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Ms. WOOLSEY. Mr. Chairman, we'll be spending the next several days debating the Department of Defense budget, a whopping $519.2 billion. By anyone's accounting, that's a lot of money.
What we won't be debating is the future of our presence in Afghanistan. You'd think a Congress obsessed with the deficit and cutbacks would take a look at the costliest item on our books: the war in Afghanistan.
Nope. No debate on that. Instead, a few of us are coming here to the well to take a handful of 5-minute slots. This is for a war that has cost our Nation in blood and treasure, in ways we may never be able to add up.
And what are those costs?
What are those costs? As of today, we've spent $548 billion on the war. That's $10 billion a month. Actually, it's more than this year's DOD budget.
This year, we face the 2,000th death in Operation Enduring Freedom. More than 15,000 of our brave men and women in uniform have returned home wounded. Every day we lose one more servicemember to suicide. And the Afghan people, how many of them have died and been wounded?
So the other side of the aisle wants to talk about cost. Well, let's do that. What has this misguided war cost us in international standing? Is the U.S. more popular in the Middle East and Central Asia? No. Are we any safer? Probably not. As a new generation of Afghan children grow up in an occupied country, aren't they learning to hate the West? Yes.
What's the cost here at home? How many cops could we have put on the beat? How many homes could have been saved from foreclosure? How many farmers could get drought relief? How many small business jobs could have been created? How many more patients could we have cared for at our veterans hospitals? We'll never know. Because instead of having an honest and open debate about our spending priorities, we have to grab 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. That's not what the American people want. They want transparency. They want more debate. Further than that, they want this war to be over. They want our troops to come home.
So, yes, by all means, let's talk about cost; but let's not squeeze it in among $500 billion worth of weapons, planes, and the rest of the military industrial complex.
I urge the House leadership to have a real debate on the war in Afghanistan, and let's shine some light on how much it costs.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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