United States House of Representatives 1400-1500
HOUSE FLOOR DEBATE: The House meets for legislative business. Five One Minutes Per Side Last Vote expected 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. H.R. 1591 - U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans Health and Iraq Accountability Act (Rep. Obey - Appropriations) (Complete Consideration) 14:00:04.5 it together but mass production. and the industrial era we took to mass production raised the or standard of our living, raised the level of our technology dramatically. that was the industrial revolution. and then we came along into the information age where we 14:00:19.7 figured out with the invention of the microchip that we could store and transfer information faster and more efficiently than ever before. . and it took both the industrial era and the information age, took our society, took our culture to a higher level, a 14:00:39.5 quantum leap in our economy. well, agriculture has really sat here, and since the inception of agriculture, the first time that i think it was a cave woman planted some seeds outside the cave or recognized 14:00:53.1 that they were growing and they figured out how to cultivate crops thousands of years ago. what agriculture has done for thousands of years is produce food and fiber, produced it a lot better than ever before, more efficiently than ever 14:01:08.6 before, as mr. smith has articulated very well in our production capability. but it's still food and fiber. food and fiber for thousands of years, the foundation of agriculture, but today we're 14:01:23.8 going the next level up. we're food, fiber and renewable fuels. three -- a third level now for agriculture. and i believe that the fuel component, the ethanol, the biodiesel, in particular, and the way we're able to run our animal fats back into 14:01:40.7 biodiesel. so now we've taken this next level, not just for energy, not just for fuel, but at the same time more biotech has moved agriculture up to another level to where we're really in the middle of science at the same time. 14:01:54.5 but i think that agriculture has gone from that level of food and fiber and it's taken the kind of quantum leap up into food, fiber, renewable fuel and biotech products, the same way that they took -- when we went into the industrial 14:02:14.6 revolution. those are huge, huge things we need to contemplate here. the efficiencies that's come into agriculture and technology. so today, and i have the privilege of representing one of the top ethanol production and biodiesel -- actually wind generation of electricity, 14:02:33.3 congressional districts in america. and i've watched that capital be invested. private capital last year invested over $1 billion in infrastructure to produce renewable energy in my 14:02:45.3 congressional district. one out of 45 congressional districts, mr. speaker. that's a huge investment, but it's also -- it says a lot about an industry that's been developed and an industry 14:02:56.7 that's growing. and it is making us less dependent on middle eastern oil. as we move into cellulosic and we're very confident that we can develop the technology to make cellulosic ethanol, that 14:03:13.2 opens up the production of cellulose that's not been used before. and it will produce a significant portion of our ethanol that will go, then, to reduce our dependency on middle 14:03:26.7 eastern gas. but that's the energy side of this. and i talk about the energy side a lot. and i would like to maybe stretch our minds a little bit on what can happen with the biotech side. what's happening with the biotech side? for example, there's biotech 14:03:43.6 research that recognizes that there are 25 million little babies in the world each year that die, that die unnecessarily due to the dehydration that's associated with diarrhea. 14:03:58.0 and if the component of mother's milk can get into that little baby, that little baby that's on its las gas, if we can put that in that baby within three to four days that baby has its health back, the vigor back and the baby is ready to go home with his 14:04:14.3 mother. well, we can't produce that by going to the mothers to extract it from their milk. but what we've done with biotech is spliced that gene into rice. so then when we harvest the 14:04:30.1 rice, we bring the rice back in and we extract the lactoferin from the rice and turn it into a little powder in a packet like maybe the sugar you put in your coffee. 14:04:45.0 you tear that, drop that in to a little vial of water, stir it up, warm it up, give it to that baby that would be dead in a few hours and that baby springs back to life. and in three or four days that baby is ready to go home. that's science and technology. 14:05:02.2 and today we can save the lives of six million babies on 60 acres of rice. and we're extracting that up in our neighborhood, not very far from the missouri river, i would add, mr. smith. it son my side, though, just as an asterisk. 14:05:21.4 that's the great things we're doing with science. another one is tripson, and that's a component that you find in your tears. as they wash across your eyeballs, it keeps your eyes from getting an infection in 14:05:36.1 them. so we've also learned how to synthesize tripson. and you see the pictures, especially in african and in poor countries of flies walking across the eyes of little eyeballs. 14:05:52.1 that's another piece of biotech science that's going on. another one -- and i would say, mr. speaker, this is the most impressive and fap t.s.a.ic development. and i'm going to call it agriculture -- fantastic development, and i'm going to call it agriculture. 14:06:08.3 this one is, i believe, the most impressive and has tremendous implications for all of humanity. and that is today we have -- spliced through transagainics and we can use it in the -- 14:06:30.1 transgenics and it goes on 1,000 times a day, but splice through the transgenics the human immune system to a hog. we're paying attention to those 14:06:42.4 things. but it happens at -- not very far from where i live. there's only one person in the country that is, at least for profit, bringing pigs by cesarean in -- for science. she's working out of virginia 14:07:02.9 tech university. and there they have spliced the immune -- the immune genetics from a baboon into that of a hog and raised that hog up until that hog was of adequate size that they can go in and 14:07:18.6 harvest the heart from that hog and transplant it into a back boon. now this is -- baboon. now this is an experiment. it lived for six months. now that was better than the 14:07:33.9 first human experiment. they're confident that they can transplant through transgenics this human immune system into a hog. and in doing so -- and we're only three fours or four years away from -- three years or four years away from doing this 14:07:50.8 successfully, they can rebuild the genetics -- there are 12 14:07:58.0 indicators, and they can put together those 12 major indicators so they have the highest possibility of organ acceptance on organ transplant. we will be able to very soon 14:08:13.1 custom raise human organs in hogs. and today we're using -- we're transplanting out of hogs ligaments, knee ligaments, mr. speaker, and also heart valves. we've done that for years. 14:08:27.0 the reason we can do it is cartilage and there's not a rejection factor for cartilage. we can raise in hogs 28 different organs, not just hearts but lungs, esophagus, bladder. 14:08:45.0 name your organ, except for the brain -- we don't plan to transplant the hog's brain in there. i think there are some folks in this congress that might have happened, mr. smith. but anyway, we will eliminate that organ. there are 28 organs we think we can utilize of transplanting 14:09:02.9 that from a hog into a human being. we've done that with heart valves. we can surely do that with other -- all the other organs. and one of the most important is skin transplants. the burn victims that we have. the burn victims we have coming back from irblinge, -- iraq, to 14:09:22.0 give them a new skin in a food lot, in a sterile, sterile environment. and the next step is to match your identical d.n.a., mr. speaker, so you can have your own customized hog there that has customized organs that 14:09:38.6 would be like your identical twin brother. two to three years on the first part of this, matching the d.n.a. chains exactly to take a sample, and raising those organs will happen will -- in about 12 to 15 years. 14:09:54.7 these are some of the things we can do in bioteches. and couple that with the renewable fuels, couple that with the tremendous production we've provided. at the same time we have more soil convery vation, more water conservation, better land 14:10:11.5 management, better processing and handling of our manure, for example. it is -- there's no better steward for the environment than the american farmer. no one cares more about their water quality, no one cares more about their air quality. they live right in the middle of that every day. 14:10:26.7 and they care about their land. they want to hand that along to the next generation and the next generation. the best stewards are the ones in charge. and they're in iowa, they're nebraska, they're all across the cornbelt, all across the soybean area. and they go coast to coast. this is a tremendous production 14:10:44.3 system that we have in the united states without standing -- with outstanding and impressive people who are committed to feeding the world. and we honor them today on ag week on the floor of the congress. 14:10:58.8 i appreciate the gentleman from nebraska for raising this issue and being here tonight and saying a few words. i yield back the balance of my time. mr. smith: i thank the gentleman from iowa, mr. king. i appreciate to the fact that you speak to the future as we look at so many aspects of 14:11:16.4 agriculture. i think sometimes we forget about the future and actually how far we've come. we have water challenges in nebraska, and it's interesting in the middle of a seven-year drought. i don't think enough credit is given to the better practices that have been engaged in 14:11:33.3 nebraska relating to irrigation that we're seeing record amounts of yields. record yields amidst 50% reduction in irrigation. and now there are also those critics out there, they tend to 14:11:49.5 be critical of the fact that there aren't return flows from the former flowing of irrigation, perhaps that many would consider waste. but it's interesting that as farmers become more and more efficient, they're also 14:12:06.1 criticized along the way. and i think that that is unfortunate. when you talk about energy, it's absolutely vital that we realize that even amidst corn prices that are strong, we have unprecedented cost of inputs, especially relating to energy. 14:12:21.4 whether it's the fertilizer or the diesel for the tractor. and that's what makes me nervous about these urges to regulate industry even more. it will drive up the cost. and not only electricity for 14:12:37.8 the consumer and their residence, but it will drive up the cost of energy as we see it on farms and ranches. and that will drive up the cost of food. plain and simple. and as i stated earlier, we've 14:12:53.9 come a long way in terms of producing food in an affordable format. i was reading through and i noticed part of the essay contest winner from the ag council of america, and this is the 2007 winner, latasha cote 14:13:12.6 from myrtle, missouri, couch high school. and students from seventh through 12th grade scommitted original essays about the importance of agriculture in the united states. and under the theme american 14:13:25.0 agriculture in 2025, students were encouraged to focus their essays on the potential landscape of american agriculture in 2025 based on where we are today and the opportunities that lie ahead. and ms. cote read her essays to members of congress, federal 14:13:40.5 agencies representatives, media and others in a celebration of agriculture. and let me share with you just an excerpt. and i quote. the alarm sounds off at about 8:00 a.m. a young man reaches over to turn it off, gets up, jumps in the shower, eats his breakfast 14:13:58.1 and then heads toward the milk barn. there is no rush to the cows because they've already been milked. he looks at the computer system to see how much milk given per second, the amount of butter 14:14:14.7 fat and tells the farmer the exact weight of the milk. wait, where's the reality check? well, there isn't one. this is only one example of how far the industry in all farms has come since the year of 2007. and i haven't had a chance to read the entire piece, but i 14:14:31.8 wanted to congratulate ms. cote and every student who submitted the essay in the contest. i think that it may be even sooner than 2025 when we see these things come about, but it's great to see young people looking to the future. 14:14:47.3 as we look at the big picture of agriculture, certainly globely we always think of trade and we think of -- i think the unfortunate situation with the closure of our beef, the rejection of our beef, in 14:15:02.1 many cases, to asia. but it does, i think, send a message to the larger issue of where we're -- where we are at with livestock in america. it's interesting that we do find ourselves with a bit of a shortage of grain to feed our 14:15:19.4 livestock. and as we try to address this shortage, certainly i think it can be best if the government stays out of the way. . but when i hear concerns of this in the livestock industry, 14:15:34.6 perhaps getting a little worried, it worries me, too, because the livestock industry has been absolutely crucial to the economies of rural america. and the fact that these economist are not appreciated 14:15:52.6 like they should be, it's to note how this has led to live strock operations having to become much larger. and as they become much larger, there is concern about the 14:16:08.6 livestock waste. and it was encouraging to me last year to see there was an understanding that we don't want policies to force the producer to get larger. we want them to have the options of getting larger, should they pursue that. 14:16:24.1 should they feel comfortable with their current status, that's fine, too. it's interesting, though, as we see large operators, small operators and medium-sized operators, we have to realize that i believe our fundamental responsibility is to create 14:16:42.5 opportunities. government can create opportunities, not through a check necessarily, but we can create policy opportunities so that the little guy has the option of getting larger and can prosper and pursue the economic dreams that they wish to. 14:16:59.9 and as the gentleman from iowa pointed out the fact that there are a lot of promising scenarios out there. as i go across the third district of nebraska and i visit operators, whether small or large, it is so encouraging to 14:17:14.1 see people engaged in the economy. and as they're engaged, whether it's at a beef cattle processing plant or a pork processing plant or an ethanol plant or whether they are creating biodiesel in 14:17:31.0 their garage, there is tremendous opportunity and i believe it's my responsibility to maybe not protect that opportunity, but to expand that. and to make sure that every producer, every taxpayer has that opportunity to grow. 14:17:47.1 and hopefully, make a greater living and the government won't take it away from them and they 14:17:53.8 can reapply that back into capital and back into the economy. if the gentleman from iowa would like to participate. mr. king: i thank the gentleman from nebraska for yielding. especially the young families and families that will be 14:18:08.3 raising their families on the farm and working in the towns, it occurs to me that we often don't discuss about entrepreneurial agriculture. and used to be that was all we had was entrepreneurial agriculture, the traditional 14:18:23.8 agriculture i grew up with and in the middle was fairly -- almost purely entrepreneurial. and yet, we went through the farm crisis in the 1980's. i lived for three and a halfiers with a knot in my gut wondering 14:18:39.3 if i was going to make it through from week to week and sometimes your identity of your life's work is what you do. i was in an agricultural-related business. the point i want to make is i saw this happen and i saw -- our 14:18:57.7 bank closed at 3:00,. and the red tag went on the door and the highway patrol guarded the doors and everybody's account was frozen. my account, and the accounts of 14:19:11.1 my customers and i had a payroll to meet and i had two pennies in my pocket. i could rub them together. and i did rub them together and think about the symbolism about what had happened. we had pretty good balance the agricultural operations going on 14:19:28.0 with a significant commitment to the livestock industry. and so we had croppers there raising soybeans and corner and cattle and hogs and turkey feeders. and as the bank figured out, the new owner of the bank, which was 14:19:44.3 identified over the weekend, began to take up the loan applications and the financial applications, now this is in the middle of prime corner planting time, to have your accounts shut down, your credit line shut down 14:19:59.2 and if you didn't have your inputs all purchased and delivered, no one knew if you had any credit, whether they would be paid or not or how it would unfold. what happened was, loan applicant after loan applicant that had been financed the day 14:20:15.2 before, lined up to get their applications reconsidered by the new owners. and the new owners took a look at those balance sheets and the list of assets and asked the question, where are we the most vulnerable? 