tv [untitled] CSPAN March 10, 2010 4:30pm-5:00pm EST
2009. i'm not worried about the outcome of this debate. my colleague from ohio will be defeated today more decisively than during his presidential campaign. why did the speaker schedule this debate? in the face of record losses and jobs, $1 trillion health care takeover bill and serious corruption charges on some of the most powerful members of this house, the speaker has thrown an irresponsible bone to the far fringe of her party by scheduling this debate on the only unqualified success of the obama administration, his surge to afghanistan. by setting up this pointless debate, she risks undermining the obama administration's honorable combat record in afghanistan. parts of this debate will now be replayed and misquoted by the taliban and indiana air waves
and hill hurt our men and women in the field. there are no republicans or democrats in afghanistan. there are american troops, our troops, who delivered a stunning set of military successes just in the last three months. general mikelson took the stronghold of marja in a single week. this is the heroin heartland that has funded the rerise of the taliban. in a quiet shadow war, our allies captured the taliban's top military commander, the equivalent of our secretary of defense. and when he was interrogated, we then followed up by capturing the governors of several provinces and key military
leaders. if the taliban was a examine, it has lost its c.e.o., vice president and best salesman. at this rate, the guy who is running the mail room will now be attempting to run the taliban soon. we all witnessed 9/11. especially for those of us representing large cities, the lessons that we learned on that day have now come to the core of our public service. it's obvious to say that president obama, secretary of state clinton and secretary of defense gates fiercely oppose this resolution. given our overwhelming bipartisan opposition to the resolution, many of our troops would ask, don't they know that we're winning? what are they doing? congress? and i would ask, given the growing ethical cloud over this house, given record unemployment in the united states, given $1 trillion flawed health care bill, why would the speaker choose to schedule a forum on a
question on one of the biggest successes of our president? and i yield back. . mr.s relehtinen: i yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds to finish his thoughts. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. kirk: we the know this will be defeated but given the opportunities it gives taliban radio, we have to ask, why did the speaker schedule such a lopsided debate on the floor. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california seeks recognition. mr. berman: i'd like to yield myself one minute to deal with the comments of my friend, the previous speaker. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. berman: i would suggest that the decision to schedule this debate did not come out of a desire to make a gesture to the extreme left or any such
particular move. it was rather some sense of femality to the institution of congress. -- of fealty to the institution of congress, the institution vested with war declaring authority, the oversight of how our expenditures are spent and that i don't understand why you and i who both have feelings about the wisdom of pursuing the current strategy of this administration on this issue should be afraid of that debate or wanting to attribute motivations to the willingness to have that debate over than the congressional need to have that debate. mr. kirk: if the gentleman will yield. we probably spend enough time naming post offices in our country in the worst economy.
mr. berman:s that not a discussion of post offices. this is not a discussion of suspension legislation. both parties seem to like naming post offices and introducing other kinds of resolutions. this is a discussion about the decision to send our forces into harm's way. it's worthy of a serious debate. there is nothing wrong with that debate. i don't believe our troops are going to get demoralized by our having that debate. i believe to the contrary we're going to say we're proud to represent a country willing to undertake that event. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. who seeks recognition? mr. kucinich: i want to thank -- the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from ohio is recognized. mr. kucinich: i want to thank mr. berman. we have a difference of opinion about the resolution but we're united in the opinion that this house should debate it and that
every member of this house, whatever their opinion on the resolution, has a right to debate it, and to try to diminish this institution by saying this is not a proper subject for debate, we're about to begin a surge, this is a proper subject for debate. we waited 8 1/2 years to debate this should we wait another 8 1/2 years or should we have it now before question we commit more and more people into combat. i yield five minutes to mr. serrano of new york. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from new york is recognized for five minutes. mr. serrano: it is time for us as a congress to have this long overdue discussion on our involvement in afghanistan. according to the war powers resolution, we have a role to play and it's time we as a
