NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
THE AMERICAN LEGION
1608 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006-2847
(202) 263-2981 fax (202) 861-2785
Subject: Resolution 169 – Global War on Terror
Yesterday was a very busy day on Capitol Hill with regard to Resolution 169.
The House Appropriations Committee approved a roughly $124 billion draft supplemental spending bill Thursday, following a series of passionate debates on amendments addressing the Iraq War. The panel voted 36-28 to approve the measure, largely along party lines.
The American Legion continues to express strong opposition to specific provisions in the bill sets in motion a withdrawal of military service members from Iraq and establishes steadfast requirements for unit readiness and lengths of deployments.
Representative Jerry Lewis (CA), the former Committee Chairman, offered an amendment that would strike these provisions from the bill, oppose cuts or restrictions in war funding and express support for U.S. military personnel. However, Representative John Murtha (PA), the Defense Subcommittee chairman, quickly offered an amendment to Representative Lewis’ amendment that restored the original provisions, but kept Representative Lewis’ wording to support the troops.
Representative Lewis countered with another amendment to a reiteration of his earlier proposal. The Committee quickly rejected that language (27-37), then adopted Representative Murtha’s amendment (37-27) and approved the amended version of Representative Lewis’ initial provision, as amended by voice vote.
In an attempt to put the Members on record for a quick exit of U.S. forces from Iraq, the Defense Subcommittee’s ranking member, Representative C.W. Bill Young (FL) offered an amendment that mirrored a proposal by his colleague Representative Barbara Lee (CA) that would have only allowed federal money to be spent withdrawing those forces. The Committee unanimously rejected it, 0-64, with even Representative Lee voting against her previous proposal.
In making his arguments, Representative Lewis explained that this spending bill clearly “ties the hands of our commander-in-chief during a time of war; places military decisions in the hands of politicians; and attempts to buy votes for its passage - on the left and on the right - by literally promising something to everyone.” However, Representative Murtha responded, “I say it’s a civil war, and the Iraqis have to take it up themselves.”
Among the many other provisions was one concerning removing Walter Reed Army Medical Center from the Base Realignment and Closure list. The Committee adopted that provision by voice vote. Both Representatives Ray LaHood (IL) and Young had sought the provision. Representative LaHood stated, “I think this was a dumb decision to begin with. We’re at war. Many of the decisions made by [the base realignment and closure commission] were dumb, but this was the dumbest.”
The bill also includes funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and for the Defense Health Program be directed to strengthening recruitment and formalized training for administrative and casework personnel and that they go to military medical centers with large patient backlogs. There is also funding for other issues like agriculture disaster relief, homeland security and pandemic flu preparations. The bill also includes $1.7 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In the Senate, a binding resolution (S.J. Res. 9), sponsored by Senator Reid (NV), was defeated by a vote of 48-50. Senator Gordon Smith (OR) was the only Republican senator to cross party lines on the vote on S.J. Res. 9. Both Democratic Senators Mark Pryor (AK) and Ben Nelson (NE) voted against the measure. Under terms of the debate, 60 votes were required for adoption. This resolution called for the redeployment of U.S. military personnel that would have begun scaling back the Iraq mission within four months of its adoption and eventual withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel from Iraq. S.J. Res. 9 would also set a goal - but not a requirement - that combat troops be pulled out by March 31, 2008.
Senate Mitch McConnell (KY) made the point that, “Giving (advanced) notice to the other side is a guarantee of defeat in Iraq and a guarantee that we’ll have these problems back in the homeland. It is exactly the wrong way to go.”
The Senate then moved to adopt two non-binding resolutions to demonstrate support for the troops by overwhelming margins:
· Senator Patty Murray (WA) introduced a bill to express support for funding troops in the field and for medical care after they return from combat. It passed 96-2.
· Senator Judd Gregg (NH) offered a non-binding measure (S. Con. Res. 20) that stated the Senate’s commitment to not taking away funding for troops. It was adopted, 82-16.
The Senate will soon take up its version of the FY 2007 Defense emergency supplemental appropriations bill. It is anticipated it will contain redeployment and withdrawal language.
Please share the official views of The American Legion with your Members of Congress. A copy of the Resolution 169 booklet is available on The American Legion website: http://www.legion.org/pdf/res169booklet.pdf.