14:20:28.5 where are we most likely to lose our money? that would be the livestock, because it can die. and what is the most liquid commodity that you have that you can turn it into cash? that would be the livestock. the livestock was loaded up and 14:20:48.0 hauled to slaughter and neighbor after neighbor was taken out of the livestock business. and then can see up so these same producers could stay in the row crop business and because of the programs we had and the risk 14:21:03.2 management tools that were in place then and we have better ones in place today, if they had a reasonable yield and not too much bad luck, they could stay in business for maybe another year. these balanced risk spread 14:21:19.7 operations became row crop operations. the livestock went on the truck and was shipped and so then went the equipment that was necessary to support the livestock. often the best combine was sold and maybe even the best truck or 14:21:37.4 pickup. it shrunk the operation down so they could stay in business. we lost the livestock tradition. and we're rebuilding that now and the industry has changed some. but the entrepreneurialism that 14:21:50.6 came with that, much of that disappeared at the same time, mr. speaker. and so what we need to have is people that can make a good living by taking risk. and by investing in new ideas and new approaches. livestock has been a traditional 14:22:07.0 approach and has been the mortgage lifter for years, especially the hog production has been the mortgage lifter. but to broaden that out and specialty crops today with the biotech industry i mentioned earlier or i happened to come 14:22:24.6 across four years ago during a political campaign, a family in my district that had 1,300 acres, presumably they were crop acres, but one of those 1,300 acres it was all corn except one 14:22:41.4 acre and it was set aside for what i call a glorified garden. they had six kids and they turned out development child 14:22:52.9 labor. but that single acre was only penciled out at $300 an acre. this single acre of this glorified garden, highly managed type of an operation produced $27,000 worth of crop of that 14:23:11.2 single acre. they might have put $40,000 worth of child labor, but they learned work ethic, managing and rotation and learned irrigation and weed management. but $27,000 per acre. so, when i found out about this 14:23:28.4 -- and i'm sure there are other similar stories out there -- it occurs to me someplace between that -- it's more than $300 an acre, on that day, about $300 an acre, versus $27,000 for that single acre of garden. 14:23:45.2 between those two are all kinds of alternatives that are there for the entrepreneurs. so if they want to go the route of a lot of labor and intense management and take on the labor and try to pull that $27,000 out 14:24:02.0 of that acre or race organic or specialty crops, all of these things need to be opened for the young producers and they will find their extra margin of profit. not so much raising program crops. 14:24:16.5 that's a baseline income that maintains the value of the land. put more management skill in, more labor in and raise these specialty crops, some of which i talked about and the or beganics. we will see young producers take that on and young people are 14:24:35.0 usually short of capital. what can they do? they've got more labor they can provide. they can do the work. i'm looking forward to watching and hoping to provide the tools for the young agricultural entrepreneurs in both the crop 14:24:50.7 and in the animal sciences, for them to develop high value commod its. and as they begin to feed the world, species after species, crop after crop. and we haven't gone anywhere near the surface of the things 14:25:07.2 we can do with biotech. one of the other points -- this is another scientific mind stretcher, and that is that about -- let's see, 32 years ago, there was a rare endangered species of an asian animal 14:25:29.4 called a gaur. and that animal was in the san diego zoo for years. it had gone down and looked like it was going to die. 14:25:40.1 the zoo keeper there took a punch out of the ear out of that gaur and froze it in liquid nitrogen and kept a piece of that year of that animal frozen 14:25:56.8 for 28 years. and they picked that up and they sent it, then, i'm going to say six years ago up to a lab in sioux city, iowa. there, the doctor took the 14:26:12.5 frozen piece of tissue and he cloned that gaur animal by implanting the nuke clee us of that that he could take from that cell and cloned it into the egg of a cow. and implanted that embryo into 14:26:30.1 the uterus of the cow, where this gaur, this rare animal, kind of looks like a yak, this gaure gaur had this animal. 14:26:50.0 about a year later, they shipped that animal back to the san diego zoo where he is walking around. that is a space age, star wars kind of a thing. if you think what we can do with 14:27:03.3 that kind of science and how we can improve our heards and improve productivity and the meat quality and the feed conversion factors, how we can reduce, eradicate and eliminate disease, how we can work with 14:27:19.1 all of that and at the same time opening up the fields so the agricultural producers across the country can continue and feed america is a very, very optimistic story. and i think we're in the best position right now in 14:27:35.8 agriculture than we have ever been in the history of the united states and in the history of the world. and i'm sorry i won't be around to see where it will take the next generation of humanity. but i wanted to express those things and i yield back to the 14:27:52.1 gentleman. mr. smith: as i wrap this up, i certainly want to thank the gentleman for really focusing on the future and the sky is the limit when we can focus on the benefits of agriculture and perhaps the things we take for 14:28:06.0 granted. as we talk about the future and younger generations engaging in agriculture, i find it unconscionable that the so-called debt tax or the estate tax would go back up to 55% and 14:28:24.5 that a subsequent generation on a farm or ranch would have to come up with cash to enhert that farm or ranch. that's sad, that's unamerican and its insensitive to taxpayers 14:28:39.7 and i think it has immense disregard for the future and the economic impact that that would have. i think too many people think that only certain departments of the grocery store really come from agriculture as we would 14:28:56.9 think of it. but the fact is, it's involved in health care, whether its pharmaceuticals, surgical suit yourself, ointments, latex gloves, capsules for heart valves or with construction, 14:29:13.2 lumber, paint, tar paper, other things and i could go on the list that would take much more time than i can consume here today. but the fact is, we've come a long way and we can go a lot further as we focus on 14:29:29.6 opportunities, as we look at the fact that we need each other. farmers need consumers, consumers need farmers. and in between those entities, there's opportunity, whether it's processing, whether it's research. 14:29:43.5 i think we can go a lot further than we have already come and as we look to the future. again, i would like to thank the agriculture council of america for providing a lot of this information and the very 14:30:01.8 hands-on approach that they take and look forward to working with them as i serve the people of the third district of nebraska. and as farmers of the third district of nebraska and farmers and ranchers continue to feed the world. thank you, mr. speaker. 14:30:28.0 the speaker pro tempore: under 14:30:43.5 the speaker's announced policy of january 18, 2007, the gentlewoman from florida, ms. wasserman schultz, is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader. ms. wasserman schultz: or 14:30:59.4 something like that, mr. speaker. i want to thank our speaker, nancy pelosi, and our entire democratic party to once again come to the floor and talk about the new direction of 14:31:15.1 america that we are humbled to be able to lead this country in. i november 7 of last year, the american people spoke loudly and clearly, mr. speaker, that it was imperative that we move this nation in a new direction on a variety of issues, the 14:31:36.2 least of which we're going in this war in iraq. and i'm so proud today to be able to stand here knowing that the vote i cast personally and 14:31:47.2 that the 217 other members that passed that legislation on this -- off this floor this afternoon cast so that we can now finally begin to ensure that our troops will have the armor that they need, the armor and the equipment that they 14:32:03.9 need, a plan to get them home, most importantly, and to ensure that we can begin to transition in iraq so that the iraqi people will be able to stand on their own, run their democracy and make sure that they can focus on solving the civil war 14:32:23.1 and the strive that is going on -- strife that is going on in the midst of their country. that is what we have been doing for them. what we are doing for them that we can no longer do is 14:32:36.1 inserting ourselves in the middle of their chaos without plans to be able to withdraw, without a single brigade of their army completely trained to stand on their own. 14:32:50.5 it is time and the american people have insisted that it is time to begin to move in the direction where we can shift the mission from combat to training, where we can focus our troops that will remain there by the end of next year on counterterrorism, on putting 14:33:07.7 down the insurgency and on making sure that the iraqi troops are well trained so that they can continue to move forward with their experiment in democracy. that is what the legislation that we passed today will do, and i'm so proud of our caucus and of our colleagues and of 14:33:24.4 our leadership for the work that we've done together for the unity that we showed, for the courage that so many of our colleagues showed, mr. speaker. we have a very diverse caucus, a very diverse group of democratic members who for a 14:33:42.2 variety of reasons, for a variety of soul searching, were able to come together from all of the different facets of the philosophical spectrum, to come together today and pass this extremely important 14:33:56.6 legislation. i'll tell you, mr. speaker, i've been in public office for 14 years. i've only served in the u.s. house of representatives for two years. that was one of the most emotional experiences and the most difficult experiences that i know i've gone through. and i cast that vote knowing 14:34:13.9 that i had the support of my constituents, knowing and confident that my constituents want to make sure that we can bring those iraqi -- bring those american troops home. i had an opportunity to travel and spend some time with our 14:34:29.9 troops at walter reed army medical center a few weeks ago on the resolution opposing the president's escalation proposal. and i said this the last few times, and we talked about this on the floor, mr. speaker. 14:34:44.3 i had a chance to speak to a number of different troops individually. one young man that's stayed with me, and i think i've thought about him and his family every single them. as a mom with little kids, i have 7-year-old twins and a 3-year-old little girl. 14:35:01.8 almost every major vote i cast i cast with them in mind. there is another generation of americans who we are going to protect from that vote that we cast today. and this young man who i had a chance to meet with had been from -- had just gotten home 14:35:19.1 from his third tour of duty. each was a year. his third tour. and his 6-year-old little boy was in the room, along with his wife. and his little boy was so excited and so -- you know, just so full of vibrancy and life and he was -- he shook my 14:35:36.1 hand and it was just so neat to be able to talk to him. and he told me that his daddy was finally going to be coming home for good, forever, in august. he had come down with a really inexplicable illness and was 14:35:53.6 convullessing at walter reed. and when the young man told me that he had been through his third tour of duty and his boy was 6, it was not lost on me that he had missed half of his son's life. 14:36:06.2 a 6-year-old little boy with his dad gone for three separate years. that is just unacceptable. that is not what the procedures are supposed to require of our men and women in uniform. there is supposed to be at least 365 days of noncombat 14:36:27.3 duty, in between tours. the legislation that we passed today will ensure that that will happen. the legislation that we passed today will ensure that we have -- that our troops have the equipment that they need. it will ensure that $1.7 14:36:41.3 billion in funding will provide the health care that our veterans need. you know, i listened to a lot of the speeches on the floor, almost all of them today. and what i continually heard -- what we continually heard from 14:36:56.5 our friends on the other side of the aisle was almost as if maybe they didn't read the bill, maybe they weren't paying attention. but more likely they were just being political. and i heard comments about how our legislation didn't provide 14:37:13.6 the equipment for the troops when up until now it's this president that has sent with the -- with the acknowledgment of the military leadership has sent our troops into harm's way without the proper training. 14:37:28.2 we have the least trained -- least prepared army that we've ever had at this point. spread as thin as they possibly could be spread. and then they have the nerve on the other side of the aisle to suggest that it is us that is not providing the protection 14:37:45.0 for our troops. that is ludicrous. i'm not sure whether they're 14:37:52.4 listening to their constituents at home or sit down with troops who have been in the line of duty. maybe they're listening with different ears, or maybe more likely they're listening with a different heart because the 14:38:04.8 heart that i listen with knows that we can't allow the pointless loss of human life anymore. not for our men and women in uniform. and not for the iraqi people who are also losing their lives in the midst of chaos. 