congress exercise our authority. whether you agree or disagree with the escalation in afghanistan we need to debate it, we need to vote on it and we need to make a decision. we must not give up the powers we were given in the constitution. in the wake of 9/11, i did support a military response to the direct threat that afghanistan posed in our nation. i believed then it was the correct response and i believe now it was. in concert with our nato allies. nine years later, i believe congress has the duty to re-evaluate america's involvement in a war that seems to have bogged down with few signs of success. i believe had we not taken our focus off afghanistan in order to invade and occupy iraq, we would not be in the situation we are in today but pressing ahead without regard tour best interest and ignoring our war powers prerogative is the wrong
course. we cannot tolerate the presence of terrorists seeking to harm our nation anywhere in the world. we must ask ourselves if long-term occupations are the correct answer to this threat. we must also be clear in our analysis of our situation in that country. we have a partnership with a government that seems increasingly unstable, corrupt, and almost completely incapable of maintaining control over vast stretches of the country. we seem unable to eradicate the taliban enemy. they scatter before our troops into lawless regions and then once our troops leave, without an effective government in afghanistan, it's hard to see this pattern changing as the local population cannot count on the taliban ever being gone for good. this is a costly war without an end in sight. it's a costly war to our brave soldiers and to their families. it is a -- it is costly because resources desperately needed to feed the hungry to find a way
forward on health reform and to fix our failing schools are being redirected to an effort whose success is questionable. here at home, we have had precious little debate over this war. we have seen our troops' numbers rise to above those in iraq and yet we have no real benchmarks or goals after which we will leave. we continue to spend massive amounts of money to maintain the occupation of both countries and worst of all we ask our brave men and women in uniform to continue to sacrifice their lives and bodies to this war without our nation sacrificing similarly. the least we can do to honor their service is to debate and vote properly on this war. and to ensure that our nation is not sending them into battle without careful thought and reflection. let me conclude by saying that i am from new york city, the place where 9/11 took place, and so i know firsthand the
devastation this caused to my own community. though i supported the effort to confront bin laden and the perpetrators of that act, i cannot now, nine years later, agree toon effort which has moved in a different direction with different goals. mr. kucinich, i commend you for raising this painful subject and allowing our chamber to engage in honest and open debate. our courage is beyond anything that other members can ever think of. our troops and our nation deserve no less and you've given us the chance to debate this and i thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back his time. who seeks recognition? the gentlewoman from florida. ms. ros-lehtinen: i yield 2 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from new jersey, mr. free lig hughesen, the -- mr. frelinghuysen, the member of the subcommittee on water development.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for 2 1/2 minutes. mr. free lig -- mr. frelinghuysen: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend. this is clearly the wrong resolution to offer at precisely the wrong time. can you imagine being a soldier in afghanistan, hearing of this resolution? instead of debating withdrawal from afghanistan, we should be adopting a resolution praising the all-volunteer men and women of our armed forces and their families for their courage and dedicated service and their continuing sacrifice in the name of protecting americans everywhere. our nation's commander in chief, our president, made the decision to act in afghanistan, a decision, a difficult decision that was supported overwhelmingly by congress. by the skill and bravery of our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen, we have eliminated al qaeda's operations in
afghanistan but it's clear we must ensure our efforts to prevent afghanistan from becoming a safe haven once again does not falter, does not weaken, does not waver. i concurred with the administration's decision to support general stanley mcchrystal's counterinsurgency strategy. that was an important step toward stabilizing afghanistan. the president's reinforcement of our marines and soldier the so-called surge, helped achieve that objective and does provide additional security. the reinforcements have worked. their success in afghanistan. our troops deserve support and this resolution deserves to be soundly defeated. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. who seeks recognition? the gentleman from ohio. mr. kucinich: i yield my -- i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields himself such
time as he may consume. mr. kucinich: one of the things that really doesn't often get discussion here on this floor with respect to a war is the specifics about how it affects people back home. because i come from cleveland, i want to share with you some things about my community. cleveland -- cleveland, as some of you may know was the epicenter of subprime mortgage meltdown, predatory lenders descended on neighbors in our community and were able to take people into contracts that eventually led them into foreclosure and losing their homes. now, i don't think that even the most powerful camera would be able to pick up the red dots across our metropolitan area that represents foreclosures. but you get an idea that we
