'Bush's Supplemental Request an $87 Billion Bailout for Mistakes
and Miscalculations of His Administration'
D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke this afternoon
on the House floor in opposition to the President's $87 billion
Supplemental budget request for Iraq and in favor of the Democratic
substitute offered by Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin. Below
are her remarks.
as Members of Congress we recognize that we have no greater responsibility
than that charged to us in the Preamble of the Constitution: to
'provide for the common defense.' We all take that responsibility
seriously on both sides of the aisle. The United States military
is the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped fighting force the
world has ever known. This excellence is due to the dedication of
our courageous military men and women and their commanders.
also due to the commitment of this and previous Congresses over
many years to 'provide for the common defense' -- by ensuring that
our forces have the tools and technologies they need to prevail
on the battlefield.
our position was for going to war, once we went in, we were one
team, one fight. Our military performed their duties excellently.
But it is painfully clear that this Administration had no plan to
protect our men and women in Iraq against the possibility of a guerilla
campaign. The war Supplemental we approved last spring is proof
enough. The President asked for and the Congress provided $63 billion
to ensure that our soldiers could complete their mission successfully
revealed by our esteemed colleague Congressman Jack Murtha, a decorated
veteran whose defense credentials are beyond question, our military
personnel are short of Kevlar inserts for their body armor, short
of tracks for their Bradley fighting vehicles, short of jammers
to protect themselves from the detonation of explosive devices,
and short of spare parts generally for the equipment on which they
rely. Our men and women in uniform deserve better.
the President asked for this $63 billion dollars, we gave it to
him. We never got an accounting for it. So when the President hit
us with his bombshell of asking for $87 billion additionally, we
said we would like to see an accounting of the $63 billion that
was appropriated last summer. We want to know why our men and women
in uniform do not have the protection they need during this post-war
period. We want an accounting, a justification for the $87 billion
you are asking for now and we want an accountability for this failed
billion request, my colleagues, did not yet even include the funding
for the Kevlar and the jammers and the spare parts and the Bradley
tracks. It wasnt really until Mr. Murtha made a big issue
of it, and I commend him and I commend Chairman Lewis for putting
this in the bill with the help of course from the Chairman of the
Appropriations Committee, but it was not in the Presidents
request. It was not in the Presidents request to protect our
troops with what they needed. They had a chance to do that and they
did not. I find that very unacceptable.
Corps General Anthony Zinni said, and others have repeated here,
the level of sacrifice has not been matched by the level of planning.
What he exactly said is this: 'They should never be put on a battlefield
without a strategic plan. Not only for fighting, our generals will
take care of that, but for the aftermath and winning that war. Where
are we, the American people, if we accept this level of sacrifice
without that level of planning.'
wants to know: What was that $63 billion spent on? Besides the gold-plated,
single-source, no-bid contracts for politically-connected contractors,
we simply do not know.
why we take issue with the $87 billion request. Dont take
it from me. General David Petraeus, a great general whom many of
us have met on our visits to the theater. He has said that U.S.
engineers called for $15 million to turn a cement factory into a
state-of-the-art factory. Our troops, working with the Iraqis, got
it up and running, not for $15 million but for $80,000. For $80,000.
We were not responsible for $15 million state-of-the-art. Its
up and running for $80,000.
this over and over again. Again, to date, theres been no accounting
for that money, no accountability for the policy. As a result, American
soldiers are taking virtually all the risks and American taxpayers
are paying virtually all the bills. Our men and women in uniform
deserve better. The American people deserve better.
no mistake: the Presidents Supplemental budget request is
an $87 billion bailout for mistakes and miscalculations of this
Administration. They miscalculated the risk. You saw and you heard
General Zinnis statement about that. They misunderstood the
challenge. And they misrepresented the cost.
into the war, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told Mr.
Murtha and Mr. LewisAppropriations subcommittee on defense:
'Were dealing with a country that can really finance its own
reconstruction, and relatively soon.' How wrong that was.
know that this is not the end of it. The Administration has told
us they need $50 to $75 billion more for infrastructure. When we
asked them why they didnt put this in the Presidents
$87 billion request, they said that they were going to get it from
oil revenues and our allies. Again, a miscalculation. That is obviously
not happening, so let us be clear - what we are considering today
is not a final package, it is a down payment. It is an installment,
with more to come.
people look to us to ask the difficult questions, to ensure accountability,
and not to rubber stamp a policy that has failed in terms of its
planning and has therefore endangered the lives of our sons and
daughters in uniform.
appreciate what we need to do. We must address the needs of our
forces in Iraq. We must bring stability to that country. We must
invest in the infrastructure.
wants us to do a gold-plated, no-bid contract version of the story.
They want the gold-plated version, and they have a tin ear to what
the American people are saying. They all say: 'We honor our responsibilities.
We honor our men and women in uniform. But please do not put our
children into debt, our grandchildren into debt, without some idea
of how this is going to be paid for and some idea of what the costs
have been better off if we had internationalized this from the start,
but we didnt. So now what we need to do is what Mr. Murtha
said over and over again. We need to energize Iraq -- turn on the
lights and the water so we can proceed with the reconstruction.
To hear the Administration tell the tale, this has all been done.
But nonetheless, more is required. We must Iraqitize it by giving
the Iraqis more authority and responsibility to do what they need
to do for their country.
internationalize the effort so our troops are not taking all the
risks and our taxpayers paying all the bills.
before us today is simple: what is the best way to achieve this
goal? It is a complicated matter, but the question is simple. What
is the best way to do this? The answer to me is clear: the Obey
substitute. It is the more responsible approach, both fiscally and
more for our men and women in uniform before, during, and after
their deployments. The Obey amendment better protects American taxpayers
and their children and grandchildren because it is paid for, and,
by having the World Bank administer a loan program for a portion
of the reconstruction effort, will hopefully stimulate more international
the Obey amendment does more to support our troops and encourage
international participation in stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq and
costs the American taxpayers less. It deserves our support.
the Obey amendment will not be allowed to be presented and voted
on the floor. And I know why - its brilliant. If it were presented
as an alternative to the $87 billion Bush request, it would probably
attract Republican support. It would have an impact on this failed
policy, so sadly we wont have a chance to vote on it. Its
really always interesting to me that its against the rules
of the House that is paid for. That makes it out of order.
we ought to see the Obey substitute, and the whole debate, in the
context of where we are as a country. Here we are, the greatest
military that ever was. Our economy, hopefully soon up and running,
is the greatest engine for economic growth in the world. The power
of our ideas have been a source of strength to us and to others
in the world forever. So were strong in every way. And yet,
never, ever have we been more dependent on other countries for the
security of our people.
are going to succeed in Iraq, we must reach out to others. President
Kennedy said it best in his inaugural address. Some of us were in
school at the time and heard the inaugural address. Everybody knows,
'My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you --
ask what you can do for your country.' Children learn that; others
of us actually were there to hear it.
next line in that speech is, 'My fellow citizens of the world: ask
not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for
the freedom of mankind.' Let that be our clarion call. What we,
working together for the people of the world, can do for the freedom
of mankind. So that we dont find ourselves in a situation
where there is a tyrant -- and good riddance to him -- but where
we have to go in with inadequate intelligence, inadequate international
support, and have our kids take all of the risks. Lets show
the greatness of our country as well as the strength of our country.
do that by supporting the Obey amendment today. In the absence of
that, let us hope that we could have our policy recognize once again
that the security of our great country has never been more dependent
on others for the safety of our own people.
that, Mr. Chairman, I reiterate my opposition to the $87 billion
bailout of the failed Bush policy and my support of the Obey amendment."