"Mr. Chairman, today, the thoughts and prayers of all Americans are with our courageous military forces in Iraq and their brave families at home, especially those families who have lost a loved one or who await the return of the missing and our prisoners of war.
"As Members of Congress, charged in the Preamble to the Constitution with providing for the common defense, we have pledged to give our armed forces the support they need in these difficult and dangerous days - both to win this war and to win the peace.
"This supplemental abides by that commitment. Sadly, this supplemental does not fulfill Americas commitment to our men and women in uniform at home - our local firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel who serve on the frontlines against the greatest threat facing our nation - the clear and present danger of terrorism.
"Time and time again, the President and the Republican majority in Congress
have said that defending the homeland is, and I quote, our single most
important priority, our most important challenge, and our
"But time and time again, the rhetoric has failed to match the reality of their proposals.
"The reality is that Republicans have failed to spend $2.5 billion in desperately needed homeland security funds appropriated by Congress last year.
"The Republicans have said repeatedly that we will pay whatever it takes to defend the homeland.
"But the reality is that governors and mayors from across the country are pleading with the Administration and the Republicans in Congress to give firefighters, police and healthcare workers the funding, training and equipment they need to protect our communities and to respond to a terrorist attack.
"And the President said that, Im going to commit [the] resources . . . necessary to defend our freedom.
"But the reality is that this supplemental is an admission that the President and the Republicans have not been committing the resources necessary to fully defend our homeland.
"Perhaps nowhere is this credibility gap on homeland security greater than when it comes to protecting our vulnerable ports.
"Speaking to the Coast Guard at the Port of Philadelphia this week, the President said that, protecting our nation's ports is essential to our economic security and to our national security.
"But the reality is that the President vetoed $39 million to inspect the millions of container ships that dock in U.S. ports every year. The reality is that the Administration and the Republicans have no funding for this program in the fiscal 2004 budget, or in this supplemental.
"With our nation at the second-highest level of terrorist alert, the Republicans are short-changing homeland security.
"The American people deserve better.
"We must do everything we can-every day-to protect the homes that people live in, the places where they work, the bridges and roads they use to get there, and the communities where they live.
"I commend my colleague, Congressman Dave Obey, Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, for his outstanding leadership on this issue, and for his efforts to give our states and communities the resources they need to protect themselves.
"America needs to know that the Democrats voted this week to boost homeland security by $2.5 billion, including an additional $1.2 billion for our underfunded firefighters, police and medical personnel. Mr. Obeys amendment, had it been allowed to be brought to the floor, would have gone even further than that.
"America needs to know that Republicans voted no. The President and Republicans owe the American people an explanation:
"Why are you shortchanging our men and women on the frontlines in our homeland who protect our communities while you are giving massive tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest in our country, those who need it least?
"This would be unwise at any time. In this time of war with our nation on high alert, it is downright reckless.
"Democrats support this supplemental because it funds our men and women in uniform in Iraq, as well as other critical needs. At the same time, it does not do enough for our men and women in uniform domestically who are trying to keep our communities safe.
"Democrats will continue fighting to give them the funding, the training, and the equipment they need to protect America.
"We owe these men and women - and the Americans they protect - nothing less.
"Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman."
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