WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer delivered the following statement today on the $87 billion Iraq supplemental currently being debated:
“Mr. Speaker, I will vote for this Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill providing $87 billion for our continuing efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We must give our troops in the field, who have performed brilliantly in deposing the despotic Taliban and Hussein regimes, the equipment and materiel that they need to succeed in their missions. That was not done with our previous appropriation. It must be done with this one.
“Failure in Iraq is not an option. And additional funding is vital to our efforts.
“I also believe the reconstruction grants in this bill are inextricably linked to our opportunity to achieve success. As the Washington Post stated yesterday: ‘Rebuilding the electricity grid, fixing the water supply, getting the oil flowing, maintaining public safety – all this is central to hopes for stability and representative government.’
“However, Mr. Speaker, my support today does not come without reservation or deep concern about Administration failures to date.
“This appropriation is larger than 10 of the 13 annual spending bills! And with its approval, we will have spent more than $150 billion for the war effort in Iraq this year alone.
“American troops and taxpayers are bearing a disproportionate share of the burden, and I believe the responsibility for that falls directly on the Bush Administration and its failed diplomacy.
“Is this the same George W. Bush who said three years ago: ‘If we are an arrogant nation, they will resent us. If we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us?’
“The resentment that we are experiencing in many parts of the world today is not the product of humility. It is the product of this Administration’s unilateral and dogmatic approach to foreign policy.
“Virtually every assumption that this Administration made going into Iraq has either been wrong or yet to be proved correct.
“Administration officials disputed General Shenseki’s prediction that we would need several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. Today, we do not have enough military personnel to secure Iraqi weapons caches.
“Assistant Defense Secretary Wolfowitz assured us that: ‘We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.’
“Consideration of this bill today demonstrates the falsity of that claim.
“Furthermore, the Administration’s post-war planning has been abysmal. As Republican Senator Hagel stated in September: ‘I think [the Bush Administration] did a miserable job of planning for a post-Saddam Iraq. They treated many in the Congress, most in the Congress, like a nuisance.’ To that extent, our allies are treated like the people’s elected representatives here.
“This Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the Executive Branch accountable.
“I am pleased that the Appropriations Committee scrutinized this legislation last week, and adopted amendments I offered requiring the Administration to provide quarterly reports on a range of issues and advanced review of no-bid contracts, raising justifiable concerns of war profiteering.
“Finally, I believe the international community must recognize that the interests of the civilized world coalesce in Iraq.
“And thus the law-supporting nations of the world have an obligation to assist in securing and reconstructing that nation. I urge the international community to step up and meet its responsibility at the donor conference next week.
“Mr. Speaker, I supported our policy to remove the Hussein regime from power. It was a dangerous, genocidal regime that threatened the security of the region and the world.
“Having undertaken this task, we must succeed. The American people expect it and our security demands it.
“We must, therefore, on behalf of the brave young men and women who are bearing the risks and burdens of this endeavor and our taxpayers who are bearing its costs, carefully and with conviction review the policies, plans and actions being proposed and taken to accomplish this critical objective.
“The war on terrorism is a very different kind of war. There are no defined battlefields and no easily identifiable enemy. It is a global war. And, it is, like all wars, dangerous and costly. But, it is a war we must win if freedom and security is to be achieved in this 21st Century.”