CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 2863, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - December 18, 2005)
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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my frustration over the abuse of procedures in the House of Representatives. For the past day we have waited for a chance to debate and vote on the Defense Appropriations Bill. Now, in the early morning, we will do so without any of us having had a chance to thoroughly review the bill. I will vote for the bill--I believe it is right to support our troops as well as Hurricane Katrina and Rita relief efforts. However, I do not support the last minute moves to open up ANWR for drilling by inserting language into an unrelated bill which requires an up or down vote. If ANWR has such widespread support as some argue, then why is it being pushed through on the 11th hour?
Our focus should be on how we can best protect our nation and our troops deployed overseas. I am troubled that the Leadership would use our troops as a weapon to accomplish something which is so unpopular with the American people. I have heard this belief on ANWR drilling expressed over and over again as I travel throughout the district. Yet, somehow, this unpopular provision still found its way into the bill. It is a sad day when our troops are held hostage to a last-minute rider. It is a special interest giveaway that has no place in the defense spending bill.
We have just a few unspoiled lands remaining in our country and we need to protect them. Nobody really knows how much oil ANWR holds, and unfortunately, it will require a significant amount of drilling and testing to find out. Once the exploration starts, we'll have already destroyed part of the environment.
I realize our country has a fundamental imbalance between supply and demand, but drilling in ANWR will provide little relief of that demand. We cannot drill our way out of current energy problems. Likewise, we cannot conserve our way out of our current energy problems. We must diversify our energy portfolio. On my farm, I do not grow just one crop. I must diversify my farming operation to be able handle the ups and downs of the agriculture markets, and that is also what we need to do to with our energy supply. By diversifying our energy portfolio, our country can better handle the volatility of the energy markets.
I know each of us is concerned about how to shape our future energy policy. I can tell you that it should not include ANWR and I will continue on my mission to promote a diverse energy portfolio, one that includes renewable energy sources. It is my hope that we will have a chance to revisit this issue in the near future.
As for the Defense Appropriations Bill, we cannot delay any longer. While I have some serious concerns with the bill, it contains critical funding for our nation's defense and the safety of the brave men and women fighting in our Armed Forces. It would be a disservice to these men and women for Congress to adjourn for the year without passing a funding bill. It would also be a disservice to our fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast Region who have been waiting for months to receive aid. Hurricanes Rita and Katrina may have washed away homes and a lifetime of belongings, but they did not wash away our compassion for others in need. Together we can move forward--together we can do better.
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