News Releases

Murray to Vote for Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill that Provides Funding for Troops in Harm's Way, Veterans, Farmers, Katrina Relief, and Port Security

May 24 2007

Bill provides the funding that troops currently on the ground in Iraq need, while imposing accountability as first step toward redeploying troops

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will vote to provide funding for the resources and equipment needed to protect American troops currently in Iraq and for critical domestic funding for veterans, farmers, Hurricane Katrina relief, and port security. The funding is included in the Fiscal Year 2007 Emergency Supplemental Appropriation's bill.



In 2002, Senator Murray voted against authorizing the Iraq War. Since then, she has repeatedly voted to redeploy American troops from Iraq. Last week she was one of 29 Senate Democrats to vote to redeploy American troops within 120 days as part of an amendment sponsored by Senator Russell Feingold (D - WI).



However, Murray has always said that she will support America's service members when they answer the call of duty. In her October 2002 speech opposing military action in Iraq, Murray concluded her remarks by saying: "Despite my reservations today, I will always stand with and support those who serve our country wherever and whenever their commander in chief sends them."

**A BREAKDOWN OF IMPORTANT FUNDING INCLUDED IN THE SUPPLEMENTAL BILL IS LISTED BELOW



During Senate consideration of the bill today, Senator Murray delivered a speech on the Senate floor that outlined her reasons for supporting the legislation. The text of that speech follows.

Remarks of Senator Patty Murray - May, 24th, 2007




Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Supplemental Appropriations bill we will consider here today.



Let me be clear, I strongly disagree with the President on our course in Iraq. As one of only 23 members of the U.S. Senate to vote against going to war in Iraq, I am committed to changing the course, redeploying our troops and refocusing our efforts on fighting the global war on terror.



I have voted time and again for resolutions and amendments to change direction. I believe the President is wrong to continue on with an open-ended commitment to an Iraqi government that has repeatedly failed to meet deadlines and take responsibility for their own country.



I believe the President is wrong to continue to ignore the warnings of generals, experts and the will of the American people. But I also believe the President is wrong, when in his stubborn refusal to change, he also withholds money for the troops that he has sent into harms way.



The President did just that on May 1st, when he vetoed a Congressionally-approved supplemental that provided $4 billion more than the President-himself had requested for our troops. When the President vetoed that bill, he was the one who denied our troops the resources, equipment and funding they need to do their jobs safely. The President was wrong, but the President still hasn't changed his mind.



He - and a majority of Republicans in Congress - are blocking funding for our troops. As we head into Memorial Day, I will vote for this Supplemental because the President has blocked this funding for far too long. And I will vote for this supplemental because Democrats in Congress HAVE changed our course.



With this bill we have taken the responsible path forward - in spite of the President - on many of our nation's most pressing issues. This bill - for the first time - funds the needs of our veterans and wounded warriors who have sacrificed for all of us and whose needs the President has refused to acknowledge as a cost of war. This bill makes our homeland more secure by investing critical funds at our ports and borders. And this bill aids the recovery of hard hit communities across the country and in the Gulf Coast, where families have continued to suffer due to neglect from this Administration.



In just 5 short months, Democrats have provided a new commitment to the American people and a new direction in Iraq and we will continue on this new path to change.



Iraq



From the start of the Iraq war, the Republican Congress allowed President Bush a free hand. They held few oversight hearings. They demanded no accountability. There were no wide ranging investigations into the Administration's endless mistakes. And year after year, they sent the President blank checks in the form of emergency supplementals.



Now, five years into the war - after five years without accountability:

  • 3,400 of our heroes have died, and over 25,000 have been injured.


  • Our troops are policing the Iraqi civil war.


  • Billions of tax-payer dollars are unaccounted for.


  • The reconstruction of Iraq is far from complete.


  • And our veterans are facing awful conditions when they return home.


In November, Americans voted for an end to this. They voted for Congress to stand up, to ask difficult questions, and to hold those who make mistakes accountable for them. Democrats heard this call.



Immediately after being sworn in, we began holding hearings. We heard from military and foreign affairs experts, and called Administration officials to testify - under oath. We began conducting investigations into pre-war intelligence, the waste of tax-payer dollars, and the treatment of our veterans. Democrats also began holding vote after vote on Iraq.



We forced Republicans to make clear to Americans where they stood on the war. Are they for escalation or redeployment? Are they for allowing Iraqis to continue shirking responsibility, or for forcing them to stand up?



In January, President Bush ignored calls from Congress to follow the Iraq Study Group recommendations. Instead he escalated the number of troops in Iraq. Congressional Republicans refused to criticize the escalation. They stood by the President, and attacked anyone who spoke against the surge. But Congressional Democrats stood strong.



