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Emeregency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, The Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006

Location: Washington, DC


The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 4939) making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other purposes:

* Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to this bill, the largest emergency appropriations measure to ever be considered by the House of Representatives. I do so with great reluctance because there are several positive aspects to the bill, including resources for our dedicated troops. Despite these reservations, I oppose this bill because the Administration and the Majority in Congress have failed to provide adequate oversight and accountability for our operations in Iraq.

* Mr. Chairman, in four days we will mark the third anniversary of this tragic war, a war that I opposed from the beginning and which has already cost our country over $400 billion. Without a strategy for success or an end in sight, the Congressional Budget Office predicts the price tag for military costs alone will reach $600 billion by the end of this decade. The added costs of long-term healthcare for our veterans, reconstruction assistance, and economic aid will of course raise this figure exponentially, prompting some of our Nation's best economists to predict that the long-term costs of this war will rise as high as two trillion dollars. Meanwhile, the loss of our best and brightest young people can never be measured.

* Going into war without the approval and support of the international community and without a plan for the post-war occupation period has resulted in a Nation less secure now than at the end of major combat operations. Despite the heroic efforts of our military, and the hundreds of billions of dollars poured into Iraq, it is now on the brink of civil war. We've seen how disastrously this administration's strategy, or lack thereof, has played out in Iraq, and yet we continue to circumvent the normal budget process, putting hundreds of billions of dollars on the national credit card without any plan for success, any plan to begin the process of bringing our troops home, or any plan to turn Iraq over to the Iraqi people.

* Mr. Chairman, I voted in favor of our last emergency supplemental bill because, among other things, the bill instructed the Department of Defense to provide a detailed report to Congress of its military expenditures in Iraq and Afghanistan to finally allow us to track how the Administration was spending the taxpayer's money. Despite this language, the General Accounting Office reported in November numerous problems in DOD's processes for recording and reporting costs for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, the GAO found that neither DOD nor Congress can reliably know how much the war is costing, nor the details on how appropriated funds are being spent. The facts are not being made available and Congress is operating and appropriating without them.

* Congress is not fulfilling its responsibility to act as the steward of the National Treasury. I, along with several colleagues on both sides of the aisle, have cosponsored legislation that would restore oversight and accountability to our budget process. Several of my colleagues have called for hearings and investigations into how funds are being spent in Iraq. These efforts have been met with near-total resistance by the Majority leadership in the House, and by the administration. Time and again we who are elected to keep close watch over spending are being denied the necessary tools to do our jobs.

* The good in this bill is increased funding to address the crisis in Darfur, our fellow Americans affected by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the language preventing the Dubai Ports deal from moving forward. I've supported these efforts in the past and were these provisions to be considered properly under normal budget procedures, I would support them.

* Whether or not Members support the war in Iraq, it's becoming clearer day by day that the President's policies are unsustainable. Without a change of direction and a clear plan for success, I cannot in good conscience continue to pass off trillions of dollars to our children and grandchildren to fund this debacle.

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