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Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Clobal War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006--Conference

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, the conference report we have before us contains $94.5 billion in funding for the war on terror, hurricane recovery in the gulf coast, pandemic flu preparation, and border security.

We have to fund our troops. Therefore, I will support passage of this conference report. But I do so with reservations, mainly because resources for the training and equipping of the Iraqi army have been funded well below the level requested by the President. As all of my colleagues know, training and equipping the Iraqi army is imperative to the ultimate success of our mission there. The security of the Iraqi people, ensured by a properly trained and equipped Iraqi army, is our exit strategy.

Unfortunately, the must-pass nature of this bill has led to the inclusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in unrequested, nonemergency spending and typical run-of-the-mill earmarks. Examples of unrequested and nonemergency additions to this emergency spending bill include three Marine Corps V-22 tilt rotor aircraft, two KC-130J tanker aircraft, four C-130J cargo aircraft, the advance procurement of seven C-17 cargo aircraft, and one Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV. It also includes $975 million for SINCGARS tactical radios, $675 million in Army tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicle upgrades, $130 million for Army STRYKER vehicles above combat losses, and $567 million for Army trucks. None of these were requested by the administration, and they are not critically needed to aid in the war on terror.

Let's take a closer look at just one of these add-ons. The conference report includes $230 million to buy three Marine Corps V-22s. The President did not request any money for the V-22 Osprey, which is still in the development and testing stage. In fact, the V-22 has not even been deployed to an operational squadron yet. If continued development and testing goes well, the Marine Corps will send the V-22 to an operational squadron in the summer or fall of 2007. I have to question why funding for a nonoperational aircraft that is still in the development stages is considered to be an emergency in this bill. The answer is that there is no emergency need for this aircraft--if there was, I am more than confident that the President would have requested the appropriate funding in the emergency supplemental submitted last February.

Additionally, the conference report contains a provision which authorizes the Secretary of the Navy to reimburse shipbuilding contractors for ``business disruptions'' that were incurred during and after Hurricane Katrina. This provision may increase Navy shipbuilding costs by $140 million over what the administration had requested. The provision is expected to primarily benefit Northrop Grumman's shipyard in Pascagoula, MS. This language substitutes Government funding for what insurers would pay to shipbuilders. Northrop Grumman is suing its insurer, Factory Mutual, for those costs associated with Hurricane Katrina. However, in the near term, the appropriators have decided the best course is to arrange a giveaway to an insurance company and a shipbuilder.

Furthermore, the explanatory statement accompanying this conference report contains language stating that the conferees agree with House and Senate language delaying the Department of Transportation, DOT, rulemaking which proposes to give domestic air carriers with foreign investors more control over business matters. Yet this legislative language does not include any related provisions, and rightly so, in my view. This greater control would only be granted for business matters that do not relate to safety or security and only when the investors' home countries provide our airlines with investment and market access. I assure my colleagues this statement was not included by accident, and its intent seems to be to signal to DOT that Congress does not approve of its proposed rulemaking.

Here are some other notable projects funded as ``emergencies'' in this measure: $16 million for hurricane repair in the State of Pennsylvania; $40 million for sugar and sugarcane disaster assistance in Florida, which was not requested; $40 million for sugar and sugarcane disaster assistance in Louisiana, which was not requested by the President; $400,000 for disaster assistance to sugar cooperatives in Texas, which was not requested by the President. $400,000 to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Demonstration barrier, which was not requested by the President; $9 million in drought emergency assistance to communities in Nevada and New Mexico; $225,000 to the Missouri Soybean Association for the purchase of a building for use as an incubation center in the Kansas City metropolitan statistical area; $100,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, MD for renovation of Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington Clubhouse No. 2, Clubhouse No. 4, Clubhouse No. 10, Clubhouse No. 11, and Clubhouse No. 14 in the District of Columbia; $100,000 to Wesleyan College in Macon, GA, for facility renovation, buildout, and construction; $125,000 to Craig County, VA, for purchase, renovation, buildout, and upgrade of a library.

I think we can fund this war--and indeed win this war--while also budgeting for this war. We know the war is going to cost more than the over $400 billion we will have appropriated to date upon enactment of this conference report, and we know that the war is not going to end as quickly as most of us would prefer. But we need to continue our military operations until the job is done. Withdrawing our military presence prematurely is not an option in my view, the view of many of my colleagues, nor the view of the President or his advisers. We are in it to win.

Instead of fixing the problem, and fixing it will not be easy, we have only succeeded in making it bigger, more unstable, more complicated, and much more expensive. And adding hundreds of billions of dollars that are more conveniently designated as emergency expenditures--so that they don't have to be budgeted for along with other national priorities--is only making the fiscal problem that much greater.

Again, Mr. President, it is unfortunate that, at a time of war and with such a huge deficit and burgeoning debt, we continue to fund unnecessary projects and load up emergency supplemental appropriations bills with nonemergency items. We need to concentrate on providing the resources necessary for our young men and women swerving in Iraq to successfully complete their mission, so that they can return safely to their families, and a grateful Nation.

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