have a desperate need, not only in cleveland but across the country, for help to keep people in their homes. yet more and more our priorities are to spend money, not just on these wars, but to increase the pentagon budget. i would like to point out that just with respect to the amount of money that is being spent allocated by congressional district, this is the national priorities project i'm quoting, that includes the fiscal 2010 budget they point out that taxpayers in the 10th congressional district, that i represent, will pay $591.9 million for total afghanistan war spending, counting the spending since 2001. and they go on to say, here's what that money could have been spent for instead. it could have been used to
provide 209,800 people with health care for one year. or it could have been used to provide 13,404 public safety officers for one year. or 9,063 music and arts teachers for one year. or 68,299 scholarships for university students for one year. or it could have been spent for 106,658 students receiving pell grants, of $5,500. or it could have spent to provide affordable housing units. could have been spent for providing 355,296 children with health care for one year or head start places for children for one year or 9,443
elementary school teachers for one year, or 2,662 homes with electricity for a year. we spent money on war we spent money expanding the budget for military spending, we may say, well we're making things safer at home, but there's evidence to suggest that the shift in allocation in funds and the shift for spending toward wars which are off budget for quite a while have put our country for in a position where we're not able to meet our needs. when you look at, this is from the friends committee on national legislation, they ask, for each dollar of federal income tax paid in 2009, the government spent about 33 cents for pentagon spending for current and past wars, 27 cents supporting the economy, which is the recovery and think the bailouts, 17 cents for health
care, 11 cents responding to poverty, 9 cents for general government, of that, seven cents for interest on the public debt. 2 cents for energy, science, and environment, and a penny of the federal dollar for diplomacy, development, and war prevention. . when we remain silent on defense spending, this just caries this into the reshaped priorities whether we realize it or not. i brought this resolution so we could talk about this. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from florida. ms. ros-lehtinen: thank you, madam speaker. i yield three minutes to the the gentleman from georgia, mr. rings ton, -- kingston.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. kingston: i rise in opposition to this resolution, but i do appreciate mr. kucinich bringing it up and i think it's proper to debate this. i'm a member of the appropriations committee and many years ago in committee, we voted to support the scags amendment to an appropriation rule that would have put the war powers in effect, during the clinton administration, but i don't remember what the squirmish is. it is appropriate for us to debate, however, i think the timing not exactly optimal particularly with troops in the field. it does appear to me that if the democrat leadership was serious about this, they would have allowed hearings in the committee and have a committee vote rather than put it on the house floor, but i'm glad you brought it up.
and i also want to point out to you as someone who voted no on the litany i'm about to give on spending, that if we're look for money, perhaps in may of 2008, we shouldn't have passed a stimulus program. a $200 billion of fannie mae. in august of 2008, $85 billion by the federal reserve for a.i.g., which is up to $140 billion and november of 2008, tarp bailout and january of 2009 for a stimulus program, which was designed to keep us from getting to 8% unemployment and we are now pushing 10%. and that was followed by $410 billion omnibus spending bill and in december of 2009, $165 billion jobs program. and so we're spending a lot of money. and there's a lot of it out there. if we're looking for money, what
we need to do is get out from the bailout business from general motors to the banks and we could find money on a bipartisan basis. i know the gentleman is one of the strongest critics of corporate welfare. i won't say it started with president obama. i do want to say this about the troops in the field and i do respect your support of troops. i just got back from afghanistan. i was there saturday and i was in pakistan on sunday meeting with general mcchrystal and our leadership on the ground over there. we do have a new strategy, it's shape, clear, hold, build and transfer. and in a first muscle movement under this, we went to marja and hellman province and had a military victory. rather than leave it there, we are now working on a successful civilian transfer to make sure that the afghanies are ready to take on this new conquered territory.
karzai was briefed from the binge on the battle of marja. they fought shoulder to shoulder with the coalition forces. the governor of the hellman province was briefed. the new police forces are cracking down on the corruption in the afghan police force because that is one of the problems. thirdly -- could i have 30 more seconds? ms. ros-lehtinen: yield 30 additional seconds. the speaker pro tempore: jarkt for 30 seconds. mr. kingston: we have an engaged pakistan, 147,000 troops have closed off the safe havens that the taliban has been running to. things are happening. and i believe -- while i support the gentleman's concept of making sure that the war powers act is followed, i think the timing is poor, so i will not support it at this time because of the progress on the ground, because on of the troops on the ground.
