September 24, 2008
Washington DC— Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35), Chairwoman and co-founder of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus, issued the following remarks in advance of House consideration of the Defense Authorization for FY 2009, which authorizes nearly $70 billion in emergency war funding:
The Defense Authorization for FY 2009 to be voted on today under suspension of the rules is unacceptable. This package will give President Bush an additional $70 billion to continue the war in Iraq as he sees fit. We cannot give another blank check for the President’s war that the taxpayers just can’t cash.
The timing for this additional funding could not be worse. American taxpayers are facing a $700 billion bailout package to stem the crisis in the financial markets which has threatened to wipe out their savings, their homes and their jobs. In May, Congress granted President Bush’s request for $170 billion in war funding that was supposed to last well into next year. And last month, the Government Accountability Office reported that Iraq will generate an estimated $86 billion revenue surplus this year, primarily driven by the high price of oil being paid by Americans and others.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that language constraining the conduct of the war has been stripped from the House and Senate passed versions of the legislation. The measure does not include a ban on private interrogators in U.S. military detention facilities, does not include a freeze on the hiring of private contractors, and does not include congressional veto power over the planned security pact with Iraq.
It is an ominous coincidence that the price tag of the war in Iraq is nearly the same as the $700 billion price tag of the bailout package for the U.S. financial industry. I cannot in good conscience support additional funding for the Iraq War without a significant change in policy. The political reconciliation between Iraq’s competing factions promised to us by the Bush Administration has yet to materialize with an enormous American military presence occupying Iraq. The only acceptable solution remains fully funding the safe and swift redeployment of our troops from Iraq.