DEMOCRATIC BLUE DOG COALITION -- (House of Representatives - May 22, 2007)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congressman Ross for yielding me this time.
Just a few days ago we stood here, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, my chairman, Congressman IKE SKELTON, who has two sons who are currently serving in the military, who is a great leader in this Congress. In the Defense bill, we did several things. We wanted to make sure that the troops knew that we supported them.
When we stood there, Congressman Ross, we said thank you, Chairman Skelton, because you believe what all Blue Dogs believe, accountability and responsibility. It established those benchmarks, that oversight which is so needed right now.
So in the Defense bill that gave the troops a 3.5 percent pay increase, a pay increase because there is such a gap, such a disparity between the private sector and our servicemen and women and their salaries. When they join the military, they are not trying to make a lot of money. But the fact is that those privates who are making $17,000 a year, those privates that are leaving their wives and kids at home, many of whom have to survive on food stamps, those privates who saw what we did in the Defense bill, who said that is great, 3.5 percent pay increase, a couple hundred dollars a year. The President of the United States said, Private, thank you for your service to your country, but that is too much of a pay increase.
Mr. Speaker, I hope the people at home are watching. The President of the United States said a couple hundred dollars more a year to a private making $17,000 a year is too much.
Now the Blue Dog Coalition believes in two things: one, fiscal responsibility; two, strong national defense.
How do the soldiers feel that are running convoys up and down Ambush Alley, scouting on the streets for roadside bombs and looking for snipers on rooftops, when they hear their President back at home, the President of the United States thinks a couple hundred dollars more a year is too much. The President says, hey, it would add up over the next 5 years, $7.3 billion; that is a lot of money.
But the same standard that the President uses where he says it is too much for the troops, it is not too much for the contractors who have proven that they mismanage over $9 billion of our hard-earned money, the contractors who don't want any accountability and don't want to see the light of day.
The President has threatened to veto the pay raise of our soldiers. I believe that is morally wrong during a time of war, especially when you are saying we are not asking for a 10 percent or 20 percent or 30 percent increase in their pay when they make $17,000, just a couple hundred dollars more a year, not even reaching $1,000 more. The President says no.
In the Defense bill that we passed that the President has said he will veto, and this was not some sly comment he said as an aside, the President pointed to a document and said, a 3.5 percent increase is too much.
Mr. Speaker, I ask that everyone in America write the President of the United States and say 3.5 percent increase in pay for our troops is not too much to ask for; a 3.5 percent increase during the Memorial Day weekend when we honor their servicemembers is not too much to ask for.
This is a pattern, Mr. Speaker, that upsets me greatly, a pattern of neglect that this White House has for our troops. See, when I was in Baghdad in 138-degree heat and this White House and the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld floated out the idea and said, Let's take away their imminent danger pay, their combat pay, a couple hundred dollars a month, because mission is accomplished. Let's take away their combat pay. It's over.
Now, fast forward 4 years later, the President says, hey, 3.5 percent is too much. This is a pattern of neglect of our troops. It is okay when the President wants to use our troops as props for a fancy speech in the Rose Garden. But when it comes to budget time when budgets are moral documents, the President says, too much. I respectfully beg to differ.
When we look at the debt of our country, just under $9 trillion, with $29,000 that every single man, woman and child in the United States owes towards our national debt. In March, 2007, we paid $21 billion in interest alone. Does it get any better? No. Why? Because there is no accountability. There is no tightening of the belt. It is wrong to pass this debt, this $9 trillion of debt, on to our children. That is wrong.
Mr. Speaker, when I know my wife, Jenny, and daughter, Maggie, are home in Bristol, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, when I know that they are watching on C-SPAN, I know that they know that their daddy and husband is fighting a good fight. They know that I cannot stand here in good conscience, Mr. Speaker, and allow this President to use our troops as props and yet can't give them a couple hundred dollars of pay increase to try to alleviate some of the pay disparity with the private sector.
I can't stand here in good conscience and pay our good tax dollars, $21 billion a month, just to pay the interest, without cutting off the spending spigot.
We need to rein in the spending of this country. The Blue Dogs are absolutely committed to doing that. We need partners from the other side of the aisle. We might be Democrats, and there might be Republicans on the other side of the aisle, but we are all Americans and we all owe $9 trillion in debt in America to foreign countries like Communist China and Mexico and Japan.
Enough is enough, Mr. Speaker. Enough is enough, and the Blue Dog Coalition, my brothers and sisters in this coalition, are taking the floor of the House of Representatives and all across America. We need the help of the American people to make sure people understand what is at stake. What is at stake is the future of America. What is at stake is the security, the financial security, of our country and the country that our children will inherit.
I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time tonight.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT