Mr. Speaker, yesterday I voted against passage of H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan and Tsunami Assistance bill. In March 2003, before the war began, I wrote to the President with 22 of our colleagues to ask him to specifically define our objectives and to provide an exit strategy. We asked the President a number of questions including: "Under what circumstances will our military occupation of (and financial commitment to) Iraq end? And how will we know when these circumstances are present." We and the American people never received an answer to these crucial questions. Even today, the Administration is unwilling or unable to answer. This is simply unacceptable.
Time and again, the President has requested money to fund the war in Iraq while refusing to answer our questions about this war and provide a comprehensive strategy for bringing our troops home. In our democracy, the Congress controls the purse strings. Before allocating additional funds, we must insist that the administration articulate the conditions necessary to bring our troops home, and push them to do that as soon as possible. The administration's refusal to address that is quite astounding to me and should be of great concern to all Americans who believe in principles of accountability and checks and balances.
In addition to my concerns about a lack of overall strategy and benchmarks for success in Iraq, I am very disappointed with the administration's handling of Iraq spending, in both process and substance. Emergency supplemental spending should be reserved for true emergencies, those instances in which the need for expenditures is unforeseen or unforeseeable. The vast majority of funds in this supplemental fail to meet that criterion. Both last year and this year, the Administration excluded Iraq costs from their budget requests, although most of the costs could be estimated. Shortfalls or additional needs then could have been funded through a supplemental. That is the proper way to manage taxpayer funds.
I want to make it clear that I believe that our men and women in the armed forces serving in Iraq are doing their jobs with great honor. They have my unequivocal support and respect. My vote against this spending bill should not be characterized as a rejection of them or the resources they need to carry out their duties. If this bill had been defeated yesterday, funds would have continued to flow to Iraq tomorrow and over the next few months. Voting down this bill would have allowed ample time for the President to respond to our concerns and resubmit his funding request.
Speech taken from http://tammybaldwin.house.gov/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1309funding request.