14:38:20.6 if we're going to focus on the war on terror, we should be shifting our approach to the war in afghanistan where we provide a significant infusion of funding, badly needed funding so we can turn affings back around. 14:38:35.1 if you recall, mr. speaker, after the tragedy of 9/11 and we initially went in to respond to that tragedy, to stand up for america, we went into afghanistan, and we got rid of the taliban, and we made sure 14:38:52.6 that we could restore human rights in that country and restore the rights of women to go to school and to walk in public without a burka, and to really shine the light of freedom on a country that lived in darkness for decades. and instead this president and 14:39:10.3 this republican leadership shifted our focus, lost our purpose, lost their way, or gave up is really a better way to put it. and invaded iraq under false pretenses with -- provided this 14:39:27.2 congress, many of our colleagues who voted yes, relying on the information from this administration that it was out of necessity. this wasn't a war of necessity. this was a war of choice. 14:39:40.2 we don't have the luxury of going into wars of choice, mr. speaker, when we have wars of necessity like afghanistan, when we have a situation like we have in iran where we have a leader in that country who has threatened this -- the very existence of the state of 14:39:56.6 israel, our closest ally in the middle east, where we have nations in the middle east who truly want to succeed -- to see democracy fail. instead, we have created an inc. baitor for terrorism in -- 14:40:14.2 ink baitor for terrorism in iraq. i heard colleagues say that we were going to lose the war on terror if we passed this legislation today. well, the administration has made the war on terror worse, has made the likelihood of 14:40:29.9 being attacked greater by creating the cesspool that exists in that nation. and we must take the steps that the legislation that i proudly supported and that you proudly supported today, that that legislation will do so we can 14:40:47.2 put some benchmarks in place and just like the president said on january 10, so we can establish some benchmarks, make sure that the iraqi leadership meets those benchmarks, and if they don't, mr. speaker, then the blank check and the open-ended commitment to this 14:41:03.0 pointless war will end. and that is the direction that we are now moving in. and i'm pleased to be joined by my colleague and good friend, neighbor from the state of florida, my colleague, mr. kendrick meek. mr. meek: well, i can tell you, 14:41:18.6 congresswoman wulleds, it was a pleasure -- congresswoman wasserman schultz, it was a pleasure hearing you speak. mr. speaker, we were talking about what happened here on this floor less than two hours 14:41:32.4 ago. a major vote that took place here on this house, and it didn't pass by one or two votes. it only takes one vote to win as it relates to a bill or what have you, a resolution moving 14:41:51.6 through here. i have to say that i'm proud of the members that voted in the affirmative for this bill. this bill has started -- the emergency supplemental funding bill has started a new era as 14:42:06.8 it relates to how americans think about the war in iraq, how our troops are being treated in iraq and afghanistan and even here back at home on health care services. 14:42:21.1 and also it gave voice to those individuals that went to the voting booth looking for representation, looking for a new direction, looking for the congress to carry out the kind of oversight that we should carry out as members of congress, on behalf of any 14:42:38.0 action that will involve the american taxpayer and in many cases involve foreign nations investing -- well, loaning money to the united states of 14:42:50.6 america. we have to pay all of that back. we have to be accountable to the u.s. taxpayer, and we have to make sure that we provide the oversight for the american people. now i heard ms. wasserman 14:43:05.7 schultz speak to the point as some members came to the floor to vote against the bill -- some voted against the bill because they just -- that's just what they do. they vote against war, they vote against whatever their 14:43:20.7 philosophy may be as it relates to war. but also you had people that voted for the bill that's against war, that want to see an end to war. and no other emergency supplemental up until the one that came before this house 14:43:36.3 today actually put forth benchmarks for the iraqi government to meet, actually hold the feet, the fire of the executive branch saying if you are going to send additional troops, then the parameters you put on the iraqi government 14:43:51.5 will actually be enforced. the department of defense regulations as it relates to how troops can be deployed and the readiness of our troops before they go into theater, they wrote that in the department of defense, the 14:44:06.9 administrators, bureaucrats, the secretaries, what have you, the bush administration wrote those regulations. we put it inside this piece of legislation and enforced it. and also we made sure that members had opportunities to 14:44:24.5 show their constituents where they stand. now let's talk a little bit about that, because i heard ms. wasserman schultz mention something, well, folks coming to the floor, you know, never before in the history of the country that we've ever voted to micromanage and -- they used words like micromanage. 14:44:42.5 we've never came to the floor to limit anything as it relates to war. and when will we have a victory? and that's never, ever, ever, ever happened. i'm in my office, ms. wasserman schultz, and i'm watching these members on the floor. and i spoke to this point last 14:44:58.6 night, because last night i was here after 10:00, 10:30, actually closed the house last night, moved to adjourn the house last night, and i couldn't help but try to get the evidence to show that it has happened. 14:45:15.8 as a matter of fact, timelines have been set by the same very republican leaders that are now in the republican leadership right now that came to this well here today and had issue with what the majority of the 14:45:28.7 members of the house wanted to do and ultimately did in the vote. . mr. speaker, this is what our group is about, making sure that we shed light where it needs to be. 14:45:44.8 let's look at this. bosnia, june 24, 1997, the house brought to the floor an amendment that would set a time line and a date certain for withdrawal of u.s. peacekeepers from the mission in bosnia. 14:46:02.1 pay attention to these dates. on december 13, 1995, an attempt to prohibit funds from being used for the deployment of ground troops in bosnia. it actually failed 210-218, 14:46:20.2 which i have the names of those individuals that are in the republican leadership now voted in the affirmative to try to stop that from happening. december 13, 1995, a resolution 14:46:36.5 passed expressing serious concerns in opposition to the deployment of troops in bosnia, where ethnic cleansing was taking place. some of our same members in the republican leadership voted to 14:46:51.9 pass that piece of legislation. again, june -- there was also another vote that was taken on june 24, 1997, voted to set a time line, date certain for 14:47:09.1 withdrawal of troops from bosnia. and that passed 278-148. and the date certain that troops had to leave was june 30, 1998. i'm going to say it again. 14:47:24.8 some of the same individuals that voted today against the -- the reason for voting against this emergency supplemental for the men and women in arm's way and the veterans's health care voted for a time line in bosnia. 14:47:44.1 let's talk about the comparisons here. the bosnia conflict was 18 14:47:49.9 months, mr. speaker. this conflict is 48-plus months, moving well into its fifth year. the cost of bosnia to the united states of america? $7 billion. 14:48:04.2 the cost of the war in iraq. $379 billion and counting well beyond $379 billion, u.s. taxpayer dollars and loan money. casualties in bosnia, casualties 14:48:22.6 in bosnia, i repeat, zero of u.s. troops. zero. casualties as of 10:00 a.m. today in iraq of u.s. personnel, troops, men and women in 14:48:39.5 uniform, 3,229. i would even go further mr. speaker, 13,415 wounded in action and have returned to duty. and i would even go further by saying 10,772 wounded in action who cannot return back to duty. 14:48:58.1 i think it's important that we look at the facts. again, i want to say -- we didn't come down here to play around, but came down here to share the facts, because we're both busy people and we have things to do and this is the end 14:49:13.7 of the work week and members heading back to their districts. but we want to make sure that this moment of leadership, this moment of courage is in the congressional record to let it be known that we did have 14:49:29.1 members that stood up on behalf of our men and women in uniform, and we had the men and women of this house that were in the majority that were willing to put their name and their vote on the line on behalf of the men and women that serve our country and their families. 14:49:47.2 i have the vote sheet here from the bosnia vote. every republican voted yes for the time line, with the exception of two. it's right here. 14:50:00.1 any member who wants to run down to the floor and take a look at that, they can. also, we have here the vote as it relates to passing the -- for passing the resolution that we 14:50:15.5 had today, which is roll call vote. the emergency supplemental. roll call vote 186. i can't say for the two republicans who voted in opposite of the republican leadership, when we took the 14:50:33.1 vote in -- i mean on june 24, 1997, were consistent today of the only two republicans that voted in the affirmative with the majority of the house to make sure that we place benchmarks and a time line in 14:50:50.9 iraq. consistency for those two members that anyone can find in the congressional record. and we commend them for their consistency. i think it's important, ms. wasserman schultz when we look 14:51:05.7 at the facts and the tough votes that need to be taken. does everyone agrees that's in the emergency supplemental? i don't agree with everything that's in the emergency supplemental. but for the men and women, i voted for it. 14:51:19.7 there were members who had a rough time and it was a very tough vote for them, but they didn't want to continue to look in the eyes of their constituents as they go to high schools programs and junior high school programs and they're asked the question and i don't 14:51:37.9 ask people if you are a constituent of minor not, congressman, how long are we going to be in iraq? i can't answer the question, because the president says we're going to be there as long as we need to be there. 14:51:52.0 and guess what? those very same individuals, democrat, republican, independent, went last november and voted for a new direction, voted for an opportunity to have this congress stand in the position that it should be 14:52:08.6 standing and that's oversight and accountability on behalf of the men and women that are in harm's way. so i feel that the members that voted in the affirmative voted for outstanding health care, beginning to move in the direction of outstanding health 14:52:24.4 care for our veterans, making sure that our men and women, when they're deployed -- some of them are deployed 120 days when they return back to their families, because some bureaucrat in the defense 14:52:39.0 department says we have to make sure we keep our rotation and our troop numbers levels up to 143,000 troops on the ground. 14:52:49.5 i know this brigade has been home only for three months. we got to get them back into the fight when the department of defense regulations rule against that. since we're having a moment of clarity in this bill, it allows the president that if it's 14:53:06.6 within the national security interests that these troops go back into theater, he has the ability to do that, but report to congress on that action. if anyone says we are endangering the troops, the general can't do what he wants to do, that is nothing but 14:53:25.0 rhetoric and "talking points" with a crowd you may want to get a cheer out of based on where you are. but the reality and the hard core facts is we have been set up here to legislate and 14:53:39.3 oversight. the president is not the only person who can make decisions on accountability and oversight. the u.s. congress constitutionally and it's our duty. we don't wear the uniform. but we have been sent here to 14:53:54.4 make sure that things go the way they're supposed to go on behalf of the men and women in harm's way. i yield. ms. wasserman schultz: thank you very much, because i want to talk about the point you just made about the president making a decision that he thinks in the 14:54:12.3 national security interests. mr. speaker, this legislation provides benchmarks, the same benchmarks that this president came before the country and said were essential on january 10, that we have unit readiness, 14:54:27.3 that we have a -- well, we have benchmarks -- let me start again. we have two sets of benchmarks here. we have benchmarks that this democratic congress put in this legislation to make sure that we could protect our troops, to 14:54:41.6 make sure that we weren't sending them into harm's way unprepared. and we have benchmarks in this bill to ensure that the iraqis meet their obligations. and those obligations, those benchmarks are the same ones that the president indicated to 14:54:56.0 the american people were essential when he spoke to the nation on january 10. when this congress switched from republican to democrat after november 7, the main reason it happened is because the american people were sick and tired of being sick and tired. they had lost their confidence 14:55:11.9 in their government. their confidence in this congress was badly shaken. we had scandals, we had a culture of corruption, we had a situation where the american people couldn't believe that their congress was doing right on their behalf and that the 14:55:30.4 majority, republican at the time, was here for the right reasons. that's why there was the wholesale shift and we won 33 seats on november 7. we are exercising congress's 14:55:44.0 appropriate oversight role and reasserting the system of checks and balances that the founding fathers envisoned, particularly by putting language in this bill that ensures that the units have to be ready, they have to be 14:55:59.7 prepared. the chief of the military department has to determine that a unit is fully mission-capable before it is deployed to iraq. and the reason i wanted to interject during mr. meek's remarks is because, you 14:56:15.2 mentioned the president can certify to the congress that sending a unit into harm's way in iraq, in spite of the fact that they are not fully mission-capable, would be in the national interest. he is the commander in chief. 14:56:30.6 there is no question that the president is the commander in chief. but it is our responsibility as members of congress that we look out for the american people, specifically and especially in this case, our men and women in uniform who are going over to 14:56:46.7 defend this country. we provide the funding to send them over. we provide the funding to ensure that they are fully equipped and prepared. and the president should have to come back to us and say, in spite of the fact that these women and men are going over 14:57:02.5 there unprepared and not mission-capable, it's still in the national interest to send them. that is the least that he can do. he can maintain his role as commander of chief in this operation, but he has to make 14:57:16.3 sure that he is doing right by our troops and he has to own up what he's doing in this legislation. including the length of deployment. there's a department of defense policy that requires the department of defense to abide 14:57:32.0 by its current policy, which is that you shouldn't deploy a unit to iraq or any reason more than 365 days for the army and more than 210 days for the marines. the president in this legislation can waive that provision, too, but he has to 14:57:48.6 say that it's in the national interest to do so. to send troops on another tour with less than a year's rest, less than 210 days in the case of marines. again, he has to actually say to that young man, whose 14:58:06.8 six-year-old boy i met, it's ok to miss half your son's life, because we need you. it's in the national interest, instead of being able to sort of duck and cover and do it in a 14:58:22.4 clandestine way without the american people knowing and without him owing up to it. the time of deloit, it requires the defense department, the time between deployment is essential as well. 14:58:36.0 the president can waive that provision, but he has to say to the congress that it is in the national interest to do so. we also have benchmarks related to the iraqi people as well. by july 1, 2007, the president has to certify that iraq is 14:58:53.8 making meaningful and substantial progress in meeting political and military benchmarks, including militia disarmment program and a plan that equitably shares oil revenues among all iraqis. they are in the midst of a civil 14:59:10.4 war and killing each other over things like that. the president has to certify there is progress being made, otherwise, we're going to be there forever, with no independent in site and no pressure on the iraqi leadership 14:59:24.5 to get the job done. why would they feel the need to move in the direction of progress if they know that there is a never-ending, open-ended commitment for us to be there and for the money to keep 14:59:40.4 flowing. they have to achieve political and military benchmarks. by ock 1, 2007, the president has to certify that the iraqis have achieved military and political benchmarks and if he doesn't certify, u.s. troops will begin redeployment 14:59:57.8 completed by march, 2008. there are steps towards progress that the iraqi leadership must take or we're not going to continue to put our men and women in harm's way and we shouldn't. and finally, we need to -- eventually end our participation
