $81 billion dollar boondoggle is the $656 million for tsunami relief.
Both Congress and the Administration have known for months that $75 billion in the bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be needed, but we didn't put it in the budget. The real story is that the Bush Administration is attempting to hide from the American people the real costs of a mismanaged war.
The Administration once claimed the war in Iraq would cost $1.7 billion. This Supplemental alone is almost 50 times that amount. Is the Administration out to lunch?
Tomorrow, the House is going to consider a budget resolution that, like the previous year, fails to include adequate funding for the war in Iraq. I'm not a soothsayer, Mr. Speaker, but dare I warn, ``Beware of the Ides of March.'' If tomorrow's Republican budget is passed, we're going to be here next March writing the Bush Administration another check to cover the costs of its campaign of nation building.
The Bush Administration is hiding behind the rhetoric of supporting our troops to escape accountability for the war in Iraq, and the American people should be outraged. We should be embarrassed that Members in this body are so willing to write blank checks to a President who has yet to justify how the $175 billion in already appropriated money in Iraq and Afghanistan has been spent.
Mr. Chairman, I am even more appalled by the manner in which funding for clandestine operations is being carried out in this bill. This bill allocates a massive amount of money for covert operations, yet the Department of Defense did not see fit to go through either of the two House authorizing committees of jurisdiction. Congress is creating a private bank account for Secretary Rumsfield without any oversight or permission from the United States Congress. Is this what the American people want--government by fiat?
Mr. Chairman, our government has a process, and this process is vital to preserving the nature of our democracy. I shouldn't have to explain that. All of the Bush Administration's rhetoric about global freedom apparently does not extend to the United States Capitol Building. What is more important for the Bush Administration is that they get their money at all and any costs. I guess that means they will sell this bill on the altruistic notions of patriotism and humanitarianism in a snide attempt to drum up support.
Why is this bill being dubbed a tsunami relief effort when the entire Supplemental is over 120 times the amount allocated for the tsunami? What about the six hundred million dollars to build the world's biggest embassy in Baghdad? What are they building this thing out of--pure lead? That same amount of money could go towards vital security upgrades at other embassies and consulates around the world.
Why don't we just make things easier on everyone by throwing this bill out the window and opening up everyone's bank accounts to the United States Executive Branch? Now that's privatization.
This isn't a question of patriotism, nor is it a question of our commitment to helping tsunami victims recover. This is an issue with short and long-term constitutional and budgetary ramifications.
I realize that the Bush Administration feels it would be easier to simply govern without any input or oversight, but the first three Articles of the Constitution suggest otherwise.
I cannot in good conscience support legislation that, for all we know, might pour billions in the pockets of Halliburton while depriving our troops of necessary resources. And I can't imagine why the United States Congress, led by the Appropriations Committee, is handing a leash to the White House and waiting to be taken out for a walk.
Mr. Chairman, I am outraged by this crass attempt to shirk congressional responsibility, and I urge my colleagues to vote against this legislation.
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