Congressman Adam Smith voted against legislation today to provide $94.5 billion in emergency supplemental funds for Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gulf Coast rebuilding.

“I fully support our troops and I believe we must assist the hurricane victims on the Gulf Coast, but Congress cannot keep rubber-stamping these spending bills while the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress utterly fail in their oversight of the spending,” said Smith. 

Smith has been vigilant on the issue of Iraq contracting accountability and has cosponsored legislation to establish a bipartisan congressional committee to investigate war contracting modeled after the successful WWII Truman Committee.

“I am also disappointed that Congressional leaders continue to fund our operations in Iraq through off-budget ‘emergency’ spending packages with little-to-no oversight.  This is extremely dishonest and fiscally irresponsible.  After more than three years and over $300 billion spent on the Iraq war, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be fully budgeting for and scrutinizing this funding.”

Smith was further dismayed with the fact that the Bush Administration and Congressional leaders are seeking to prematurely end the mission of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and prohibit him from overseeing future Iraq reconstruction money, including the funds in the bill Smith opposed today.  The legislation provides $1.6 billion in new funding for Iraq reconstruction, but does so through accounts over which the SIGIR has no oversight authority. 

“The Special Inspector General has been the only reasonably effective way to investigate and expose any waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq contracting.  I could not sit silent while this bill effectively cuts off the IG’s oversight of new funds,” said Smith. 

Oversight is also critically important for the spending related to Hurricane Katrina relief.  While there is clear need to provide assistance to the affected region, Smith has been troubled by cases of fraud, theft, and the mismanagement of many contracts.  The supplemental bill does not go far enough to ensure that such mismanagement and inefficiency has been adequately addressed. 

 “I stand with our troops who are serving so bravely overseas, fighting to protect our nation.  And I am committed to advocating on behalf of Katrina-related recovery.  We need to address these priorities in a responsible manner.  Unfortunately, Congress has failed to conduct rigorous oversight, leading to too much wasteful and inefficient spending.  Such wasteful spending will only make it more difficult to fund our nation’s future needs.  As a result, I believe the responsible vote today was ‘no’.”