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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2863, Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to action taken by the Committee on Rules last night when they refused to grant a waiver for my amendment, which I will describe in a moment.

First, I want to commend the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha) and the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) for their patriotism, for their hard work on behalf of the safety and security of our country and the well-being of our troops. I say to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) congratulations and thank you for what you have done.

The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha) is not in the room at the moment, but I want to acknowledge his great leadership, as well as that of the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey), our ranking member of the full committee, and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lewis), the new chairman of the full committee. They have all had a strong commitment to our national defense, to our men and women in uniform, to the safety and security of our country. They help us honor our oath of office which calls for providing for the common defense.

I would have hoped that in this legislation that comes before us we would have had an opportunity to give an accounting to the American people as to the conduct of the war in Iraq.

As we all know, Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is Father's Day, and many fathers, young fathers, will be away from their families. They will be in Iraq. They will be in Iraq, just as many mothers were on Mother's Day. These brave young mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and many others are fighting a war of choice in which we sent our young people in harm's way without leveling with the American people. They were sent into a war without the intelligence about what they were going to confront, without the equipment to protect them and without a plan of what would happen after the fall of Baghdad.

I, as well as many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, have visited with soldiers in Iraq and many of whom are on their second tour of duty there. I have conveyed to those brave soldiers, as I have to the wounded in military hospitals in the United States and overseas, how grateful the American people are for their valor, their patriotism and the sacrifice they are willing to make for our country. They have performed their duties with great courage and great skill, and we are all deeply in their debt.

Disagreement with the policies and the conduct of the war that sent our troops to Iraq, and which keeps them in danger today, in no way diminishes the respect and admiration that we have for our troops. Sadly, their level of sacrifice has not been met by the level of the administration's planning, and now the American people agree. This war is not making America safer.

This unnecessary, preemptive war has come at great cost. More than 1,700 of our troops have lost their lives, and thousands more have suffered wounds, many of them, many thousands of them, suffering permanent wounds. Since the war began more than 2 years ago, Congress has appropriated nearly $200 billion for the war in Iraq, and the United States has suffered devastating damage to our reputation in the eyes of the world. The cost in lives and limbs, the cost in dollars, the cost in reputation has been enormous.

Then-Republican Senator from Ohio, Senator Robert Taft, soon to become the majority leader, the Republican leader in the Senate of the United States, had this to say about our duty in time of war. He said, ``Criticism in a time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government.'' He is a Republican. That was during World War II, and what he said was right, ``Criticism in a time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government.''

Each passing day confirms that the Iraq War has been a grotesque mistake. We are here today considering a rule for a defense appropriations bill that will provide another $45 billion for that war, in addition to the hundreds of billions of dollars already appropriated, and the end is not in sight. This money has been spent in Iraq without question by Congress, without accountability by the administration and without success.

Today we must also finally, if belatedly, heed the admonition of Senator Taft and pose questions. The questions are long overdue, about the policies by which the Iraq War is conducted. Congress did not discharge its responsibility to oversee the policies at the start of the war, and it has not done so since. The American people, particularly our troops who are serving in harm's way, deserve better.

If we defeat the previous question on this rule, this is a technicality inside a baseball process here, but if we defeat the previous question on this rule, we can consider my amendment, which says to the President: ``Within 30 days of enactment of this legislation, Congress expects an accounting from you as to what the strategy for success is. What security and political measures have you established that will bring our troops home?''

Specifically, my amendment would require the President within 30 days of enactment, as I mentioned, submit to Congress a report identifying the criteria that will be used to determine when it is appropriate to begin to bring our troops home from Iraq. It does not require that the troops be brought home by a particular day. It requires only that the means for judging when they may be brought home be shared with the Congress.

This is not new language. Under the leadership of the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran), even more expanded, more detailed criteria were set forth in the supplemental bill, which was agreed to in a bipartisan way. I believe the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Young) was a party to that agreement with the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murtha).

So this is just raising the profile once again of that requirement, and I commend the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran) for his leadership, for his attention to the detail of all of this, for providing some questions for much-needed answers for the American people.

It is long time past due that the President level with the American people and tell them what the plan is for our troops to complete their work in Iraq. Before any more money is provided for this war, Congress must insist that this information be shared.

I hope that the administration will honor the request, the bipartisan request, in the supplemental. This appropriations bill, which has even more money for Iraq, is an appropriate place for us to make that request as well.

This is an enormous issue in our country. Our troops are in harm's way. Their actions there, again, have been marked by their patriotism, their skill, their love of our country and their courage, but we have to let them know what the goal is and when we have accomplished it so that they can come home.

I hope that we will have bipartisan consensus for a strategy for success in Iraq.

Regrettably, the Republican majority on the Committee on Rules refused to make my amendment in order. Therefore, opposing the previous question on the rule is the only way that we can force this issue on the defense appropriations bill.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on that vote and to ``yes'' for accountability for a safer America.

I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) for his time.


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