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Supplemental Appropriations and Our Nation's Veterans

Location: Washington, DC

SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS AND OUR NATION'S VETERANS -- (House of Representatives - March 15, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from California (Mr. Filner) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. FILNER. Madam Speaker, I want to explain to my colleagues and to Americans across the country what happened here today on the floor of the House, especially what happened to the veterans of these United States, veterans of past wars, veterans of the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran may be next.

We had a supplemental budget, they call it, on the floor today, a budget for $81 billion to fund our war in Iraq and Afghanistan; and they called it a supplemental so they could do it over and above the regular budget so they do not have to pay for it in ways that you and I have to pay for things or our businesses have to pay for things. They just create a bigger deficit without accountability.

So they are on their way to passing an $81 billion supplemental bill for our active duty troops; and yet when I brought on to the floor an amendment to that $81 billion that said let us put $3 billion into care for our veterans, those coming back from the wars today and those who have been in wars previous to this, I asked for a figure of $3 billion because that is what the veterans service organizations in this Nation said is what we need more than what the President requested in his recent budget proposal. So I brought on to the floor a $3 billion amendment to an $81 billion supplemental.

Keep in mind that we have a $2.5 trillion budget. We have this year at least a $400 billion deficit. We have an existing debt of $7.5 trillion. We are spending $1 billion every 2 or 3 days in the Middle East, and yet they say we do not have the $3 billion for our veterans.

That is what happened on the floor of the House today, my fellow Americans. They voted down the ability to deal with our veterans.

Those who are coming back today from Afghanistan and Iraq, the vast majority have the potential of having post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD; and yet when they will need the services in the coming year, we will have reduced those PTSD services because of the cut in the budget that the President has proposed and this Republican Congress will approve.

We will cut nursing care. We will cut research. We will cut prosthetic devices. But we will add more waiting time for those who want a mental health examination or a dental examination. We will add months and months and months to the waiting time for those who want their claims established. Yet when I asked today for $3 billion, the majority of this House said no.

We can afford the $81 billion. It was for our active duty. We can afford a $7.5 trillion debt. We can go into deficits for $400 billion this year, but no, no, let us not pay that $3 billion for our veterans.

I thought that was disgraceful. I thought that was unconscionable. I hope that when the Republican Members of this House go home, all the veterans across this country will say, how come you voted against that amendment to give $3 billion more for our health care? How come you did not respect our active duty, when they come home will not find the services? How come they negatively influenced the morale of our troops, because they know that they are not getting proper treatment back home?

I hope people ask that to those Republican Congressmen who voted down my motion on a technicality, when we have veterans from World War II and since and coming back today who are suffering.

Madam Speaker, I think that is disgraceful. I think the American people had better question this Congress about why they do not support the veterans of this United States.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Drake). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Brown) is recognized for 5 minutes.

(Mr. BROWN of Ohio addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.)

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