but i want to congratulate the gentleman in his strong conviction of this. and i do think it is something that we in congress need to look at, we need to look at it carefully. and i hope the committee will have hearings on this and have regular order and an opportunity for the minority party to offer an amendment or a motion to recommit that i think would be very beneficial for us to have this national debate. thank you very much. mr. kucinich: i yield myself -- the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from ohio is recognized. mr. kucinich: i want to thank mr. kingston for the manner in which he has approached this debate and also to suggest that while this is a very emotional matter, it is possible for us to talk in terms that are clear and logical. and i say to my friend, i think i probably joined you in voting
against the wall street bailouts. that was the fiscal conservative in me. i want to recognize the gentlelady from maryland for three minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman from maryland is recognized for three minutes. pledspleds i thank the gentleman from ohio for bringing this resolution. -- ms. edwards: i thank the gentleman from ohio. while it may seem untimely, there is never enough time to have the debate about war and peace, that this congress should be engaged in and not just the actions of any president. i want to also join with my colleagues in expressing my support for the men and women who serve this nation. and as a daughter of one who served through korea and vietnam and subsequently, you couldn't find a stronger supporter of our servicemen and women.
so i would hope on both sides of the aisle that we don't confuse our debate about policy or resolution with support for our men and women in uniform, because it would be unfortunate for them and it would be disrespectful of us. i believe that this congress has the obligation to send a strong message to the white house that the war must come to an end. as others have pointed out, we began this war effort to fight al qaeda following the tragedy of september, 2001. but as national security adviser jim jones has told us, there are only 100 al qaeda left in afghanistan. who are we fighting? now we are fighting the taliban and that shows you over the course of time, this war, its mission and goals have morphed to the point we find ourselves in now. i have no doubt that the forces
will be victorious on the field of battle and i'm humbled by their service but bringing stability to afghanistan can only happen by having a truly -- building a truly functional society, something that afghanistan has not had the privilege to enjoy. and this won't come by military force. the question remains as to the future capacity of the military and government to do what is required of them to rebuild their country and we have little evidence that this outcome is likely given the levels of corruption in the karzai government that continue as well as the intertribal violence that also changes over time. there was a "time" magazine article on the fighting in marja and the limited success that nato forces are having. but as what pointed out there,
the take and hold and build strategy only happens if you really can transfer. and it's the transfer i'm concerned about. it's the transfer that actually endanger our troops to the point where they may transfer at one point and then have to go back and start the fight over again because that's the nature of the battle in afghanistan. even more troubling is that afghanistan shouldn't be our top national security priority -- may i have an additional one minute? mr. kucinich: i yield the gentlelady an additional minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. edwards: our military risk their lives and we are in a country that so little hope of future success and international terrorism flourishes. estimates are that this kind of terrorism actually flourishes in 70 countries and we are so heavily invested in afghanistan that it leaves us little time, opportunity or resources to fight the battle where that
needs to happen. by focusing on afghanistan, we are operating under the inaccurate bush-era policy that the fight we face is organized, centralized and advanced. and violent funnelism operates with little organization. it's part of the reason that it can be so successful. this war is a squant reminder that our response to the quickly evolving threat of international terrorism is static and we must end this war to look for ways to disrupt violent plots to protect our citizens, national security, safety and security and to build nations in a way that they respect processes and people. and with that, i yield. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlewoman's time has expired. the gentleman from california. mr. berman: first, i would like to yield at the end of the
ranking member's time an additional five minutes from our time on the assumption that two of those five minutes will be given to someone from california. the speaker pro tempore: i believe i understood that, mr. berman. mr. berman: i would like to yield three minutes to the the gentleman from ohio, mr. bo cherry, one of only two members of this body who have actually deployed in our uniformed services in afghanistan. the speaker pro tempore: wonderful. the gentleman is recognized. mr. boccieri: as chairman berman had said, i was one of just a very handful of members that served in afghanistan and i remember serving on the ground there as i was deployed as a tactics officer. as a c-130 pilot they sent forward-deployed troops to make sure the troops got the right
supplies and the missions we were doing safe and our crews would come home soon. i remember that day walking to the cao hall and had my nine-millimeter strapped to my side and there were soldiers gathered along the streets on other side and i peeked my head around and a humvee drove by with a flag on it and everyone was standing at perfect attention and i was asking somebody what that was and they said that was one of the soldiers who recently had been killed in action and he's on his journey back to the united states. and i began to think about that soldier. who were they, what branch of service were they in, how did they meet their fate? did they know after c-130 pilots would fly in and unload them cargo and troops that they knew they were going to fly home that way. way. and i remember that anonymous