BLUE DOG COALITION DEFICITS AND DEBT BACKGROUND -- (House of Representatives - May 15, 2007)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. MATHESON. Well, I thank my colleague from Arkansas for conducting this Special Order tonight. That list, that article that you just were referring to is not a one-time deal. I think we all have a sense after over 4 years of the Iraqi operation having taken place, I think we have all heard stories, and those news articles seem to come out more and more often where money has been spent and we haven't gotten result in terms of rebuilding the infrastructure. That is a cause of concern and that is one of the motivations behind the Blue Dogs coming together with legislation in this Congress called the Operation Iraqi Freedom Cost Accountability Act.
The Blue Dogs have come up with this bill which has been given the number H. Res. 97, and I want to take a brief moment to walk through what this legislation does.
Now, quite frankly, before we go through the specifics, I should say it puts forth tangible and commonsense proposals to ensure future transparency and the accountability in the funding of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is a first step. There is more we probably need to do, but this is an important first step to make sure that resources are getting to our troops in the field in a reasonable manner.
There are four crucial points in this legislation demanding for fiscal accountability in Iraq.
First, it calls for transparency on how Iraq war funds are spent.
Second, it calls for the creation of a Truman Commission to investigate the awarding of contracts.
And, third, it calls for the need to fund the Iraqi war through the normal appropriations process and not through emergency supplemental appropriations processes.
Fourth, it calls for using American resources to improve the Iraqi assumption of internal policing operations.
Now, the resolution also calls for the Iraqi Government and its people to progress towards full responsibility for internal policing of the country because ultimately that is where we need to go.
Now recently, and I know other speakers have mentioned this, a significant accomplishment took place in terms of the Blue Dogs working with the Armed Services Committee to include key provisions of the Blue Dog accountability legislation in the Department of Defense authorization bill that we are going to be voting on here in the House of Representatives later on this week.
In doing so, I think it's an important first step toward ensuring greater fiscal transparency in the funding of the war in Iraq.
The American people deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and that our troops have the resources they need to succeed. The Blue Dogs are committed to passing legislation that accomplishes that goal.
Now, members of the Blue Dog Coalition also believe strongly that funding requests should come through the normal appropriations process, as I said, rather than through these multiple emergency supplemental requests. Let's make it part of our overall budget so we can plan accordingly.
I think that again with the Defense authorization bill coming up this week and with key components of the Blue Dog legislation included in that bill, I think that's a significant step forward for this country. I am proud that the Blue Dogs were able to play an important role in moving this legislation forward.
Mr. ROSS. I thank the gentleman from Utah, and the gentleman's right, the Blue Dog Coalition, we want to thank Chairman Skelton for including key provisions of our bill, H. Res. 97, in the Defense authorization bill.
H. Res. 97 was previously introduced by Blue Dog members and calls for transparency in how Iraq War funds are spent. Specifically, the Defense authorization bill addresses the lack of oversight and accountability in the war by requiring that the Government Accountability Office, commonly referred to as the GAO, report every 6 months on the handling of contracts in Iraq.
In addition, Blue Dog members applaud the inclusion of measures in the Defense authorization bill which establish essential management goals for the Department of Defense and expand the authority of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction to include all reconstruction funding, regardless of source or fiscal year.
Again, we're all about providing the funding our troops need. We want to make sure that funding gets to them and that this administration's accountable for it and that the Iraqi people are accountable for how the money is being spent that we send to them.
Mr. Speaker, if you have got any comments or questions or concerns for
us, you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, that's email@example.com.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT