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Help America to Vote Act

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, probably by the end of the week, if things stay the way they have been,
unfortunately we will have some injured troops and maybe some will lose their lives.

There is a resolve by the American people and this body to stay the course. If anybody has looked at what we have done in a reasonable, rational manner—and that is all I ask the world to do—they will see great resolve on our part. The biggest contribution we have made to the Iraqi people has nothing to do with money. It is the 350, somewhere in that number, growing by the day, young men and women. That is our biggest contribution. We have spent a lot of money, a billion dollars a week, to try to transform a country from tyranny to civility, and the middle is chaos. We are making great improvements. That is an honest statement.

Having been to Iraq, one can see the resolve in the soldiers' eyes. I dare say there may be some men and women in the Armed Forces who are so decent that they would say: Give the Iraqi people money, we do not want to be paid back. That is the strength of our country.

We are in it for the long haul. There is more dying to come. There is more money to be spent. If we try to build up the infrastructure in the next months to come, chances are it will be attacked because we have not secured the country yet. To expect it to be secured in 6 months is impossible, because the Iraqi Army and all the bad people who are in it have gone into the civilian population.

Senator McConnell is right; they are not just killing Americans. They are killing people who are trying to transform the country into democracy.

People may say, oh, this loan proves they were over there for our oil. I cannot tell my colleagues how much it bothers me to hear that because my colleagues know it is not true and I know it is not true. Nobody in a rational thought process would send 350 people and climbing to their death, spend $70 billion and climbing, to make a $10 billion loan that may never be collected.

So people can say what they want to say. If our country gives in to that way of thinking, and if we are swayed by people who hate us to begin with and we change our policy based on people who are never going to be with us, we will never get this right.

My hope is that the Iraqi people who see our soldiers on the ground, see the schools being opened and built, and the hospitals being repaired would be the first to reject this kind of reasoning, because God knows we are not there to take anything they have. We are there to help them, but we are also there to help us.

Why did we go to war? Why did we pick people from South Carolina, California, and all the places in between to go to a foreign land and risk their lives and have some die? To make sure that Saddam Hussein could do no more damage to the region or us than he has already done.

President Bush has shown great leadership. He has said that the 21st century will not be ruled or dictated by terrorists, dictators, and murderers. He is absolutely right. God bless him for his resolve.

This amendment puts $10 billion on the table, unencumbered, to spend however you would like. This chart shows from $95 billion to $153 billion of debt incurred to Saddam Hussein. The reason I am so passionate about this, I do not want to give in to a great lie. We cannot buy our way out of this problem. We cannot take $10 billion of taxpayer money and people are losing their jobs to buy our way out of a great lie.

It would be terrible if the people of this country, who have sacrificed so much, wound up not getting a dime back for doing a good thing, and all they invested in Iraq to produce profit and money went to pay the people back who kept Saddam Hussein in power. That is unacceptable to me, and that is the scenario we are charting. Please do not do that. It would be bad for everyone. It would not make the world safer.

How much time do I have remaining, Mr. President?


Mr. GRAHAM of South Carolina. Mr. President, I am new to the Senate. This has been a terrific debate in the best traditions of the Senate. I come to this conclusion after having listened to people I admire and respect, such as our leader, the President, the Vice President, and Secretary Powell. I asked myself: Who are you to disagree?

I thought about it, and I came to this conclusion. I do disagree. I know they are genuine in their beliefs, but I just do not believe we are being unfair to the people of Iraq. We have lost 332 lives liberating Iraq. We are spending $1 billion a week, and all we are asking for is once the country gets something going—we are going to build schools and hospitals, we are going to do great things for the Iraqi people—but once the oil refineries are fixed, because that is what makes the money, and once we do other things to get you back in business, consider helping us because we are deep in debt. We borrowed every penny of this $87 billion. And I would vote tomorrow to borrow more money to make our country safe.

We have one of the highest deficits in our Nation's history because our economy has turned down. But we have to win this war. The only way we will lose this war—here is where I am tonight—is if the American people leave. It is very hard for me to go home and explain how you have to give $20 billion to a country that is sitting on $1 trillion worth of oil and the net result of this policy we are pursuing is the people who died to liberate Iraq are going to be left holding the bag, and the only people who will get paid back are the people who lent money to Saddam Hussein. If we follow that policy, people will leave us because it is not fair to the taxpayer. We need to make sure we don't divide ourselves here at home.

This is very important, not just for international politics but for domestic politics.

The French and the Germans voted today for a resolution, but in the same breath they said they would send no troops and no money.

We are pretty much alone for a while. Let us stay together and not ask more of the American people. It would be unfair to ask.

I really do love my country. We give $15 billion in aid to Africa and we don't want a penny back. We are giving $10 billion in grants, and we don't want a penny back. But if we are going to build your infrastructure to make you prosperous, help us because we are in debt. And if other countries will do the right thing, we will even forgive that.

The biggest thing we have done for Iraq is give our young men and women, and more are going to die. That is a fact.

Tonight is important. We need to stay together and look at the American taxpayer, and say, Yes, you can be helped too.
Don't feel guilty to ask for some of your money back, because you have given and you have given, and there is more to give.

Please vote for this amendment for the sake of the American people.

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