U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement regarding the fiscal year 2008 supplemental appropriations bill, which the U.S. House of Representatives approved last night through votes on two amendments. Smith voted "no" on both. The first amendment provided more than $160 billion in funds for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and lacked adequate restraints on President Bush's Iraq policy. The second amendment provided funding for other needs such as disaster assistance, foreign aid, expanded veterans benefits and extended unemployment benefits. Neither amendment offset the costs of these policies, simply adding to the debt instead.
"The President's Iraq policies have to change. We absolutely must confront the rising tide of violence in Afghanistan. This past week saw a dramatic Taliban attack on a prison that freed roughly ‘750 criminals and 400 Taliban inmates.' We also saw Taliban fighters sweep in and briefly capture ten villages, some of which we have since recaptured. Al-Qaida continues to threaten our nation from this region as well. Our commanders tell me we are two combat brigades short of what we need to confront this continuing violence, but we cannot supply them because we have around 150,000 troops in Iraq. Even in light of the severe challenges in Afghanistan, President Bush insists on a no-end-in-sight occupation of Iraq that continues our massive presence there indefinitely. The funding measure before the House lacked any real constraints on the President's shortsighted, obsessive focus on Iraq, so I could not support it. I also believe we should come up with some way of offsetting the costs of the President's policy instead of simply adding to our debt.
"I was pleased to see the inclusion of expanded unemployment insurance and educational benefits for our veterans and their families. I strongly support the expansion of the GI bill for veterans, in particular, and have voted in favor of similar legislation in the past. However, the previous version paid for the multi-billion-dollar cost by asking for shared sacrifice in the form of a tax surcharge on the richest Americans. That kind of fiscal responsibility is totally absent from this legislation. As passed, the two pieces of the supplemental will add more than $200 billion to our debt in the next ten years.
"We have two ongoing wars and a huge fiscal challenge facing our country, including a $9 trillion debt and massive annual deficits. I do not support cutting off funds for our troops while in combat, and I support responsible measures to shore up American workers and to expand GI benefits. This legislation, however, lacks real restraints on a dangerously misguided Iraq policy while digging our nation deeper into debt. We have months before the Defense Department would begin to run out of funds, and we will not solve problems for our workers and veterans by driving up our nation's red ink. Congress has time to craft a responsible solution for these problems, but this legislation isn't it."