We upheld our constitutional duties and what Americans put us in office for -- conducting oversight and holding the Administration accountable for their actions. This trend continued for months.



Eventually, though slowly, some of my Republican colleagues began separating from the President and siding with us and the American people. And after months of this, Democrats overcame Republican opposition and passed a bill with redeployment provisions.



We sent this bill, based off advice from the Iraq Study Group and military leaders, and supported by 64 percent of Americans and 65 percent of Independents, to the President. We hoped he would read the bill. We hoped he would realize it was the best way forward in Iraq.



He didn't. He vetoed it.



But now, finally, after months of blindly following the President, more and more of our colleagues on the other side are beginning to stand up to the President, demanding benchmarks and a timeline for change in Iraq.



It is clear that despite a slim majority in the House and only a one vote margin in the Senate, Democratic efforts are working. Today is further evidence of that.



The bill we will pass today is not perfect. It doesn't go nearly as far as many of us would like. We - along with the American people - have made it clear what we want - a new direction that forces Iraqis to take control over their country. Unfortunately, the President said he would veto a bill with redeployment provisions, even if he could waive them.



So today we have a bill that:

  • Takes a step toward changing course in Iraq.


  • Forces the White House to acknowledge the will of the American people, and the role of Congress.


  • Pressures Iraqis to stand up.


  • And funds our troops.


The hard truth is that there are not enough Democrats to override a veto in the House or the Senate.

We realized that another veto would not serve our troops well. They need funds, not another White House delay. So we're moving ahead.



I'll say again - this bill is not all I hoped for. But this war will not be brought to a close in a day. It will not be brought to a close with one bill. We will support the troops, and bring an end to the war in Iraq. We will continue to debate and force votes on this war week after week after week.



Americans will continue to hear where Republicans stand on this war. Mr. President, we face terror threats around the world, and we must -- and we will -- defeat them. Unfortunately, the Iraqi civil war is not making us more secure.



We need to refocus our fight back to the war on terror, and we need to rebuild our military. I support a new direction in Iraq so that we can focus on the larger security challenges our country faces. And the security challenges facing our country are big. But I know we can improve security here at home. That we can track down and eliminate terrorists around the world. And that we can take care of our service members. It's just a matter of getting our priorities straight.



Redeploying our troops from Iraq is a critical first step toward getting our priorities straight. It is a step that the Senate must take. Just as passing this bill today is a step we must take.



Funding Priorities



This bill, however, is about much more than just Iraq. It's about taking care of the best military in the world, both when they are deployed and when they come home.



It's about rebuilding here in America, on the Gulf Coast and on family farms from coast to coast. And it's about providing hard working Americans struggling to care for their families with a desperately needed raise.



I'm not satisfied with the Iraq language in this bill. I disagree with Senator Warner's language - that's why I voted against it last week. But I'm very proud of everything else we've been able to accomplish.



Troops & Vets



Mr. President, taking care of our troops is the most basic responsibility we have in war time. This bill does that.



It includes billions more than the President requested to train and equip our fighting men and women.

From body armor and secure vehicles, to improved training, this bill provides our troops with everything they need to fight and win.



Sadly, in addition to the many failures of this President's overall Iraq policy, we've seen him fail to take care of our troops when they return home. Our men and women in uniform have answered the President's call to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without hesitation or complaint, they have left loved ones for years and put their lives on the line. Some have come home without limbs. Others have returned with mental scars. Many - thankfully - have escaped without injury. But all of them have earned our respect, and the best care possible when they come home.



Unfortunately, from the shameful conditions at Walter Reed and at VA facilities around the country, to a lack of PTSD counselors and a benefit claims backlog of months and sometimes years, it is clear the Administration has failed to provide the care our heroes earned.



This bill begins to right these failures. Among other things, it provides $1.8 billion for veterans' healthcare and funding to repair Walter Reed Hospital. This is the least we can do for our heroes.



Katrina



Mr. President, as we approach the second anniversary of Katrina, Americans throughout the Gulf are still suffering, and communities are still in shambles. This is a shame. It is simply unacceptable.

Democrats have worked tirelessly to reverse this neglect. We have pushed and fought for funds to re-build states hit by the worst natural disaster in American history.



Unfortunately, until recently, Republicans controlled Congress. They ignored our suggestions and oversaw more than a year of neglect. Democrats are committed to ending this neglect, and this bill begins to do just that.



It provides $6.4 billion for Katrina victims, including:

  • $1.4 billion to repair levees and other critical infrastructure damaged by Katrina.
  • $4.43 billion for FEMA disaster relief.


  • $25.3 million for drainage projects in the greater New Orleans area.


  • $181 million to provide disaster loans to business in communities impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


Agriculture



For the past two years our farmers have struggled through drought and other natural disasters, suffering heavy losses to crops and livestock.