United States House of Representatives 1400-1500
HOUSE FLOOR DEBATE: The House meets for legislative business. Five One Minutes Per Side Last Vote expected 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. H.R. 1591 - U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans Health and Iraq Accountability Act (Rep. Obey - Appropriations) (Complete Consideration) 14:00:04.5 it together but mass production. and the industrial era we took to mass production raised the or standard of our living, raised the level of our technology dramatically. that was the industrial revolution. and then we came along into the information age where we 14:00:19.7 figured out with the invention of the microchip that we could store and transfer information faster and more efficiently than ever before. . and it took both the industrial era and the information age, took our society, took our culture to a higher level, a 14:00:39.5 quantum leap in our economy. well, agriculture has really sat here, and since the inception of agriculture, the first time that i think it was a cave woman planted some seeds outside the cave or recognized 14:00:53.1 that they were growing and they figured out how to cultivate crops thousands of years ago. what agriculture has done for thousands of years is produce food and fiber, produced it a lot better than ever before, more efficiently than ever 14:01:08.6 before, as mr. smith has articulated very well in our production capability. but it's still food and fiber. food and fiber for thousands of years, the foundation of agriculture, but today we're 14:01:23.8 going the next level up. we're food, fiber and renewable fuels. three -- a third level now for agriculture. and i believe that the fuel component, the ethanol, the biodiesel, in particular, and the way we're able to run our animal fats back into 14:01:40.7 biodiesel. so now we've taken this next level, not just for energy, not just for fuel, but at the same time more biotech has moved agriculture up to another level to where we're really in the middle of science at the same time. 14:01:54.5 but i think that agriculture has gone from that level of food and fiber and it's taken the kind of quantum leap up into food, fiber, renewable fuel and biotech products, the same way that they took -- when we went into the industrial 14:02:14.6 revolution. those are huge, huge things we need to contemplate here. the efficiencies that's come into agriculture and technology. so today, and i have the privilege of representing one of the top ethanol production and biodiesel -- actually wind generation of electricity, 14:02:33.3 congressional districts in america. and i've watched that capital be invested. private capital last year invested over $1 billion in infrastructure to produce renewable energy in my 14:02:45.3 congressional district. one out of 45 congressional districts, mr. speaker. that's a huge investment, but it's also -- it says a lot about an industry that's been developed and an industry 14:02:56.7 that's growing. and it is making us less dependent on middle eastern oil. as we move into cellulosic and we're very confident that we can develop the technology to make cellulosic ethanol, that 14:03:13.2 opens up the production of cellulose that's not been used before. and it will produce a significant portion of our ethanol that will go, then, to reduce our dependency on middle 14:03:26.7 eastern gas. but that's the energy side of this. and i talk about the energy side a lot. and i would like to maybe stretch our minds a little bit on what can happen with the biotech side. what's happening with the biotech side? for example, there's biotech 14:03:43.6 research that recognizes that there are 25 million little babies in the world each year that die, that die unnecessarily due to the dehydration that's associated with diarrhea. 14:03:58.0 and if the component of mother's milk can get into that little baby, that little baby that's on its las gas, if we can put that in that baby within three to four days that baby has its health back, the vigor back and the baby is ready to go home with his 14:04:14.3 mother. well, we can't produce that by going to the mothers to extract it from their milk. but what we've done with biotech is spliced that gene into rice. so then when we harvest the 14:04:30.1 rice, we bring the rice back in and we extract the lactoferin from the rice and turn it into a little powder in a packet like maybe the sugar you put in your coffee. 14:04:45.0 you tear that, drop that in to a little vial of water, stir it up, warm it up, give it to that baby that would be dead in a few hours and that baby springs back to life. and in three or four days that baby is ready to go home. that's science and technology. 14:05:02.2 and today we can save the lives of six million babies on 60 acres of rice. and we're extracting that up in our neighborhood, not very far from the missouri river, i would add, mr. smith. it son my side, though, just as an asterisk. 14:05:21.4 that's the great things we're doing with science. another one is tripson, and that's a component that you find in your tears. as they wash across your eyeballs, it keeps your eyes from getting an infection in 14:05:36.1 them. so we've also learned how to synthesize tripson. and you see the pictures, especially in african and in poor countries of flies walking across the eyes of little eyeballs. 14:05:52.1 that's another piece of biotech science that's going on. another one -- and i would say, mr. speaker, this is the most impressive and fap t.s.a.ic development. and i'm going to call it agriculture -- fantastic development, and i'm going to call it agriculture. 14:06:08.3 this one is, i believe, the most impressive and has tremendous implications for all of humanity. and that is today we have -- spliced through transagainics and we can use it in the -- 14:06:30.1 transgenics and it goes on 1,000 times a day, but splice through the transgenics the human immune system to a hog. we're paying attention to those 14:06:42.4 things. but it happens at -- not very far from where i live. there's only one person in the country that is, at least for profit, bringing pigs by cesarean in -- for science. she's working out of virginia 14:07:02.9 tech university. and there they have spliced the immune -- the immune genetics from a baboon into that of a hog and raised that hog up until that hog was of adequate size that they can go in and 14:07:18.6 harvest the heart from that hog and transplant it into a back boon. now this is -- baboon. now this is an experiment. it lived for six months. now that was better than the 14:07:33.9 first human experiment. they're confident that they can transplant through transgenics this human immune system into a hog. and in doing so -- and we're only three fours or four years away from -- three years or four years away from doing this 14:07:50.8 successfully, they can rebuild the genetics -- there are 12 14:07:58.0 indicators, and they can put together those 12 major indicators so they have the highest possibility of organ acceptance on organ transplant. we will be able to very soon 14:08:13.1 custom raise human organs in hogs. and today we're using -- we're transplanting out of hogs ligaments, knee ligaments, mr. speaker, and also heart valves. we've done that for years. 14:08:27.0 the reason we can do it is cartilage and there's not a rejection factor for cartilage. we can raise in hogs 28 different organs, not just hearts but lungs, esophagus, bladder. 14:08:45.0 name your organ, except for the brain -- we don't plan to transplant the hog's brain in there. i think there are some folks in this congress that might have happened, mr. smith. but anyway, we will eliminate that organ. there are 28 organs we think we can utilize of transplanting 14:09:02.9 that from a hog into a human being. we've done that with heart valves. we can surely do that with other -- all the other organs. and one of the most important is skin transplants. the burn victims that we have. the burn victims we have coming back from irblinge, -- iraq, to 14:09:22.0 give them a new skin in a food lot, in a sterile, sterile environment. and the next step is to match your identical d.n.a., mr. speaker, so you can have your own customized hog there that has customized organs that 14:09:38.6 would be like your identical twin brother. two to three years on the first part of this, matching the d.n.a. chains exactly to take a sample, and raising those organs will happen will -- in about 12 to 15 years. 14:09:54.7 these are some of the things we can do in bioteches. and couple that with the renewable fuels, couple that with the tremendous production we've provided. at the same time we have more soil convery vation, more water conservation, better land 14:10:11.5 management, better processing and handling of our manure, for example. it is -- there's no better steward for the environment than the american farmer. no one cares more about their water quality, no one cares more about their air quality. they live right in the middle of that every day. 14:10:26.7 and they care about their land. they want to hand that along to the next generation and the next generation. the best stewards are the ones in charge. and they're in iowa, they're nebraska, they're all across the cornbelt, all across the soybean area. and they go coast to coast. this is a tremendous production 14:10:44.3 system that we have in the united states without standing -- with outstanding and impressive people who are committed to feeding the world. and we honor them today on ag week on the floor of the congress. 14:10:58.8 i appreciate the gentleman from nebraska for raising this issue and being here tonight and saying a few words. i yield back the balance of my time. mr. smith: i thank the gentleman from iowa, mr. king. i appreciate to the fact that you speak to the future as we look at so many aspects of 14:11:16.4 agriculture. i think sometimes we forget about the future and actually how far we've come. we have water challenges in nebraska, and it's interesting in the middle of a seven-year drought. i don't think enough credit is given to the better practices that have been engaged in 14:11:33.3 nebraska relating to irrigation that we're seeing record amounts of yields. record yields amidst 50% reduction in irrigation. and now there are also those critics out there, they tend to 14:11:49.5 be critical of the fact that there aren't return flows from the former flowing of irrigation, perhaps that many would consider waste. but it's interesting that as farmers become more and more efficient, they're also 14:12:06.1 criticized along the way. and i think that that is unfortunate. when you talk about energy, it's absolutely vital that we realize that even amidst corn prices that are strong, we have unprecedented cost of inputs, especially relating to energy. 14:12:21.4 whether it's the fertilizer or the diesel for the tractor. and that's what makes me nervous about these urges to regulate industry even more. it will drive up the cost. and not only electricity for 14:12:37.8 the consumer and their residence, but it will drive up the cost of energy as we see it on farms and ranches. and that will drive up the cost of food. plain and simple. and as i stated earlier, we've 14:12:53.9 come a long way in terms of producing food in an affordable format. i was reading through and i noticed part of the essay contest winner from the ag council of america, and this is the 2007 winner, latasha cote 14:13:12.6 from myrtle, missouri, couch high school. and students from seventh through 12th grade scommitted original essays about the importance of agriculture in the united states. and under the theme american 14:13:25.0 agriculture in 2025, students were encouraged to focus their essays on the potential landscape of american agriculture in 2025 based on where we are today and the opportunities that lie ahead. and ms. cote read her essays to members of congress, federal 14:13:40.5 agencies representatives, media and others in a celebration of agriculture. and let me share with you just an excerpt. and i quote. the alarm sounds off at about 8:00 a.m. a young man reaches over to turn it off, gets up, jumps in the shower, eats his breakfast 14:13:58.1 and then heads toward the milk barn. there is no rush to the cows because they've already been milked. he looks at the computer system to see how much milk given per second, the amount of butter 14:14:14.7 fat and tells the farmer the exact weight of the milk. wait, where's the reality check? well, there isn't one. this is only one example of how far the industry in all farms has come since the year of 2007. and i haven't had a chance to read the entire piece, but i 14:14:31.8 wanted to congratulate ms. cote and every student who submitted the essay in the contest. i think that it may be even sooner than 2025 when we see these things come about, but it's great to see young people looking to the future. 