Once again, the Congress is debating supplemental funding for President Bush's disastrous misadventure in Iraq. Earlier this year, Congress set a new course for the war in Iraq. It offered a way forward for the Iraqi people and a way home for the U.S. troops while providing for some of
the most pressing needs of the nation. But sadly, the president chose to veto that bill.
This president has a single-minded obsession with Iraq and continues to close his eyes and cover his ears to the realities of this occupation. He is unfazed by the U.S. death toll in Iraq which is more than 3,380 men and women, and the death toll of innocent Iraqis which probably numbers in the tens of thousands. The president has freely spent over $378 billion of our treasury in Iraq, some of it subject to horrendous
waste and abuse by U.S. contractors in Iraq. The American taxpayer has
been ravaged by the profiteering in Iraq, but even worse, our brave
troops have been short-changed with inadequate equipment to protect
their lives, and shoddy medical care if they make it back home to treat
wounds of the body and of the mind.
Seeing no value in anything except continuing his quixotic "mission
impossible," the president has already threatened to veto House funding
legislation. He claims that it "could unreasonably burden the
president's exercise of his constitutional authorities, including his
authority as commander in chief ..." because it sets a date for
withdrawal and provides funding for the occupation only until late July.
The president also objects to funding in the bill which would help to
rebuild the Gulf Coast States, to improve health care for our troops and
our veterans, compensate for the shortfall in the States' Children's
Health Insurance Program, fund low-income heating assistance, and
increase funding for homeland security.
President Bush raises constitutional concerns in his latest veto threat.
I suppose one could be encouraged that constitutional concerns even
exist in the Bush kingdom. After setting aside the Constitution whenever
convenient to justify pre-emptive attacks, illegal searches, secret
wiretapping, clandestine military tribunals, treaty violations,
kidnapping, torture, and a rejection of habeas corpus, one has to wonder
about the nature of these purported "constitutional concerns." If the
Constitution is finally to be read, let us read it in its entirety,
including the articles which give the people's Representatives the power
over the purse, and the power to declare war.
We need to conclude this terrible mistake we have made in Iraq.
Anti-Americanism is more robust now than in any period in our history
because of Iraq. The international community is skeptical of U.S.
intentions because of Iraq. Our Constitution has been trampled because
of Iraq. Thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi citizens have lost their
lives because of Iraq. Thousands more are maimed physically or mentally
because of Iraq. Billions of U.S. dollars have been wasted because of
Iraq. President Bush has lost all credibility because of Iraq. Terrorism
is on the rise worldwide because of Iraq.
Congress will go to conference for a second time next week to work on
legislation that will provide critical funding for the U.S. military.
The White House has been engaged in the effort to find common ground on
new legislation. We must work together to craft a plan that provides
equipment and training to keep our troops safe and also spurs the Iraqi
people to make a stand for the future of their own nation. I hope that
we can reach a bipartisan solution on this supplemental legislation that
meets the expectations and needs of the American people and sets a new
direction for Iraq.