House Floor Remarks Regarding H.R. 3289, the Supplemental Appropriations Bill Requesting an Additional $87 Billion for Iraq

October 17, 2003

"Mr. Speaker,"

"I rise today in opposition to H.R. 3289, President Bush's $87 billion funding request for Iraq. This supplemental appropriations bill is not about showing support for our troops. We are all united behind their courageous efforts. This is about where the United States goes from here."

"I think most Americans realized that our commitment overseas would be lengthy and it would be costly. However, the Administration has been unwilling or unable to state its plans for the creation of stable representative governments, able to police and defend themselves, in Iraq or in Afghanistan. We have absolutely no idea how long troops will be stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan and we have no idea how much money will be required to complete this mission. When pressed by the committee for answers on these points, the Administration declined to give any answers. That is not good enough. It is time for the President to provide us all with answers to those questions."

"I understand that the President cannot set out a precise timetable for troop withdrawal and he may not be able to provide a guaranteed final budget figure. I am not expecting that level of detail. However, I do expect, and this great country deserves, basic information about the future of this mission. That information is not forthcoming, and yet we are being asked to provide an additional $87 billion for an effort that has already cost billions of dollars and hundreds of American lives - without an end in sight to costing more of both."

"I opposed the initial decision to invade Iraq because I did not believe that we had given the international inspectors sufficient time to confirm the President's allegations. Furthermore, I do not agree that the United States can or should impose democracy by force. I believe that my vote was correct at the time and every passing day confirms my conviction that I judged rightly. I did not approve of the initial invasion, and until I hear a responsible and realistic plan for dealing with the consequences of the invasion, I cannot in good conscience vote to approve funding."

"I fear that we are lacking more than an exit strategy. We need a foreign policy. This Administration has failed to meet the challenges of the post Cold War, post 9/11 world. Today, I insist on a plan for Iraq. Further, I would respectfully ask for clarification on our plans relative to other countries - notably North Korea, Iran and Syria. I understand that these countries differ from Iraq, and from each other, in their domestic politics and geopolitical importance. Nonetheless, the President has singled out these countries as he did Iraq. How does he plan on addressing his stated concerns relative to each of these? Does he plan another military campaign? Will he rely on diplomacy? Will he engage the international community?"

"Finally, I would certainly approve the replacement of armaments used in Iraq - we need a well-equipped military. I would approve funds to rebuild Iraq - we have an obligation to leave that country on its feet when we depart and the world expects no less. I would approve funding to increase the size of our military so that Congress would not have to resort to the use of private security to protect our military bases as this proposal allows. If necessary, I would approve funds to provide basic necessities for our troops - such as Kevlar, adequately armored vehicles, necessary communications equipment and comfortable living accommodations. However, I believe that these latter items should have been funded in the annual Defense appropriation; they are foreseeable and should have been available prior to engagement."

"I have supported similar appropriations requests in the past, for Iraq and for Afghanistan. I would support similar funding if it were accompanied by a plausible plan for the phased withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. However, absent such information, I cannot, and will not, support this request for funding at this time."


Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208