14:14:47.3 as we look at the big picture of agriculture, certainly globely we always think of trade and we think of -- i think the unfortunate situation with the closure of our beef, the rejection of our beef, in 14:15:02.1 many cases, to asia. but it does, i think, send a message to the larger issue of where we're -- where we are at with livestock in america. it's interesting that we do find ourselves with a bit of a shortage of grain to feed our 14:15:19.4 livestock. and as we try to address this shortage, certainly i think it can be best if the government stays out of the way. . but when i hear concerns of this in the livestock industry, 14:15:34.6 perhaps getting a little worried, it worries me, too, because the livestock industry has been absolutely crucial to the economies of rural america. and the fact that these economist are not appreciated 14:15:52.6 like they should be, it's to note how this has led to live strock operations having to become much larger. and as they become much larger, there is concern about the 14:16:08.6 livestock waste. and it was encouraging to me last year to see there was an understanding that we don't want policies to force the producer to get larger. we want them to have the options of getting larger, should they pursue that. 14:16:24.1 should they feel comfortable with their current status, that's fine, too. it's interesting, though, as we see large operators, small operators and medium-sized operators, we have to realize that i believe our fundamental responsibility is to create 14:16:42.5 opportunities. government can create opportunities, not through a check necessarily, but we can create policy opportunities so that the little guy has the option of getting larger and can prosper and pursue the economic dreams that they wish to. 14:16:59.9 and as the gentleman from iowa pointed out the fact that there are a lot of promising scenarios out there. as i go across the third district of nebraska and i visit operators, whether small or large, it is so encouraging to 14:17:14.1 see people engaged in the economy. and as they're engaged, whether it's at a beef cattle processing plant or a pork processing plant or an ethanol plant or whether they are creating biodiesel in 14:17:31.0 their garage, there is tremendous opportunity and i believe it's my responsibility to maybe not protect that opportunity, but to expand that. and to make sure that every producer, every taxpayer has that opportunity to grow. 14:17:47.1 and hopefully, make a greater living and the government won't take it away from them and they 14:17:53.8 can reapply that back into capital and back into the economy. if the gentleman from iowa would like to participate. mr. king: i thank the gentleman from nebraska for yielding. especially the young families and families that will be 14:18:08.3 raising their families on the farm and working in the towns, it occurs to me that we often don't discuss about entrepreneurial agriculture. and used to be that was all we had was entrepreneurial agriculture, the traditional 14:18:23.8 agriculture i grew up with and in the middle was fairly -- almost purely entrepreneurial. and yet, we went through the farm crisis in the 1980's. i lived for three and a halfiers with a knot in my gut wondering 14:18:39.3 if i was going to make it through from week to week and sometimes your identity of your life's work is what you do. i was in an agricultural-related business. the point i want to make is i saw this happen and i saw -- our 14:18:57.7 bank closed at 3:00,. and the red tag went on the door and the highway patrol guarded the doors and everybody's account was frozen. my account, and the accounts of 14:19:11.1 my customers and i had a payroll to meet and i had two pennies in my pocket. i could rub them together. and i did rub them together and think about the symbolism about what had happened. we had pretty good balance the agricultural operations going on 14:19:28.0 with a significant commitment to the livestock industry. and so we had croppers there raising soybeans and corner and cattle and hogs and turkey feeders. and as the bank figured out, the new owner of the bank, which was 14:19:44.3 identified over the weekend, began to take up the loan applications and the financial applications, now this is in the middle of prime corner planting time, to have your accounts shut down, your credit line shut down 14:19:59.2 and if you didn't have your inputs all purchased and delivered, no one knew if you had any credit, whether they would be paid or not or how it would unfold. what happened was, loan applicant after loan applicant that had been financed the day 14:20:15.2 before, lined up to get their applications reconsidered by the new owners. and the new owners took a look at those balance sheets and the list of assets and asked the question, where are we the most vulnerable? 14:20:28.5 where are we most likely to lose our money? that would be the livestock, because it can die. and what is the most liquid commodity that you have that you can turn it into cash? that would be the livestock. the livestock was loaded up and 14:20:48.0 hauled to slaughter and neighbor after neighbor was taken out of the livestock business. and then can see up so these same producers could stay in the row crop business and because of the programs we had and the risk 14:21:03.2 management tools that were in place then and we have better ones in place today, if they had a reasonable yield and not too much bad luck, they could stay in business for maybe another year. these balanced risk spread 14:21:19.7 operations became row crop operations. the livestock went on the truck and was shipped and so then went the equipment that was necessary to support the livestock. often the best combine was sold and maybe even the best truck or 14:21:37.4 pickup. it shrunk the operation down so they could stay in business. we lost the livestock tradition. and we're rebuilding that now and the industry has changed some. but the entrepreneurialism that 14:21:50.6 came with that, much of that disappeared at the same time, mr. speaker. and so what we need to have is people that can make a good living by taking risk. and by investing in new ideas and new approaches. livestock has been a traditional 14:22:07.0 approach and has been the mortgage lifter for years, especially the hog production has been the mortgage lifter. but to broaden that out and specialty crops today with the biotech industry i mentioned earlier or i happened to come 14:22:24.6 across four years ago during a political campaign, a family in my district that had 1,300 acres, presumably they were crop acres, but one of those 1,300 acres it was all corn except one 14:22:41.4 acre and it was set aside for what i call a glorified garden. they had six kids and they turned out development child 14:22:52.9 labor. but that single acre was only penciled out at $300 an acre. this single acre of this glorified garden, highly managed type of an operation produced $27,000 worth of crop of that 14:23:11.2 single acre. they might have put $40,000 worth of child labor, but they learned work ethic, managing and rotation and learned irrigation and weed management. but $27,000 per acre. so, when i found out about this 14:23:28.4 -- and i'm sure there are other similar stories out there -- it occurs to me someplace between that -- it's more than $300 an acre, on that day, about $300 an acre, versus $27,000 for that single acre of garden. 14:23:45.2 between those two are all kinds of alternatives that are there for the entrepreneurs. so if they want to go the route of a lot of labor and intense management and take on the labor and try to pull that $27,000 out 14:24:02.0 of that acre or race organic or specialty crops, all of these things need to be opened for the young producers and they will find their extra margin of profit. not so much raising program crops. 14:24:16.5 that's a baseline income that maintains the value of the land. put more management skill in, more labor in and raise these specialty crops, some of which i talked about and the or beganics. we will see young producers take that on and young people are 14:24:35.0 usually short of capital. what can they do? they've got more labor they can provide. they can do the work. i'm looking forward to watching and hoping to provide the tools for the young agricultural entrepreneurs in both the crop 14:24:50.7 and in the animal sciences, for them to develop high value commod its. and as they begin to feed the world, species after species, crop after crop. and we haven't gone anywhere near the surface of the things 14:25:07.2 we can do with biotech. one of the other points -- this is another scientific mind stretcher, and that is that about -- let's see, 32 years ago, there was a rare endangered species of an asian animal 14:25:29.4 called a gaur. and that animal was in the san diego zoo for years. it had gone down and looked like it was going to die. 14:25:40.1 the zoo keeper there took a punch out of the ear out of that gaur and froze it in liquid nitrogen and kept a piece of that year of that animal frozen 14:25:56.8 for 28 years. and they picked that up and they sent it, then, i'm going to say six years ago up to a lab in sioux city, iowa. there, the doctor took the 14:26:12.5 frozen piece of tissue and he cloned that gaur animal by implanting the nuke clee us of that that he could take from that cell and cloned it into the egg of a cow. and implanted that embryo into 14:26:30.1 the uterus of the cow, where this gaur, this rare animal, kind of looks like a yak, this gaure gaur had this animal. 14:26:50.0 about a year later, they shipped that animal back to the san diego zoo where he is walking around. that is a space age, star wars kind of a thing. if you think what we can do with 14:27:03.3 that kind of science and how we can improve our heards and improve productivity and the meat quality and the feed conversion factors, how we can reduce, eradicate and eliminate disease, how we can work with 14:27:19.1 all of that and at the same time opening up the fields so the agricultural producers across the country can continue and feed america is a very, very optimistic story. and i think we're in the best position right now in 14:27:35.8 agriculture than we have ever been in the history of the united states and in the history of the world. and i'm sorry i won't be around to see where it will take the next generation of humanity. but i wanted to express those things and i yield back to the 14:27:52.1 gentleman. mr. smith: as i wrap this up, i certainly want to thank the gentleman for really focusing on the future and the sky is the limit when we can focus on the benefits of agriculture and perhaps the things we take for 14:28:06.0 granted. as we talk about the future and younger generations engaging in agriculture, i find it unconscionable that the so-called debt tax or the estate tax would go back up to 55% and 14:28:24.5 that a subsequent generation on a farm or ranch would have to come up with cash to enhert that farm or ranch. that's sad, that's unamerican and its insensitive to taxpayers 14:28:39.7 and i think it has immense disregard for the future and the economic impact that that would have. i think too many people think that only certain departments of the grocery store really come from agriculture as we would 14:28:56.9 think of it. but the fact is, it's involved in health care, whether its pharmaceuticals, surgical suit yourself, ointments, latex gloves, capsules for heart valves or with construction, 14:29:13.2 lumber, paint, tar paper, other things and i could go on the list that would take much more time than i can consume here today. but the fact is, we've come a long way and we can go a lot further as we focus on 14:29:29.6 opportunities, as we look at the fact that we need each other. farmers need consumers, consumers need farmers. and in between those entities, there's opportunity, whether it's processing, whether it's research. 14:29:43.5 i think we can go a lot further than we have already come and as we look to the future. again, i would like to thank the agriculture council of america for providing a lot of this information and the very 14:30:01.8 hands-on approach that they take and look forward to working with them as i serve the people of the third district of nebraska. and as farmers of the third district of nebraska and farmers and ranchers continue to feed the world. thank you, mr. speaker. 14:30:28.0 the speaker pro tempore: under 14:30:43.5 the speaker's announced policy of january 18, 2007, the gentlewoman from florida, ms. wasserman schultz, is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader. ms. wasserman schultz: or 14:30:59.4 something like that, mr. speaker. i want to thank our speaker, nancy pelosi, and our entire democratic party to once again come to the floor and talk about the new direction of 14:31:15.1 america that we are humbled to be able to lead this country in. i november 7 of last year, the american people spoke loudly and clearly, mr. speaker, that it was imperative that we move this nation in a new direction on a variety of issues, the 14:31:36.2 least of which we're going in this war in iraq. and i'm so proud today to be able to stand here knowing that the vote i cast personally and 14:31:47.2 that the 217 other members that passed that legislation on this -- off this floor this afternoon cast so that we can now finally begin to ensure that our troops will have the armor that they need, the armor and the equipment that they 14:32:03.9 need, a plan to get them home, most importantly, and to ensure that we can begin to transition in iraq so that the iraqi people will be able to stand on their own, run their democracy and make sure that they can focus on solving the civil war 14:32:23.1 and the strive that is going on -- strife that is going on in the midst of their country. that is what we have been doing for them. what we are doing for them that we can no longer do is 14:32:36.1 inserting ourselves in the middle of their chaos without plans to be able to withdraw, without a single brigade of their army completely trained to stand on their own. 14:32:50.5 it is time and the american people have insisted that it is time to begin to move in the direction where we can shift the mission from combat to training, where we can focus our troops that will remain there by the end of next year on counterterrorism, on putting 14:33:07.7 down the insurgency and on making sure that the iraqi troops are well trained so that they can continue to move forward with their experiment in democracy. that is what the legislation that we passed today will do, and i'm so proud of our caucus and of our colleagues and of 14:33:24.4 our leadership for the work that we've done together for the unity that we showed, for the courage that so many of our colleagues showed, mr. speaker. we have a very diverse caucus, a very diverse group of democratic members who for a 14:33:42.2 variety of reasons, for a variety of soul searching, were able to come together from all of the different facets of the philosophical spectrum, to come together today and pass this extremely important 14:33:56.6 legislation. i'll tell you, mr. speaker, i've been in public office for 14 years. i've only served in the u.s. house of representatives for two years. that was one of the most emotional experiences and the most difficult experiences that i know i've gone through. and i cast that vote knowing 14:34:13.9 that i had the support of my constituents, knowing and confident that my constituents want to make sure that we can bring those iraqi -- bring those american troops home. i had an opportunity to travel and spend some time with our 14:34:29.9 troops at walter reed army medical center a few weeks ago on the resolution opposing the president's escalation proposal. and i said this the last few times, and we talked about this on the floor, mr. speaker. 