Senate Democrats

Reid: President’s New Iraq Funding Request Again Demonstrates His Priorities Are Not Those Of The American People

Reid also reiterates importance of improving flawed temporary surveillance law the President signed in August

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Today the President is asking Congress for more than $40 billion in additional funds for the war in Iraq and for Afghanistan.  That would bring the total he has asked for in emergency funds for this year to nearly $200 billion – that’s $200 billion on top of the $450 billion in emergency funds we have already borrowed for the Iraq war.

“President Bush wants us to rubber stamp another $200 billion in war funds – all borrowed money, none of it paid for – for next year alone.  But when we sent a bipartisan CHIP bill to his desk to provide health insurance for the children of working families, the President called it too expensive.  Let’s remember, every dime of the money for CHIP was paid for.

“It’s no wonder the American people are frustrated.  Democrats continue to fight for America’s priorities while the President continues investing only in his failed war strategy – even as most of his own Pentagon leadership is now on record saying that our ground forces are stretched dangerously thin because of the current Iraq strategy.

“As General Casey told Congress, the Army is ‘out of balance’ and ‘the current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies.’

“The Iraq war is leaving us less secure, unprepared to fight an effective war on terror or respond to the unexpected.  President Bush should not expect the Congress to rubber stamp this latest supplemental request.  In the coming weeks, we will hold it up to the light of day and fight for the change in strategy and redeployment of troops that is long overdue.”

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“We will also continue to stand up for the American people by continuing to revise and improve the FISA bill.  We all agree that it is important to improve the temporary surveillance law the President signed in August by enacting new legislation that provides strong intelligence tools to fight terrorism while protecting the privacy of law-abiding Americans.

“There is no contradiction between security and liberty.  We can fight terrorism without compromising our liberty and the values embedded in our constitution.  Last Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee took a step toward improving the flawed surveillance law that the President signed in August. 

“I appreciate the hard work of Chairman Rockefeller, Vice Chairman Bond, and the members of the committee in seeking to address the complex issues that are at stake.  In the coming days, other Senators will have a chance to examine in great detail the work of the Intelligence Committee. 

“I am sure that other Senators will want to weigh in with ideas for refining and improving the legislation further, so that all Americans can have high confidence in the effectiveness and constitutionality of intelligence tools.  In particular, the Senate Judiciary Committee has shared jurisdiction over the FISA law, and has a right to markup the Intelligence Committee bill.  The Judiciary Committee has an important role in making sure the final protect is constitutional and legally sound.  Unfortunately, the Administration has chosen again to stonewall Congress in providing all the information and documents needed for Congress to properly consider this legislation. 

“The White House Press Secretary even implied on Friday that key documents would be held out to Congressional committees as a prize for anyone willing to commit to a specific legislative path.  This is indefensible and an insult to the Congress as an institution.  I must say in the most emphatic terms: The Administration must turn over all the information needed for the Senate Judiciary Committee and the relevant House Committees to do their business, and the Administration must do so immediately.”