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U. S. Troops Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC




Mrs. McCASKILL. Mr. President, I rise to speak in favor of the amendment that will be offered by Senator Obama. Our amendment takes part of the legislation we have introduced, the Dignity for the Wounded Warriors Act, and moves it to the front of the line.

The question which has to be asked is, Why? Why is it important that this go into this bill at this time? There is a lot of talk about what should and shouldn't go into the supplemental. I think it is important we realize if we don't act immediately to begin to take the kind of care of our wounded they need to have, that they should have, that we are morally bound to give them, then we shouldn't be passing any more supplemental funding for any more activities in this war.

It is of primary importance to us that we take care of the men and women who have been wounded, who have given more than most Americans will ever give as it relates to this conflict in the Middle East.

I have to say, if you step back and look at this problem, it is not just the active military hospitals that this amendment deals with, but it is the entire system of medical care for our wounded and for our veterans.

I was struck last week when a report came out on all the veterans facilities around the country. This was an internal report done by the Veterans' Administration but contained in that report was a startling revelation. In that report they found there was a bat infestation in a veterans hospital in the State of the Senator from Oregon.

Now, one would think that if you found a bat infestation in a hospital alarms would go off, lights would signal, and the head of that hospital would step up and say: I failed. Oh, no. The head of that hospital said the bats had been helpful to the insect population. Understand that with this particular species of bat, there is more bacteria contained in an ounce of the droppings from this animal than any other species of bat. Microbiologists yearn to study these droppings because of all of the bacteria that is contained in them.

Something is terribly wrong when we have a veterans hospital in this country that is putting up with an infestation of bats, and if we don't have it in us to fix this medical facility and all others like it in this country, then shame on us. Shame on our Nation that we can't do what we must do to take care of those who have taken care of us.

All the rhetoric about ``support the troops''--forget about it if we can't do basic medical care for those who are coming home who are wounded. We specifically deal with that in our amendment, with the additional funds in this supplemental that we have added to the President's budget to care for our veterans and veterans facilities.

There is no job we have here that is more important. I hope my colleagues will support this amendment and the addition of about $1.7 billion in funding to the supplemental for veterans care. They are both important. They are both moral imperatives. It is time we make that phrase--``support our troops''--more than a political phrase.

Mr. President, I yield to the Senator from Oregon, or to go back to regular order.

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