14:34:44.3 i had a chance to speak to a number of different troops individually. one young man that's stayed with me, and i think i've thought about him and his family every single them. as a mom with little kids, i have 7-year-old twins and a 3-year-old little girl. 14:35:01.8 almost every major vote i cast i cast with them in mind. there is another generation of americans who we are going to protect from that vote that we cast today. and this young man who i had a chance to meet with had been from -- had just gotten home 14:35:19.1 from his third tour of duty. each was a year. his third tour. and his 6-year-old little boy was in the room, along with his wife. and his little boy was so excited and so -- you know, just so full of vibrancy and life and he was -- he shook my 14:35:36.1 hand and it was just so neat to be able to talk to him. and he told me that his daddy was finally going to be coming home for good, forever, in august. he had come down with a really inexplicable illness and was 14:35:53.6 convullessing at walter reed. and when the young man told me that he had been through his third tour of duty and his boy was 6, it was not lost on me that he had missed half of his son's life. 14:36:06.2 a 6-year-old little boy with his dad gone for three separate years. that is just unacceptable. that is not what the procedures are supposed to require of our men and women in uniform. there is supposed to be at least 365 days of noncombat 14:36:27.3 duty, in between tours. the legislation that we passed today will ensure that that will happen. the legislation that we passed today will ensure that we have -- that our troops have the equipment that they need. it will ensure that $1.7 14:36:41.3 billion in funding will provide the health care that our veterans need. you know, i listened to a lot of the speeches on the floor, almost all of them today. and what i continually heard -- what we continually heard from 14:36:56.5 our friends on the other side of the aisle was almost as if maybe they didn't read the bill, maybe they weren't paying attention. but more likely they were just being political. and i heard comments about how our legislation didn't provide 14:37:13.6 the equipment for the troops when up until now it's this president that has sent with the -- with the acknowledgment of the military leadership has sent our troops into harm's way without the proper training. 14:37:28.2 we have the least trained -- least prepared army that we've ever had at this point. spread as thin as they possibly could be spread. and then they have the nerve on the other side of the aisle to suggest that it is us that is not providing the protection 14:37:45.0 for our troops. that is ludicrous. i'm not sure whether they're 14:37:52.4 listening to their constituents at home or sit down with troops who have been in the line of duty. maybe they're listening with different ears, or maybe more likely they're listening with a different heart because the 14:38:04.8 heart that i listen with knows that we can't allow the pointless loss of human life anymore. not for our men and women in uniform. and not for the iraqi people who are also losing their lives in the midst of chaos. 14:38:20.6 if we're going to focus on the war on terror, we should be shifting our approach to the war in afghanistan where we provide a significant infusion of funding, badly needed funding so we can turn affings back around. 14:38:35.1 if you recall, mr. speaker, after the tragedy of 9/11 and we initially went in to respond to that tragedy, to stand up for america, we went into afghanistan, and we got rid of the taliban, and we made sure 14:38:52.6 that we could restore human rights in that country and restore the rights of women to go to school and to walk in public without a burka, and to really shine the light of freedom on a country that lived in darkness for decades. and instead this president and 14:39:10.3 this republican leadership shifted our focus, lost our purpose, lost their way, or gave up is really a better way to put it. and invaded iraq under false pretenses with -- provided this 14:39:27.2 congress, many of our colleagues who voted yes, relying on the information from this administration that it was out of necessity. this wasn't a war of necessity. this was a war of choice. 14:39:40.2 we don't have the luxury of going into wars of choice, mr. speaker, when we have wars of necessity like afghanistan, when we have a situation like we have in iran where we have a leader in that country who has threatened this -- the very existence of the state of 14:39:56.6 israel, our closest ally in the middle east, where we have nations in the middle east who truly want to succeed -- to see democracy fail. instead, we have created an inc. baitor for terrorism in -- 14:40:14.2 ink baitor for terrorism in iraq. i heard colleagues say that we were going to lose the war on terror if we passed this legislation today. well, the administration has made the war on terror worse, has made the likelihood of 14:40:29.9 being attacked greater by creating the cesspool that exists in that nation. and we must take the steps that the legislation that i proudly supported and that you proudly supported today, that that legislation will do so we can 14:40:47.2 put some benchmarks in place and just like the president said on january 10, so we can establish some benchmarks, make sure that the iraqi leadership meets those benchmarks, and if they don't, mr. speaker, then the blank check and the open-ended commitment to this 14:41:03.0 pointless war will end. and that is the direction that we are now moving in. and i'm pleased to be joined by my colleague and good friend, neighbor from the state of florida, my colleague, mr. kendrick meek. mr. meek: well, i can tell you, 14:41:18.6 congresswoman wulleds, it was a pleasure -- congresswoman wasserman schultz, it was a pleasure hearing you speak. mr. speaker, we were talking about what happened here on this floor less than two hours 14:41:32.4 ago. a major vote that took place here on this house, and it didn't pass by one or two votes. it only takes one vote to win as it relates to a bill or what have you, a resolution moving 14:41:51.6 through here. i have to say that i'm proud of the members that voted in the affirmative for this bill. this bill has started -- the emergency supplemental funding bill has started a new era as 14:42:06.8 it relates to how americans think about the war in iraq, how our troops are being treated in iraq and afghanistan and even here back at home on health care services. 14:42:21.1 and also it gave voice to those individuals that went to the voting booth looking for representation, looking for a new direction, looking for the congress to carry out the kind of oversight that we should carry out as members of congress, on behalf of any 14:42:38.0 action that will involve the american taxpayer and in many cases involve foreign nations investing -- well, loaning money to the united states of 14:42:50.6 america. we have to pay all of that back. we have to be accountable to the u.s. taxpayer, and we have to make sure that we provide the oversight for the american people. now i heard ms. wasserman 14:43:05.7 schultz speak to the point as some members came to the floor to vote against the bill -- some voted against the bill because they just -- that's just what they do. they vote against war, they vote against whatever their 14:43:20.7 philosophy may be as it relates to war. but also you had people that voted for the bill that's against war, that want to see an end to war. and no other emergency supplemental up until the one that came before this house 14:43:36.3 today actually put forth benchmarks for the iraqi government to meet, actually hold the feet, the fire of the executive branch saying if you are going to send additional troops, then the parameters you put on the iraqi government 14:43:51.5 will actually be enforced. the department of defense regulations as it relates to how troops can be deployed and the readiness of our troops before they go into theater, they wrote that in the department of defense, the 14:44:06.9 administrators, bureaucrats, the secretaries, what have you, the bush administration wrote those regulations. we put it inside this piece of legislation and enforced it. and also we made sure that members had opportunities to 14:44:24.5 show their constituents where they stand. now let's talk a little bit about that, because i heard ms. wasserman schultz mention something, well, folks coming to the floor, you know, never before in the history of the country that we've ever voted to micromanage and -- they used words like micromanage. 14:44:42.5 we've never came to the floor to limit anything as it relates to war. and when will we have a victory? and that's never, ever, ever, ever happened. i'm in my office, ms. wasserman schultz, and i'm watching these members on the floor. and i spoke to this point last 14:44:58.6 night, because last night i was here after 10:00, 10:30, actually closed the house last night, moved to adjourn the house last night, and i couldn't help but try to get the evidence to show that it has happened. 14:45:15.8 as a matter of fact, timelines have been set by the same very republican leaders that are now in the republican leadership right now that came to this well here today and had issue with what the majority of the 14:45:28.7 members of the house wanted to do and ultimately did in the vote. . mr. speaker, this is what our group is about, making sure that we shed light where it needs to be. 14:45:44.8 let's look at this. bosnia, june 24, 1997, the house brought to the floor an amendment that would set a time line and a date certain for withdrawal of u.s. peacekeepers from the mission in bosnia. 14:46:02.1 pay attention to these dates. on december 13, 1995, an attempt to prohibit funds from being used for the deployment of ground troops in bosnia. it actually failed 210-218, 14:46:20.2 which i have the names of those individuals that are in the republican leadership now voted in the affirmative to try to stop that from happening. december 13, 1995, a resolution 14:46:36.5 passed expressing serious concerns in opposition to the deployment of troops in bosnia, where ethnic cleansing was taking place. some of our same members in the republican leadership voted to 14:46:51.9 pass that piece of legislation. again, june -- there was also another vote that was taken on june 24, 1997, voted to set a time line, date certain for 14:47:09.1 withdrawal of troops from bosnia. and that passed 278-148. and the date certain that troops had to leave was june 30, 1998. i'm going to say it again. 14:47:24.8 some of the same individuals that voted today against the -- the reason for voting against this emergency supplemental for the men and women in arm's way and the veterans's health care voted for a time line in bosnia. 14:47:44.1 let's talk about the comparisons here. the bosnia conflict was 18 14:47:49.9 months, mr. speaker. this conflict is 48-plus months, moving well into its fifth year. the cost of bosnia to the united states of america? $7 billion. 14:48:04.2 the cost of the war in iraq. $379 billion and counting well beyond $379 billion, u.s. taxpayer dollars and loan money. casualties in bosnia, casualties 14:48:22.6 in bosnia, i repeat, zero of u.s. troops. zero. casualties as of 10:00 a.m. today in iraq of u.s. personnel, troops, men and women in 14:48:39.5 uniform, 3,229. i would even go further mr. speaker, 13,415 wounded in action and have returned to duty. and i would even go further by saying 10,772 wounded in action who cannot return back to duty. 14:48:58.1 i think it's important that we look at the facts. again, i want to say -- we didn't come down here to play around, but came down here to share the facts, because we're both busy people and we have things to do and this is the end 14:49:13.7 of the work week and members heading back to their districts. but we want to make sure that this moment of leadership, this moment of courage is in the congressional record to let it be known that we did have 14:49:29.1 members that stood up on behalf of our men and women in uniform, and we had the men and women of this house that were in the majority that were willing to put their name and their vote on the line on behalf of the men and women that serve our country and their families. 14:49:47.2 i have the vote sheet here from the bosnia vote. every republican voted yes for the time line, with the exception of two. it's right here. 14:50:00.1 any member who wants to run down to the floor and take a look at that, they can. also, we have here the vote as it relates to passing the -- for passing the resolution that we 14:50:15.5 had today, which is roll call vote. the emergency supplemental. roll call vote 186. i can't say for the two republicans who voted in opposite of the republican leadership, when we took the 14:50:33.1 vote in -- i mean on june 24, 1997, were consistent today of the only two republicans that voted in the affirmative with the majority of the house to make sure that we place benchmarks and a time line in 14:50:50.9 iraq. consistency for those two members that anyone can find in the congressional record. and we commend them for their consistency. i think it's important, ms. wasserman schultz when we look 14:51:05.7 at the facts and the tough votes that need to be taken. does everyone agrees that's in the emergency supplemental? i don't agree with everything that's in the emergency supplemental. but for the men and women, i voted for it. 14:51:19.7 there were members who had a rough time and it was a very tough vote for them, but they didn't want to continue to look in the eyes of their constituents as they go to high schools programs and junior high school programs and they're asked the question and i don't 14:51:37.9 ask people if you are a constituent of minor not, congressman, how long are we going to be in iraq? i can't answer the question, because the president says we're going to be there as long as we need to be there. 14:51:52.0 and guess what? those very same individuals, democrat, republican, independent, went last november and voted for a new direction, voted for an opportunity to have this congress stand in the position that it should be 14:52:08.6 standing and that's oversight and accountability on behalf of the men and women that are in harm's way. so i feel that the members that voted in the affirmative voted for outstanding health care, beginning to move in the direction of outstanding health 14:52:24.4 care for our veterans, making sure that our men and women, when they're deployed -- some of them are deployed 120 days when they return back to their families, because some bureaucrat in the defense 14:52:39.0 department says we have to make sure we keep our rotation and our troop numbers levels up to 143,000 troops on the ground. 14:52:49.5 i know this brigade has been home only for three months. we got to get them back into the fight when the department of defense regulations rule against that. since we're having a moment of clarity in this bill, it allows the president that if it's 14:53:06.6 within the national security interests that these troops go back into theater, he has the ability to do that, but report to congress on that action. if anyone says we are endangering the troops, the general can't do what he wants to do, that is nothing but 14:53:25.0 rhetoric and "talking points" with a crowd you may want to get a cheer out of based on where you are. but the reality and the hard core facts is we have been set up here to legislate and 14:53:39.3 oversight. the president is not the only person who can make decisions on accountability and oversight. the u.s. congress constitutionally and it's our duty. we don't wear the uniform. but we have been sent here to 14:53:54.4 make sure that things go the way they're supposed to go on behalf of the men and women in harm's way. i yield. ms. wasserman schultz: thank you very much, because i want to talk about the point you just made about the president making a decision that he thinks in the 14:54:12.3 national security interests. mr. speaker, this legislation provides benchmarks, the same benchmarks that this president came before the country and said were essential on january 10, that we have unit readiness, 14:54:27.3 that we have a -- well, we have benchmarks -- let me start again. we have two sets of benchmarks here. we have benchmarks that this democratic congress put in this legislation to make sure that we could protect our troops, to 14:54:41.6 make sure that we weren't sending them into harm's way unprepared. and we have benchmarks in this bill to ensure that the iraqis meet their obligations. and those obligations, those benchmarks are the same ones that the president indicated to 14:54:56.0 the american people were essential when he spoke to the nation on january 10. when this congress switched from republican to democrat after november 7, the main reason it happened is because the american people were sick and tired of being sick and tired. they had lost their confidence 14:55:11.9 in their government. their confidence in this congress was badly shaken. we had scandals, we had a culture of corruption, we had a situation where the american people couldn't believe that their congress was doing right on their behalf and that the 14:55:30.4 majority, republican at the time, was here for the right reasons. that's why there was the wholesale shift and we won 33 seats on november 7. we are exercising congress's 14:55:44.0 appropriate oversight role and reasserting the system of checks and balances that the founding fathers envisoned, particularly by putting language in this bill that ensures that the units have to be ready, they have to be 14:55:59.7 prepared. the chief of the military department has to determine that a unit is fully mission-capable before it is deployed to iraq. and the reason i wanted to interject during mr. meek's remarks is because, you 14:56:15.2 mentioned the president can certify to the congress that sending a unit into harm's way in iraq, in spite of the fact that they are not fully mission-capable, would be in the national interest. he is the commander in chief. 