WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following Floor statement regarding the supplemental appropriations bill. As prepared for delivery:
"Mr. Speaker, this supplemental appropriations legislation is a pragmatic, bipartisan compromise that addresses the critical needs of the American people.
"Will every Member here be happy with the substance of the two amendments that we are going to consider? No.
"Will every Member here get what he or she wants? Again, the answer is no.
"However, our nation is at war. We have 150,000 men and women in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan. Catastrophic floods continue to wreak havoc in Iowa and other states in the Midwest. And, millions of our workers are struggling to make ends meet because they’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own.
"These two amendments address these needs, as well as many others.
"The first Amendment will provide much-needed funding for our troops on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"And, whether you agree or disagree with the President’s decision to launch the war in Iraq, with the prosecution of this war, or with the President’s stay-the-course strategy, I believe the American people want us to provide our troops with the resources they need to defend themselves.
"It also is important to note that the second Amendment includes important policy provisions regarding the war in Iraq.
"First, it prohibits military construction funds from being used to establish permanent bases in Iraq. And second, it requires reconstruction aid for Iraq to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Iraqi government.
"Additionally, the second Amendment includes major legislative items that the White House previously threatened to veto, but now has agreed to accept.
"Among other things, this Amendment expands the education benefits that veterans receive under the GI bill to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education, and allowing service members to transfer educational benefits to spouses and dependents.
"Thus, this legislation supports our troops not only when they are abroad, but when they return home.
"We know from our experience with the original GI Bill that this legislation will foster an educated workforce and a vibrant economy. Plus, it is simply the right thing to do.
"The President also threatened to veto an extension of unemployment insurance. But this second Amendment includes a 13-week extension for workers in every state who have exhausted their benefits.
"The Administration also threatened to veto this legislation if it included a moratorium on seven Medicaid regulations that will cut services for seniors, families and those with disabilities.
"But now, it has agreed to a moratoria on six of the seven regulations – which was overwhelmingly supported by members on both sides of the aisle who voted for the Protecting Medicaid Safety Net Act by a vote of 349 to 62.
"The second Amendment also includes critical disaster assistance in the wake of devastating tornadoes and floods in the Midwest, as well as funding to strengthen the New Orleans levees – as requested by the President – and housing vouchers for those left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.
"I want to commend Chairmen Obey and Rangel, as well as Minority Leader Boehner and Ranking Member Lewis, for their leadership on this legislation.
"This legislation is not perfect. No legislation is. But it will provide for our troops in the field, while addressing critical priorities here at home.
"And, it has my support."