Dems pass misguided proposal
Published 11:48 am Monday, March 26, 2007
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $124.3 billion spending package, H.R. 1591, the Iraq War Supplemental, by a vote of 218 - 212.
Our nation is engaged in a war, and the Iraq war spending bill is the vehicle to provide critical funding to our troops.
Unfortunately, the war supplemental that Democrats brought to the House floor last week ties the hands of our commander in chief as well as the commanders on the ground and includes billions of dollars in additional funding that has no relationship to the war effort - or our troops - whatsoever.
While some of this money may be for worthy causes, including some that would directly benefit my constituents in Alabama, I could not, with a clear conscience, vote for what I know is a Trojan horse.
The bill contains more than $20 billion in additional spending not related to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, including $25 million for spinach growers who suffered losses as a result of last year's E.coli breakout, $74 million to extend the Peanut Storage Costs Program, $15 million to protect Louisiana rice fields from saltwater, and $500 million for wildfire suppression.
Additionally, this spending bill undercuts the ability of our troops to accomplish their mission by tying needed funding to arbitrary deadlines - not successful completion of their mission.
The legislation also includes a timeline that could lead to the redeployment of U.S. troops as early as this summer and no later than next.
It sets Aug. 31, 2008, as the ultimate deadline for removing troops from combat in Iraq and requires the president to certify by July of this year that Iraqis are meeting key political benchmarks.
Through this legislation, the United States is telling the world that no matter the outcome, our troops will be out of Iraq by next summer. This message - setting a deadline - only emboldens our enemy to the stay the course for the next 17 months and victory will be theirs.
As you may know, earlier this year, the House spent 36 hours debating a non-binding resolution on the war - that's 36 hours, in which all members on both sides of the aisle were provided an opportunity to speak on a resolution that had no force of law behind it.
Contrast that debate with the one held last week on the war spending bill. The vehicle to provide critical funding to our troops was allowed a total of four hours of debate. The Democratic leadership allowed a total of four hours of debate on how to spend $124.3 billion of taxpayer money.
The president has announced he will veto this legislation if it makes it to his desk in its current form. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also warned that the Army will soon face serious problems without these emergency funds.
Rather than giving our soldiers the resources the generals in charge of this mission say they need to have every chance for success, 216 House Democrats along with two Republicans have, instead, handed our brave men and women in uniform a white flag. I am truly saddened by this vote.
Jo Bonner represents the Brewton area in the U.S. House of Representatives.