14:56:30.6 there is no question that the president is the commander in chief. but it is our responsibility as members of congress that we look out for the american people, specifically and especially in this case, our men and women in uniform who are going over to 14:56:46.7 defend this country. we provide the funding to send them over. we provide the funding to ensure that they are fully equipped and prepared. and the president should have to come back to us and say, in spite of the fact that these women and men are going over 14:57:02.5 there unprepared and not mission-capable, it's still in the national interest to send them. that is the least that he can do. he can maintain his role as commander of chief in this operation, but he has to make 14:57:16.3 sure that he is doing right by our troops and he has to own up what he's doing in this legislation. including the length of deployment. there's a department of defense policy that requires the department of defense to abide 14:57:32.0 by its current policy, which is that you shouldn't deploy a unit to iraq or any reason more than 365 days for the army and more than 210 days for the marines. the president in this legislation can waive that provision, too, but he has to 14:57:48.6 say that it's in the national interest to do so. to send troops on another tour with less than a year's rest, less than 210 days in the case of marines. again, he has to actually say to that young man, whose 14:58:06.8 six-year-old boy i met, it's ok to miss half your son's life, because we need you. it's in the national interest, instead of being able to sort of duck and cover and do it in a 14:58:22.4 clandestine way without the american people knowing and without him owing up to it. the time of deloit, it requires the defense department, the time between deployment is essential as well. 14:58:36.0 the president can waive that provision, but he has to say to the congress that it is in the national interest to do so. we also have benchmarks related to the iraqi people as well. by july 1, 2007, the president has to certify that iraq is 14:58:53.8 making meaningful and substantial progress in meeting political and military benchmarks, including militia disarmment program and a plan that equitably shares oil revenues among all iraqis. they are in the midst of a civil 14:59:10.4 war and killing each other over things like that. the president has to certify there is progress being made, otherwise, we're going to be there forever, with no independent in site and no pressure on the iraqi leadership 14:59:24.5 to get the job done. why would they feel the need to move in the direction of progress if they know that there is a never-ending, open-ended commitment for us to be there and for the money to keep 14:59:40.4 flowing. they have to achieve political and military benchmarks. by ock 1, 2007, the president has to certify that the iraqis have achieved military and political benchmarks and if he doesn't certify, u.s. troops will begin redeployment 14:59:57.8 completed by march, 2008. there are steps towards progress that the iraqi leadership must take or we're not going to continue to put our men and women in harm's way and we shouldn't. and finally, we need to -- eventually end our participation
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 1400-1500
HOUSE FLOOR DEBATE: The House meets for legislative business. Five One Minutes Per Side Last Vote expected 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. H.R. 1591 - U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans Health and Iraq Accountability Act (Rep. Obey - Appropriations) (Complete Consideration) 14:00:04.5 it together but mass production. and the industrial era we took to mass production raised the or standard of our living, raised the level of our technology dramatically. that was the industrial revolution. and then we came along into the information age where we 14:00:19.7 figured out with the invention of the microchip that we could store and transfer information faster and more efficiently than ever before. . and it took both the industrial era and the information age, took our society, took our culture to a higher level, a 14:00:39.5 quantum leap in our economy. well, agriculture has really sat here, and since the inception of agriculture, the first time that i think it was a cave woman planted some seeds outside the cave or recognized 14:00:53.1 that they were growing and they figured out how to cultivate crops thousands of years ago. what agriculture has done for thousands of years is produce food and fiber, produced it a lot better than ever before, more efficiently than ever 14:01:08.6 before, as mr. smith has articulated very well in our production capability. but it's still food and fiber. food and fiber for thousands of years, the foundation of agriculture, but today we're 14:01:23.8 going the next level up. we're food, fiber and renewable fuels. three -- a third level now for agriculture. and i believe that the fuel component, the ethanol, the biodiesel, in particular, and the way we're able to run our animal fats back into 14:01:40.7 biodiesel. so now we've taken this next level, not just for energy, not just for fuel, but at the same time more biotech has moved agriculture up to another level to where we're really in the middle of science at the same time. 14:01:54.5 but i think that agriculture has gone from that level of food and fiber and it's taken the kind of quantum leap up into food, fiber, renewable fuel and biotech products, the same way that they took -- when we went into the industrial 14:02:14.6 revolution. those are huge, huge things we need to contemplate here. the efficiencies that's come into agriculture and technology. so today, and i have the privilege of representing one of the top ethanol production and biodiesel -- actually wind generation of electricity, 14:02:33.3 congressional districts in america. and i've watched that capital be invested. private capital last year invested over $1 billion in infrastructure to produce renewable energy in my 14:02:45.3 congressional district. one out of 45 congressional districts, mr. speaker. that's a huge investment, but it's also -- it says a lot about an industry that's been developed and an industry 14:02:56.7 that's growing. and it is making us less dependent on middle eastern oil. as we move into cellulosic and we're very confident that we can develop the technology to make cellulosic ethanol, that 14:03:13.2 opens up the production of cellulose that's not been used before. and it will produce a significant portion of our ethanol that will go, then, to reduce our dependency on middle 14:03:26.7 eastern gas. but that's the energy side of this. and i talk about the energy side a lot. and i would like to maybe stretch our minds a little bit on what can happen with the biotech side. what's happening with the biotech side? for example, there's biotech 14:03:43.6 research that recognizes that there are 25 million little babies in the world each year that die, that die unnecessarily due to the dehydration that's associated with diarrhea. 14:03:58.0 and if the component of mother's milk can get into that little baby, that little baby that's on its las gas, if we can put that in that baby within three to four days that baby has its health back, the vigor back and the baby is ready to go home with his 14:04:14.3 mother. well, we can't produce that by going to the mothers to extract it from their milk. but what we've done with biotech is spliced that gene into rice. so then when we harvest the 14:04:30.1 rice, we bring the rice back in and we extract the lactoferin from the rice and turn it into a little powder in a packet like maybe the sugar you put in your coffee. 14:04:45.0 you tear that, drop that in to a little vial of water, stir it up, warm it up, give it to that baby that would be dead in a few hours and that baby springs back to life. and in three or four days that baby is ready to go home. that's science and technology. 14:05:02.2 and today we can save the lives of six million babies on 60 acres of rice. and we're extracting that up in our neighborhood, not very far from the missouri river, i would add, mr. smith. it son my side, though, just as an asterisk. 14:05:21.4 that's the great things we're doing with science. another one is tripson, and that's a component that you find in your tears. as they wash across your eyeballs, it keeps your eyes from getting an infection in 14:05:36.1 them. so we've also learned how to synthesize tripson. and you see the pictures, especially in african and in poor countries of flies walking across the eyes of little eyeballs. 14:05:52.1 that's another piece of biotech science that's going on. another one -- and i would say, mr. speaker, this is the most impressive and fap t.s.a.ic development. and i'm going to call it agriculture -- fantastic development, and i'm going to call it agriculture. 14:06:08.3 this one is, i believe, the most impressive and has tremendous implications for all of humanity. and that is today we have -- spliced through transagainics and we can use it in the -- 14:06:30.1 transgenics and it goes on 1,000 times a day, but splice through the transgenics the human immune system to a hog. we're paying attention to those 14:06:42.4 things. but it happens at -- not very far from where i live. there's only one person in the country that is, at least for profit, bringing pigs by cesarean in -- for science. she's working out of virginia 14:07:02.9 tech university. and there they have spliced the immune -- the immune genetics from a baboon into that of a hog and raised that hog up until that hog was of adequate size that they can go in and 14:07:18.6 harvest the heart from that hog and transplant it into a back boon. now this is -- baboon. now this is an experiment. it lived for six months. now that was better than the 14:07:33.9 first human experiment. they're confident that they can transplant through transgenics this human immune system into a hog. and in doing so -- and we're only three fours or four years away from -- three years or four years away from doing this 14:07:50.8 successfully, they can rebuild the genetics -- there are 12 14:07:58.0 indicators, and they can put together those 12 major indicators so they have the highest possibility of organ acceptance on organ transplant. we will be able to very soon 14:08:13.1 custom raise human organs in hogs. and today we're using -- we're transplanting out of hogs ligaments, knee ligaments, mr. speaker, and also heart valves. we've done that for years. 14:08:27.0 the reason we can do it is cartilage and there's not a rejection factor for cartilage. we can raise in hogs 28 different organs, not just hearts but lungs, esophagus, bladder. 14:08:45.0 name your organ, except for the brain -- we don't plan to transplant the hog's brain in there. i think there are some folks in this congress that might have happened, mr. smith. but anyway, we will eliminate that organ. there are 28 organs we think we can utilize of transplanting 14:09:02.9 that from a hog into a human being. we've done that with heart valves. we can surely do that with other -- all the other organs. and one of the most important is skin transplants. the burn victims that we have. the burn victims we have coming back from irblinge, -- iraq, to 14:09:22.0 give them a new skin in a food lot, in a sterile, sterile environment. and the next step is to match your identical d.n.a., mr. speaker, so you can have your own customized hog there that has customized organs that 14:09:38.6 would be like your identical twin brother. two to three years on the first part of this, matching the d.n.a. chains exactly to take a sample, and raising those organs will happen will -- in about 12 to 15 years. 14:09:54.7 these are some of the things we can do in bioteches. and couple that with the renewable fuels, couple that with the tremendous production we've provided. at the same time we have more soil convery vation, more water conservation, better land 14:10:11.5 management, better processing and handling of our manure, for example. it is -- there's no better steward for the environment than the american farmer. no one cares more about their water quality, no one cares more about their air quality. they live right in the middle of that every day. 14:10:26.7 and they care about their land. they want to hand that along to the next generation and the next generation. the best stewards are the ones in charge. and they're in iowa, they're nebraska, they're all across the cornbelt, all across the soybean area. and they go coast to coast. this is a tremendous production 14:10:44.3 system that we have in the united states without standing -- with outstanding and impressive people who are committed to feeding the world. and we honor them today on ag week on the floor of the congress. 14:10:58.8 i appreciate the gentleman from nebraska for raising this issue and being here tonight and saying a few words. i yield back the balance of my time. mr. smith: i thank the gentleman from iowa, mr. king. i appreciate to the fact that you speak to the future as we look at so many aspects of 14:11:16.4 agriculture. i think sometimes we forget about the future and actually how far we've come. we have water challenges in nebraska, and it's interesting in the middle of a seven-year drought. i don't think enough credit is given to the better practices that have been engaged in 14:11:33.3 nebraska relating to irrigation that we're seeing record amounts of yields. record yields amidst 50% reduction in irrigation. and now there are also those critics out there, they tend to 14:11:49.5 be critical of the fact that there aren't return flows from the former flowing of irrigation, perhaps that many would consider waste. but it's interesting that as farmers become more and more efficient, they're also 14:12:06.1 criticized along the way. and i think that that is unfortunate. when you talk about energy, it's absolutely vital that we realize that even amidst corn prices that are strong, we have unprecedented cost of inputs, especially relating to energy. 