(202) 225 - 3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on the FY06 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which is expected to pass the House later today:
“Our highest duty as members of this Congress is to ensure our national security, to protect our homeland and to defend our people.
”We must use every tool in our arsenal - including military force - to capture, kill or disrupt international terrorists who are intent on striking the United States and our interests overseas. We must do whatever it takes to prevent the unthinkable - a nuclear, biological or chemical attack - from occurring on American soil. We must ensure that the American military remains the finest fighting force in the history of the world. And, we must succeed in Iraq - for the sake of our own national security, the stability of Iraq and the Middle East region, and our global standing and credibility.
“This defense appropriations bill will help us accomplish most of our national security objectives, and I will vote for it. It provides $409 billion for defense functions for fiscal 2006, including $45.3 billion in so-called emergency spending for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan - bringing the total appropriation from this Congress for these two missions to $314 billion.
“However, even though I support this bill, I believe it is simply Orwellian to call this new funding for Iraq and Afghanistan an ‘emergency.’ Emergencies are unforeseen events that are difficult, if not impossible, to plan for. The idea that this administration cannot predict and budget for the costs of our on-going military efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan is ludicrous.
“Furthermore, this budgetary sleight of hand epitomizes this administration’s failure to level with the American people on many aspects of this military action, as well as the unwillingness of this Republican Congress to fulfill its Constitutional duty to exercise real, effective oversight on the administration’s policies.
“We are simply not asking the tough questions that voters expect us to ask on national security. In Iraq, it is obvious that our mission is not accomplished, let alone succeeding. More than 1,700 American soldiers have lost their lives there. Americans account for 85 percent of the coalition forces in Iraq, but represent 98 percent of the casualties.
“And, as Tom Friedman wrote last week in the New York Times:
'Our core problem in Iraq remains Donald Rumsfeld’s disastrous decision - endorsed by President Bush - to invade Iraq on the cheap. From the day the looting started, it has been obvious that we did not have enough troops there.'
“Mr. Friedman added:
'Almost every problem we face in Iraq today . . . Flows from not having gone into Iraq with the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force. We cannot even secure the two miles of highway that separates the Baghdad Airport and the Green Zone.'
“Yet, this Congress has not conducted effective oversight on the administration’s refusal to heed the advice of senior military officials, who said more troops would be needed to secure Iraq; on the costs of this action; on the incompetent post-war reconstruction effort; or, on detainee abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantanamo.
“Effective Congressional oversight need not be adversarial. I believe that every American wants our nation to succeed in Iraq. But the truth is, this administration has failed to articulate a convincing, compelling success strategy.
“And, even as I vote for this defense appropriations bill today, I believe it is imperative that this Congress embrace its legislative duty, work with this administration, and ensure that such a strategy is implemented immediately. Our troops - and the American people - deserve no less.”