Time after time, Democrats offered proposals to help these hard hit communities, and time after time, Republicans blocked these measures. Democrats understand how hard our farming communities have been hit.



And as voters requested in November, and as we've promised all along, we are here to work for every-day Americans. The supplemental does just that by providing $3 billion for farmers and ranchers. These funds are vital for our country. Farmers and ranchers must be able to provide for their loved ones, and be able to produce the food Americans rely upon to feed their families. These funds will ensure that all Americans -- farmers, ranchers, mechanics and teachers alike -- will be able to put food on their tables.



Port Security Funding



This legislation also takes steps to increase the security of our homeland. Up to $190 million is provided to speed implementation of my SAFE Ports Act. This funding will support cargo screening overseas, the hiring of new Customs officers, the establishment of new security measures across the country, and increased funding for Port Security Grants.



Secure Rural Schools



The bill also helps our rural communities, by providing a one year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program. This will keep forest communities from losing funding for schools, roads, and basic services.



As a parent and former teacher, I am committed to providing all children with a quality education, regardless of where they live. And this provision does just that.



SCHIP



American children, regardless of income, should be able to see a doctor when they are sick. Unfortunately, 8 million of them lack healthcare. Even worse, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides funding to states so low-income kids can receive medical care, has been shortchanged by the President and Republican Congress. This bill addresses these shortfalls by providing up to $650 million for SCHIP programs in 14 states.



Minimum Wage



Today, Americans are working harder, but falling further and further behind. Wages are not keeping up with hours put in on the job. And while the richest prosper, increased tuition, health care and retirement costs are taking a toll on the middle class.



This has been common knowledge for years. The data has been out in the open. But the Republican Congress refused to address it. This bill ends the blind eye turned by the Republican Congress. It raises the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour -- the first increase in nine years - and provides millions of hard-working Americans a real chance to provide for their families, and to get ahead.



Conclusion



In total, I believe this is a good bill. It supports our troops and invests in important needs here at home.



We will be back here, again and again, to discuss Iraq. To debate the next steps. And to ensure that the President is held accountable.



Now, just a few days before Memorial Day, we can honor our troops and our veterans and pass this important bill. I hope that we will.

...........................................................................


FUNDING INCLUDED IN THE FY 2007 SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIAITONS BILL:




Iraq

$99.5 billion for the Defense Department, primarily for continued military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including:

  • The legislation includes a $1 billion increase above the President's request for National Guard and Reserve equipment.


  • $1.1 billion for military housing.


  • $3 billion - $1.2 billion more than the President's request - for the purchase of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAP) -- vehicles designed to withstand roadside bombs and IEDs.




Care for Veterans and Wounded Service Members

$1.78 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs that was not in President's request, including:

  • $100 million for enhancements to mental health services.


  • $595 million to improve and maintain VA facilities.


  • $229 million to cover previous VA funding shortfalls.


  • $60.75 million for expenses related to hiring and training additional disability claims processors.


  • $25 million for prosthetics.


  • $20 million for disability medical examinations.


$3 billion for the Department of Defense - $1.9 billion more than the President's request - for treating service members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, including:

  • $900 million for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment and research.


  • $20 million to repair facilities at Walter Reed.


Port Security

$190 million for the Department of Homeland Security to improve port security - the President included no funding for port security. The port security funding includes:

  • Up to $75 million to implement Senator Murray's SAFE Ports Act including hiring additional Customs officers, improving the ability to scan cargo containers overseas, and purchasing additional X-ray and radiation detection equipment.


  • $110 million for port security grants that are part of Murray's SAFE Ports Act.


  • $5 million for the Port of Tacoma Intermodal Radiation Detection Test Center that Sen. Murray announced on May 11.


Hurricane Katrina Relief

$6.4 billion to rebuild the Gulf Coast and help the victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Storm and Flood Damaged Roads

$39.4 million for Washington state roads damaged during storms last year.

America's Farmers

$3 billion to help relieve the enormous pressure on farmers and ranchers as a result of severe drought and agricultural disasters.

Children's Health Care

$650 million in emergency funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Levy Repair

$153 million for flood control across the country. Includes funds to repair damaged levees in King, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Whatcom, and Lincoln counties.

Women's Health

Restores $4 million in funding to the Office of Women's Health.

Secure Rural Schools

Includes a one-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program which provides over $40 million dollars to rural Washington counties each year.

Asbestos in US Capitol Tunnels

Includes $50 million for utility tunnel repair and asbestos abatement. Senator Murray successfully pushed for U.S. Capitol tunnel workers to be removed from the tunnels below the Capitol because they were being exposed to deadly asbestos.

Minimum Wage

Raises the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour -- the first increase in nine years - and provides millions of hard-working Americans a real chance to provide for their families.