President's request for an additional $87 billion for the military and
for the reconstruction of Iraq is eye-popping. This request comes at
a time when the American people are expressing serious reservations
about the President's go-it-alone occupation of Iraq. The American people
are asking questions about the reconstruction plan.
has before it the President's request for $87 billion for Iraq. The
request arrived late Wednesday without detailed justification or explanation.
That explanation arrived over the weekend. And we are gathered here
today with the Committee vote on the supplemental expected as early
as September 30. I hope that we will not be in such a rush. This is
a complicated, controversial, and incredibly costly request that has
enormous long-range funding and policy implications. It is not something
that this Committee should rubberstamp. We ought to examine this request,
line by line, and see if the high-minded rhetoric coming out of the
White House matches its proposals. I believe that two days of hearings
are not sufficient, and I hope that the Committee will take more time
to consider this request. We need expert witnesses and independent analysis
to advise us on these matters.
$87 billion request, the President asks future generations of Americans
to pay for his war in Iraq. By refusing to pay for this war today and
instead exacerbating the largest deficit in the nation's history, President
Bush is forcing those young Americans who are now in kindergarten to
pick up the tab for his war in Iraq.
President's $87 billion request is approved, the deficit for Fiscal
Year 2004 could reach $535 billion. That assumes spending the $164 billion
Social Security surplus in the streets of Baghdad. Such a deficit totals
nearly $2,400 for every person in this country, almost $10,000 for every
family of four. Just a few short years ago, we had eliminated annual
deficits and were on a glide path to wiping out the debt by 2008. But
that financial security has been destroyed in this Administration's
fiscal "shock and awe" campaign.
unsubstantiated justification for his war in Iraq has left the nation
questioning the White House's current efforts. The Administration was
wrong, it seems, on its claims of an Iraqi broad-scale, advanced weapons
of mass destruction capability; the Administration was wrong on its
claims that American soldiers would be welcomed with open arms as liberators;
and the Administration remains wrong in its refusal to share authority
and responsibility for the restoration of Iraq with the rest of the
world. We obviously cannot accomplish this task alone; yet, that is
exactly what we continue to attempt. It is no wonder that the country
is losing confidence and patience in the President's Iraqi program.
Many of us on this panel have seen what a loss of public confidence
and trust can do to a war effort, to a government, and, indeed, to the
fabric of a nation. I saw it in Vietnam. Have we not learned the lessons
of our own past?
the best hopes for an Iraqi democracy, we have begun to realize the
worst fears of occupation. Hit-and-run murders of American soldiers.
Guerilla tactics. Sabotage. We have forged a cauldron of contempt for
America that may poison the efforts of peace throughout the Middle East
and, indeed, the world. Winning the war has proved, by comparison, a
far easier task than winning the peace. We had the weapons to win the
war, but we have not shown the wisdom to win the peace.
become tragically clear is that the United States has no strong plan
for reconstruction and no clear concept for maintaining order. America
is stumbling through the dark, hoping by luck to find the lighted path
to peace and stability in Iraq.
Administration's single-minded focus on Iraq has ignored, in large respect,
the terrorist threat that produced the attack of September 11, 2001.
The leader of that attack on our shores has not been found. Eyes have
been trained solely on Iraq, while we remain vulnerable here at home.
Many of us on this Committee have tried to better protect the American
people from future terrorist attack. But, time after time, the Administration
has actively opposed efforts to boost homeland security funds. In this
request, however, the Bush Administration seems very willing to back
Iraqi homeland security dollars.
fought against a $200 million boost for America's police officers, firefighters,
and paramedics. But Iraqi first responders would get $290 million through
I along with Representatives David Obey and Martin Sabo offered an amendment
to the homeland security appropriations conference report that would
have provided $125 million to hire 1,300 customs inspectors on America's
borders. That amendment was rejected as too expensive. Yet, on the exact
same day, the President sent Congress this emergency request for $150
million for 5,350 border inspections personnel including 2,500 customs
inspectors – in Iraq.
of the President's war in Iraq grows by the day. And even when the supplemental
requests stop and our soldiers do finally come home, the American people
will continue to pay for this war for years to come.
America faces two wars at once: the war brought against us with the
attacks of September 11, 2001, and the war that we brought to Iraq on
March 19, 2003. The Iraqi war was the wrong war, for the wrong reasons,
against the wrong enemy. It is a tragedy of American foreign policy
that the sympathy which most of the world had for the United States
after 9-11 has been squandered by the Bush Administration's headlong
pursuit of an unnecessary preemptive war against a sovereign country,
a country which posed no imminent and direct threat to our national
you are the President's point man for Iraqi reconstruction. You have
been placed in an almost untenable position by a flawed policy and a
nondescript plan that some have called "compassionate colonialism."
I believe that the best approach for this Administration is to garner
more dollars, men, and expertise from the United Nations. It is painfully
obvious that, despite the best efforts of Mr. Bremer and those in charge
of the American occupation of Iraq, we cannot continue on this path
alone. We ought to seek help before we completely alienate the international
community and give Iraq a future of chaos instead of stability.
ago, Congress provided more than $70 billion in funds for military and
reconstruction activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, we learn that
the Administration needs far more money for Iraq far sooner than it
either anticipated or admitted. When it came to the President's last
supplemental bill for Iraq, Congress could not get straight answers
from the Administration on the expected cost or duration of the Iraq
operations. We cannot afford to settle for evasions this time around.