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Supporting the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Mr. Chairman, I would like to make, essentially, two points. First, my friends in the minority lack credibility on the issue they have raised last night and today; and, second, this bill is far too important to be stalled, delayed, put off by blatantly partisan tactics.

On the first point, why does the minority party lack credibility on this issue? Well, one of the two parties during the last 6 years took the largest surpluses, I think we have had in history, and managed to turn those surpluses into deficits, a multitrillion dollar turnaround that was accomplished in a record short time. That party was the party of my friends in the GOP. That's the same party today that is arguing for fiscal responsibility.

One of the two parties presided over the greatest growth and expansion and acceleration and abuse of the earmarking process in history, brought that process to a point where it accounted for more earmarks and more dollars than ever before. That party was also the GOP.

One of the parties in this House presided over a period that resulted in more indictments of Members, more investigations of Members, more appearance of impropriety than any time since ABSCAM or Watergate. That party was the Republican Party.

That same party that abused the earmark process, that had no earmark transparency is now objecting to what? It is now objecting to an earmark process that is better, that is more transparent than it has ever been. That party is objecting to the work of the majority which eliminated all earmarks in last year's bill.

So here you have a party that has demonstrated over the last 5 or 6 years utter fiscal irresponsibility, a lack of willingness to reform the earmark process, now complaining that, okay, the Democrats are reforming the process, they are making it more transparent, but we are complaining because we think they should take it much farther.

Well, I think the last 6 years demonstrated a lack of credibility, a serious lack of credibility among my friends in the minority party.

Why is this bill so important? Why is this bill essential to move forward, and why are these partisan stalling tactics so questionable?

This is the bill that provides the resources to defend our country. I am just going to focus on one because there are numerable areas of this bill that are so vital. But if you go back 5 or 6 years ago when President Bush and Senator Kerry had their debate, they were asked what is the number one security threat facing this country. Their answer surprisingly was the same, nuclear terrorism, the idea that al Qaeda could get nuclear material and bring it into this country.

Well, there are only so many things that prevent al Qaeda from doing that. It's not their lack of motivation or will. Osama bin Laden has already talked about wanting an American Hiroshima. The obstacles are getting the materiel, fashioning the bomb, and getting it into the country. Getting the materiel, unfortunately, is not very difficult, given the plentiful amounts of highly enriched uranium in the former Soviet Union.

Building a bomb is not that difficult because the technology is now decades old. Getting into the country, unfortunately, is not very difficult. That's something this bill seeks to address by deploying radiation-detector portal technologies; and more than just deploying them, as essential as that is, doing the analysis to find out which of the portal technologies will be most effective in keeping a nuclear or radiological weapon out of the country. These are the kinds of investments that are being delayed, stalled, run down by a party that has run our Nation's finances into the ground in the last 6 years, that is complaining about an earmark process better than anything they proposed.  

We need to move this bill forward. My friends in the minority don't have the credibility on this issue. They may have had it at some point, but they lost it in the last 6 years. This is not the way to retrieve it.

We need to move this bill forward. Now is the time to do it. We need to implement these reforms to improve our safeguards against nuclear material getting into this country. We need to ensure that our cargo is protected.

We need to ensure that any number of investments that are made in interoperable communications equipment and our firefighters and our police officers are made, and they are made now.

 I urge this bill move forward. I urge the delay come to an end.