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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. VISCLOSKY. I appreciate my friend yielding to me.

I simply want to rise in support of the gentleman's amendment. The agreement that was reached--and I think some people used the agreement as an excuse to do nothing--is 40 years old. It was entered into in 1973. Well, they agreed to it. I graduated from law school in 1973. The world is a much different place today. People have changed. I certainly think our environmental consciousness has improved and our consciousness of our responsibility in this has improved. And I do think this is an opportunity to rectify that.

I serve on the Energy and Water Subcommittee of this great committee. The chairman chairs that Energy and Water Subcommittee. Unfortunately, in the Formerly Used Defense Sites that were cited by the gentleman, we have over 10,000 properties, which is one of the problems I think the gentleman alludes to as far as the costs we have to deal with. All the more reason, I believe, that we ought to be very assiduous and active in beginning to address these sites.

So I appreciate the gentleman raising it, and I certainly support his position.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I had my breath taken away with the assertion that the President of the United States might give away the most intimate defense secrets of this country to Russia, and that we are debating an amendment to Defense appropriations, with all of the other problems we face and all the threats we face in this country, based on the assumption that the President of the United States might give away the most intimate defense secrets of this country to Russia.

I would simply ask my colleagues to think about the underlying assumptions based in the gentleman's amendment and vote ``no,'' and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman responds to my concern by suggesting that he has discovered the possibility that the President of the United States is going to give away the most intimate secrets this country holds to Russia through the media. I'm wondering--and I ask this question simply rhetorically, not necessarily of my colleague--I wonder if that was FOX News. I wonder if he saw that on the Colbert Report recently. I wonder if that was on the John Stewart program.

I was watching CNN, and I didn't see any report of that yesterday; although, I saw that a baby was born in another country. Despite the world coming apart, that was the headline news. I didn't see MSNBC, and I don't know if that was it. Perhaps it was even on a BBC telecast. But I'm wondering what media outlets are providing this inside information as to the deliberations of the President of the United States to give away these cherished secrets.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman indicated, in query to my rhetorical question, that all I have to do is Google and I will discover the information that will lead to our knowledge that the President of the United States is considering giving away this very sensitive information.

It comes to mind, when the gentleman suggests I should Google it, how many different encounters I have had with members of the public who said, ``I saw it on the Internet; it must be true.'' For example, Members of Congress, after serving one term, receive a full salary pension for the rest of their lives; and Members of Congress receive free health care for the rest of their lives; and Members of Congress, for the last 4 years in a row, have received significant pay increases because they Googled it on the Internet, and so they secured very specific, accurate information. Perhaps we should go to Facebook or LinkedIn or reddit, or maybe we should tweet each other.

Again, in very serious concern, I would suggest my colleagues absolutely reject this amendment. I would ask for their vote against it, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. I appreciate the gentleman yielding and rise in strong support of his amendment.

The gentleman who is in opposition mentions that the administration mentions the United States Constitution. The fact is we have a constitutional responsibility. With the passage of more than a decade and a changing world--and I would agree with the gentleman, something else may be in store--we ought to revisit that issue. We ought to exercise our constitutional, congressional prerogative and have a full debate.

Again, the gentleman is providing over 1 1/2 years. In such a serious issue, I think even this Congress could come to grips with that type of fundamental issue and resolve the future.

So I strongly support what the gentleman is doing and appreciate his amendment.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. I appreciate the gentlewoman for yielding and the chairman's support.

Madam Chair, the amendment does seek to target an important part of the process when prosecuting a sexual assault--the investigation of the incident.

As the Congresswoman pointed out, the Inspector General found this particular part of the process lacking in terms of interviewing victims, investigating crime scenes, and notifying the sexual assault response coordinator. The funding proposed would provide the means to include special training for tactics and techniques when investigating crimes of these natures. I would join the chairman of the committee in thanking her for raising the issue and strongly support it.

I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. I appreciate the gentleman for offering the amendment.

Madam Chair, I would point out in my opening remarks that I think the fundamental responsibility of this body is to be engaged in these types of situations and to make determinations relative to our constitutional responsibility, particularly in dangerous situations when it involves military action. Syria, for example, is reported to have the fourth most sophisticated, integrated air defense of any nation on the planet Earth. Reports in the media indicate that Russia has kept these systems resupplied and up to date technologically.

It is but one of many things that we have to consider as far as the safety and well-being of those who are in our military forces, as well as, ultimately, what our national interests are.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. Madam Chair, I would make an additional observation on the gentleman's amendment.

There are political and diplomatic issues of Russia's relationship with the Assad regime. Altering this relationship over the long run may become an objective of U.S. foreign policy. Maybe. Maybe not. However, entering into an armed conflict with this relationship in mind is a dangerous step, among many other dangerous steps, and it renews the prospect of a more openly hostile relationship with a country that otherwise had ended the Cold War. So it's certainly an additional reason as to my appreciation for the gentleman offering the amendment.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. Madam Chair, from my perspective, I would also make it clear that what we're talking about at this point is the use of military force. There is no question that there is a significant and tragic humanitarian crisis taking place.

It is estimated that about 6.8 million people are in need of various types of humanitarian assistance in Syria itself. There are about 4.25 million people displaced within that country. We have 1.78 million Syrians displaced to neighboring countries. There were 486,972, as of the latest count, that are refugees in Jordan; 607,908 are refugees in Lebanon; 412,789 are refugees in Turkey; 161,014 are refugees in Iraq, and 92,367 in Egypt. It's one reason why today it's estimated that about $814 million of U.S. humanitarian aid has been expended for good purposes. That's certainly not what we're talking about here today, and I certainly would want to make our colleagues understand that as well.


Mr. VISCLOSKY. I appreciate the gentleman yielding.

Either to yourself or possibly for the author of the amendment, the question I have, because there has been a lot of talk, it is ``not the intent of the amendment'' to interfere with any intercooperation we have today with the Egyptians. It is not our intent not to be involved in the Sinai, but the amendment reads no funds, and then goes on to fund military operations in Egypt.

If I am an adviser, if I am a member of the uniformed services, how is the intent met under the particular restrictions of the amendment? That would be my question.


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