(202) 421 - 4936
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today regarding the Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Appropriations Bill:
“The bill most central to the defense of our nation and our resolve to defeat terrorism has in the final analysis become the carrier, in a corruption of the process, of the special interest objectives of powerful members of Congress who could not prevail in a fair and open consideration of their agenda.
“Republicans have shamefully loaded up the defense funding bill, which most members of Congress would feel compelled to vote for under almost any circumstance, with unpopular and unrelated provisions. These range from highly controversial oil drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, to a one percent across-the-board spending cut – to who knows what else?
“The defense appropriations bill has truly become loaded with more ornaments than the Christmas tree that is lit up in front of the Capitol tonight. This is not the way to treat a bill that funds our nation’s war effort, national defenses, and feeds and equips our troops.
“Both Houses voted to include in this bill an anti-torture amendment by Senator McCain that would put into law what most Americans would agree is a simple matter of our values. However, at a time of war, Republican leaders unconscionably allowed this critical bill to languish while they once again tried to ignore the wishes of an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both houses on the issue of torture and bow to the whims of the Bush White House.
“As usual, Republican leaders abdicated their responsibility to act as an independent branch of government and pushed the White House’s partisan and misguided agenda. Thankfully they did not prevail.
“Finally, let me add on the McCain amendment. I believe the President and the Vice President never attempted to explain their opposition to Senator McCain's anti-torture amendment to the American people because they simply did not want to have to defend the indefensible - torture - which is the tactic of tyrants, and which is anathema to the American values that we share.
“And I believe that the Administration’s position undermined our credibility in the world. It harmed our efforts in the war on terror. It made more likely the exposure of our own troops to torture. And, it betrayed our cherished American values.
“This is an issue of who we are as a people. And we must never let it be said that when this generation of Americans was forced to confront evil that we succumbed to the tactics of the tyrant; that we stooped to the depths of the dictator.
“With the inclusion of the McCain Amendment, this Conference Report expresses the will of the American people.”