Stupak: Why billions for Iraq while needs at home go unfunded?
WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, was one of a dozen Democratic members of Congress
who attended a Sept. 25 meeting called by the White House to seek support for the President's request for some $87 billion in new funding for military and reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The group met with President Bush's National Security Adviser, Condoleeza Rice, and the administration's Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Josh
"I appreciated the chance to meet with Dr. Rice and Josh Bolten," Stupak said,
"but they didn't do a very good job of explaining why billions of dollars in American tax money should be sent overseas for projects that the administration says it cannot fund here at home."
Stupak asked Dr. Rice directly how the administration can justify some of the non-military items for Iraq, when serious and very similar needs remain unmet at home.
"For example, I told her that I was very disappointed with FEMA's second denial yesterday of any assistance for the $100 million plus in damages incurred by four Upper Michigan counties from floods last May," the Congressman pointed out.
"Contrast that with $856 million contained in the President's request to upgrade airports, a shipping port, rail lines and phone service in Iraq. Or with the $470 million to build houses, repair government buildings and rebuild roads and bridges. Or with the $3.7 billion to improve drinking water and sanitation services."
Stupak noted he thought most of the Congressmen who attended the meeting would be united in support for the $62 billion dollars worth of military funding in the
request, but not for the non-military aid.
"It is the other $25 billion we have big questions about," Stupak
said. " We were told this morning (Thursday, Sept. 25) that the President will not separate the two portions of the supplemental appropriations request so that we can get fast action on the portion that is needed for our troops and for military action."
Stupak said he found it hard to tell his constituents that the federal government cannot provide desperately needed help for them to get back on their feet after a natural disaster or to help rebuild aging infrastructure
while it is proposing to send enormous sums in aid to Iraq.
"It also is significant that none of the proposed spending for Iraq or Afghanistan will be paid back from future oil revenues, or reimbursed by other members of the world
community," Stupak said. "In fact, when I asked that question, I was told that the total expenditures could reach $50 billion dollars for infrastructure and support when other countries' efforts were added in."
The $25 billion dollars also includes $878 million for health care in Iraq and Afghanistan, earlier described by Administration documents as the provision of universal health care for the Iraqi people. Stupak has been vocal in his opposition to spending this kind of money on health care in Iraq when we have not yet provided reasonably priced prescription drugs or adequate health insurance for huge segments of our population in this country.
"The President's request also calls for $875 million to rehabilitate irrigation systems and restore marshlands in Iraq when domestic wetland conservation programs have been held to just over $100 million," Stupak said.
He noted the supplemental funding request includes $5.7 billion for creating a new electric generation and transmission system in Iraq.
"If I remember right," Stupak said, "we have some serious concerns about the capacity of our own electrical transmission systems in the Midwest and elsewhere, as shown so clearly during the August blackout. Those people still without power from Hurricane Isabel might also legitimately expect that we fix our own systems
first," he added.
"The money proposed for Iraq and Afghanistan also has no requirement for a local contribution, unlike virtually every domestic federal grant or assistance program for infrastructure or support to American communities," Stupak
"While I absolutely support providing enough money for military resources, this morning's meeting at the White House did nothing to convince me that much of the civilian support in the President's request would not be better spent here at home," he
For Rep. Stupak's views on current issues, visit his
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Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of
For more legislative information visit the Library of Congress Thomas Web
Citizens may contact Stupak's Washington office at (202) 225-4735 or email him at
email@example.com. His Congressional Aide Amy Wisti may be reached in Houghton from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at (906) 482-1371.
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