Byrd Calls Bush Assertions On War "Hogwash"
“Mr. President, it has been four years since the President sent our troops into Iraq - - four long years. That is longer than it took to win World War II. More than 3,300 troops have sacrificed their lives in Iraq, and nearly 25,000 have been wounded - - many severely. With passage of this conference agreement, Congress will have appropriated more than $450 billion for the war in Iraq. $450 billion. That compares with the $296 billion which the U.S. spent on World War II.He then slams the White House for their intentional misdirection on the real purpose of the bill and calls Bush's characterizations "nonsense" and "hogwash."
“Yet, in the four years since our troops succeeded in removing Saddam Hussein from power, the President has failed in his mission to bring peace and stability to the people of Iraq. The troops had the courage and the strength to win the war, but the President has not had the wisdom to win the peace. It is time, past time for a new direction in Iraq.
“The agreement that is before us today provides that new direction."
"Rather than admit the need to change course, the President - - and I say this with all due respect - - continues to try to mislead the America public about the war in Iraq. He recently asked Congress to 'put partisanship on hold.' But then he voiced the incredible assertion that the attacks of 9/11 are linked to the war in Iraq.Byrd then hits Republicans on their ongoing spin that the $120 billion measure is filled with too many items that are not directly related to the Iraq war.
"That is not true and the American people know it. He complained that Congress is holding funding for the troops hostage to funding for domestic needs. President Bush claims that Democrats are adding pork barrel spending to a bill intended for the troops. The President has charged that Democrats are 'legislating defeat' in Iraq. President Bush has tried to scare the pants off the public by suggesting that our bill could result in death and destruction in America.
“What utter nonsense. What hogwash."
"The American people do not support an open-ended U.S. military occupation in Iraq. It is time for the truth. It is time for the White House to stop the fear mongering and face the truth. In the Book of John, Chapter 8 Verse 32, are the words 'And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.' The United States Congress is not holding funding for the troops hostage to domestic pork barrel spending.Finally, the West Virginia Senator hammers Bush for minimizing Congress's role in national defense:
“$6.9 billion for rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina is not pork barrel spending. Ask the citizens of New Orleans.
“$1.8 billion for the VA to provide first class health care to our wounded veterans is not pork barrel spending. Ask the troops who are waiting for care. Ask their families.
“$20 million to repair Walter Reed Hospital is not pork barrel spending.
“$650 million for the S-CHIP child health program to deal with the shortfall in fourteen states is not pork barrel spending. Ask the parents with sick children.
“$2.25 billion for securing the country from terrorist attack, including port and border security, transit security, funds to improve screening for explosives at airports, and for screening cargo on passenger aircraft. This is not pork barrel spending. It is homeland security to prevent the death and destruction which President Bush warns about."
“The President claims that this is a partisan bill. The President claims that Congress is trying to micromanage the war, substituting our judgment for the judgment of our generals. The President knows better.Byrd sums it up by putting the onus on Bush to drop his twisted, personal agenda and do what's right for the troops and our country.
“The Constitution says that 'the Congress shall have power to . . . provide for the common Defense.' It is the Congress that is given the sole power to declare war. The Congress is sworn to, 'raise and support Armies.' The Congress has heard the voices of the people and we have responded as we are elected to do."
Said Byrd: “If the President decides to veto the bill, he will be holding funding for the troops hostage to his stubborn insistence on going into Iraq and the resulting disaster caused by his war policies."