14:12:21.4 whether it's the fertilizer or the diesel for the tractor. and that's what makes me nervous about these urges to regulate industry even more. it will drive up the cost. and not only electricity for 14:12:37.8 the consumer and their residence, but it will drive up the cost of energy as we see it on farms and ranches. and that will drive up the cost of food. plain and simple. and as i stated earlier, we've 14:12:53.9 come a long way in terms of producing food in an affordable format. i was reading through and i noticed part of the essay contest winner from the ag council of america, and this is the 2007 winner, latasha cote 14:13:12.6 from myrtle, missouri, couch high school. and students from seventh through 12th grade scommitted original essays about the importance of agriculture in the united states. and under the theme american 14:13:25.0 agriculture in 2025, students were encouraged to focus their essays on the potential landscape of american agriculture in 2025 based on where we are today and the opportunities that lie ahead. and ms. cote read her essays to members of congress, federal 14:13:40.5 agencies representatives, media and others in a celebration of agriculture. and let me share with you just an excerpt. and i quote. the alarm sounds off at about 8:00 a.m. a young man reaches over to turn it off, gets up, jumps in the shower, eats his breakfast 14:13:58.1 and then heads toward the milk barn. there is no rush to the cows because they've already been milked. he looks at the computer system to see how much milk given per second, the amount of butter 14:14:14.7 fat and tells the farmer the exact weight of the milk. wait, where's the reality check? well, there isn't one. this is only one example of how far the industry in all farms has come since the year of 2007. and i haven't had a chance to read the entire piece, but i 14:14:31.8 wanted to congratulate ms. cote and every student who submitted the essay in the contest. i think that it may be even sooner than 2025 when we see these things come about, but it's great to see young people looking to the future. 14:14:47.3 as we look at the big picture of agriculture, certainly globely we always think of trade and we think of -- i think the unfortunate situation with the closure of our beef, the rejection of our beef, in 14:15:02.1 many cases, to asia. but it does, i think, send a message to the larger issue of where we're -- where we are at with livestock in america. it's interesting that we do find ourselves with a bit of a shortage of grain to feed our 14:15:19.4 livestock. and as we try to address this shortage, certainly i think it can be best if the government stays out of the way. . but when i hear concerns of this in the livestock industry, 14:15:34.6 perhaps getting a little worried, it worries me, too, because the livestock industry has been absolutely crucial to the economies of rural america. and the fact that these economist are not appreciated 14:15:52.6 like they should be, it's to note how this has led to live strock operations having to become much larger. and as they become much larger, there is concern about the 14:16:08.6 livestock waste. and it was encouraging to me last year to see there was an understanding that we don't want policies to force the producer to get larger. we want them to have the options of getting larger, should they pursue that. 14:16:24.1 should they feel comfortable with their current status, that's fine, too. it's interesting, though, as we see large operators, small operators and medium-sized operators, we have to realize that i believe our fundamental responsibility is to create 14:16:42.5 opportunities. government can create opportunities, not through a check necessarily, but we can create policy opportunities so that the little guy has the option of getting larger and can prosper and pursue the economic dreams that they wish to. 14:16:59.9 and as the gentleman from iowa pointed out the fact that there are a lot of promising scenarios out there. as i go across the third district of nebraska and i visit operators, whether small or large, it is so encouraging to 14:17:14.1 see people engaged in the economy. and as they're engaged, whether it's at a beef cattle processing plant or a pork processing plant or an ethanol plant or whether they are creating biodiesel in 14:17:31.0 their garage, there is tremendous opportunity and i believe it's my responsibility to maybe not protect that opportunity, but to expand that. and to make sure that every producer, every taxpayer has that opportunity to grow. 14:17:47.1 and hopefully, make a greater living and the government won't take it away from them and they 14:17:53.8 can reapply that back into capital and back into the economy. if the gentleman from iowa would like to participate. mr. king: i thank the gentleman from nebraska for yielding. especially the young families and families that will be 14:18:08.3 raising their families on the farm and working in the towns, it occurs to me that we often don't discuss about entrepreneurial agriculture. and used to be that was all we had was entrepreneurial agriculture, the traditional 14:18:23.8 agriculture i grew up with and in the middle was fairly -- almost purely entrepreneurial. and yet, we went through the farm crisis in the 1980's. i lived for three and a halfiers with a knot in my gut wondering 14:18:39.3 if i was going to make it through from week to week and sometimes your identity of your life's work is what you do. i was in an agricultural-related business. the point i want to make is i saw this happen and i saw -- our 14:18:57.7 bank closed at 3:00,. and the red tag went on the door and the highway patrol guarded the doors and everybody's account was frozen. my account, and the accounts of 14:19:11.1 my customers and i had a payroll to meet and i had two pennies in my pocket. i could rub them together. and i did rub them together and think about the symbolism about what had happened. we had pretty good balance the agricultural operations going on 14:19:28.0 with a significant commitment to the livestock industry. and so we had croppers there raising soybeans and corner and cattle and hogs and turkey feeders. and as the bank figured out, the new owner of the bank, which was 14:19:44.3 identified over the weekend, began to take up the loan applications and the financial applications, now this is in the middle of prime corner planting time, to have your accounts shut down, your credit line shut down 14:19:59.2 and if you didn't have your inputs all purchased and delivered, no one knew if you had any credit, whether they would be paid or not or how it would unfold. what happened was, loan applicant after loan applicant that had been financed the day 14:20:15.2 before, lined up to get their applications reconsidered by the new owners. and the new owners took a look at those balance sheets and the list of assets and asked the question, where are we the most vulnerable? 14:20:28.5 where are we most likely to lose our money? that would be the livestock, because it can die. and what is the most liquid commodity that you have that you can turn it into cash? that would be the livestock. the livestock was loaded up and 14:20:48.0 hauled to slaughter and neighbor after neighbor was taken out of the livestock business. and then can see up so these same producers could stay in the row crop business and because of the programs we had and the risk 14:21:03.2 management tools that were in place then and we have better ones in place today, if they had a reasonable yield and not too much bad luck, they could stay in business for maybe another year. these balanced risk spread 14:21:19.7 operations became row crop operations. the livestock went on the truck and was shipped and so then went the equipment that was necessary to support the livestock. often the best combine was sold and maybe even the best truck or 14:21:37.4 pickup. it shrunk the operation down so they could stay in business. we lost the livestock tradition. and we're rebuilding that now and the industry has changed some. but the entrepreneurialism that 14:21:50.6 came with that, much of that disappeared at the same time, mr. speaker. and so what we need to have is people that can make a good living by taking risk. and by investing in new ideas and new approaches. livestock has been a traditional 14:22:07.0 approach and has been the mortgage lifter for years, especially the hog production has been the mortgage lifter. but to broaden that out and specialty crops today with the biotech industry i mentioned earlier or i happened to come 14:22:24.6 across four years ago during a political campaign, a family in my district that had 1,300 acres, presumably they were crop acres, but one of those 1,300 acres it was all corn except one 14:22:41.4 acre and it was set aside for what i call a glorified garden. they had six kids and they turned out development child 14:22:52.9 labor. but that single acre was only penciled out at $300 an acre. this single acre of this glorified garden, highly managed type of an operation produced $27,000 worth of crop of that 14:23:11.2 single acre. they might have put $40,000 worth of child labor, but they learned work ethic, managing and rotation and learned irrigation and weed management. but $27,000 per acre. so, when i found out about this 14:23:28.4 -- and i'm sure there are other similar stories out there -- it occurs to me someplace between that -- it's more than $300 an acre, on that day, about $300 an acre, versus $27,000 for that single acre of garden. 14:23:45.2 between those two are all kinds of alternatives that are there for the entrepreneurs. so if they want to go the route of a lot of labor and intense management and take on the labor and try to pull that $27,000 out 14:24:02.0 of that acre or race organic or specialty crops, all of these things need to be opened for the young producers and they will find their extra margin of profit. not so much raising program crops. 14:24:16.5 that's a baseline income that maintains the value of the land. put more management skill in, more labor in and raise these specialty crops, some of which i talked about and the or beganics. we will see young producers take that on and young people are 14:24:35.0 usually short of capital. what can they do? they've got more labor they can provide. they can do the work. i'm looking forward to watching and hoping to provide the tools for the young agricultural entrepreneurs in both the crop 14:24:50.7 and in the animal sciences, for them to develop high value commod its. and as they begin to feed the world, species after species, crop after crop. and we haven't gone anywhere near the surface of the things 14:25:07.2 we can do with biotech. one of the other points -- this is another scientific mind stretcher, and that is that about -- let's see, 32 years ago, there was a rare endangered species of an asian animal 14:25:29.4 called a gaur. and that animal was in the san diego zoo for years. it had gone down and looked like it was going to die. 14:25:40.1 the zoo keeper there took a punch out of the ear out of that gaur and froze it in liquid nitrogen and kept a piece of that year of that animal frozen 14:25:56.8 for 28 years. and they picked that up and they sent it, then, i'm going to say six years ago up to a lab in sioux city, iowa. there, the doctor took the 14:26:12.5 frozen piece of tissue and he cloned that gaur animal by implanting the nuke clee us of that that he could take from that cell and cloned it into the egg of a cow. and implanted that embryo into 14:26:30.1 the uterus of the cow, where this gaur, this rare animal, kind of looks like a yak, this gaure gaur had this animal. 14:26:50.0 about a year later, they shipped that animal back to the san diego zoo where he is walking around. that is a space age, star wars kind of a thing. if you think what we can do with 14:27:03.3 that kind of science and how we can improve our heards and improve productivity and the meat quality and the feed conversion factors, how we can reduce, eradicate and eliminate disease, how we can work with 14:27:19.1 all of that and at the same time opening up the fields so the agricultural producers across the country can continue and feed america is a very, very optimistic story. and i think we're in the best position right now in 14:27:35.8 agriculture than we have ever been in the history of the united states and in the history of the world. and i'm sorry i won't be around to see where it will take the next generation of humanity. but i wanted to express those things and i yield back to the 14:27:52.1 gentleman. mr. smith: as i wrap this up, i certainly want to thank the gentleman for really focusing on the future and the sky is the limit when we can focus on the benefits of agriculture and perhaps the things we take for 14:28:06.0 granted. as we talk about the future and younger generations engaging in agriculture, i find it unconscionable that the so-called debt tax or the estate tax would go back up to 55% and 14:28:24.5 that a subsequent generation on a farm or ranch would have to come up with cash to enhert that farm or ranch. that's sad, that's unamerican and its insensitive to taxpayers 14:28:39.7 and i think it has immense disregard for the future and the economic impact that that would have. i think too many people think that only certain departments of the grocery store really come from agriculture as we would 14:28:56.9 think of it. but the fact is, it's involved in health care, whether its pharmaceuticals, surgical suit yourself, ointments, latex gloves, capsules for heart valves or with construction, 14:29:13.2 lumber, paint, tar paper, other things and i could go on the list that would take much more time than i can consume here today. but the fact is, we've come a long way and we can go a lot further as we focus on 14:29:29.6 opportunities, as we look at the fact that we need each other. farmers need consumers, consumers need farmers. and in between those entities, there's opportunity, whether it's processing, whether it's research. 14:29:43.5 i think we can go a lot further than we have already come and as we look to the future. again, i would like to thank the agriculture council of america for providing a lot of this information and the very 14:30:01.8 hands-on approach that they take and look forward to working with them as i serve the people of the third district of nebraska. and as farmers of the third district of nebraska and farmers and ranchers continue to feed the world. thank you, mr. speaker. 14:30:28.0 the speaker pro tempore: under 14:30:43.5 the speaker's announced policy of january 18, 2007, the gentlewoman from florida, ms. wasserman schultz, is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader. ms. wasserman schultz: or 14:30:59.4 something like that, mr. speaker. i want to thank our speaker, nancy pelosi, and our entire democratic party to once again come to the floor and talk about the new direction of 14:31:15.1 america that we are humbled to be able to lead this country in. i november 7 of last year, the american people spoke loudly and clearly, mr. speaker, that it was imperative that we move this nation in a new direction on a variety of issues, the 14:31:36.2 least of which we're going in this war in iraq. and i'm so proud today to be able to stand here knowing that the vote i cast personally and 14:31:47.2 that the 217 other members that passed that legislation on this -- off this floor this afternoon cast so that we can now finally begin to ensure that our troops will have the armor that they need, the armor and the equipment that they 14:32:03.9 need, a plan to get them home, most importantly, and to ensure that we can begin to transition in iraq so that the iraqi people will be able to stand on their own, run their democracy and make sure that they can focus on solving the civil war 14:32:23.1 and the strive that is going on -- strife that is going on in the midst of their country. that is what we have been doing for them. what we are doing for them that we can no longer do is 14:32:36.1 inserting ourselves in the middle of their chaos without plans to be able to withdraw, without a single brigade of their army completely trained to stand on their own. 14:32:50.5 it is time and the american people have insisted that it is time to begin to move in the direction where we can shift the mission from combat to training, where we can focus our troops that will remain there by the end of next year on counterterrorism, on putting 14:33:07.7 down the insurgency and on making sure that the iraqi troops are well trained so that they can continue to move forward with their experiment in democracy. that is what the legislation that we passed today will do, and i'm so proud of our caucus and of our colleagues and of 14:33:24.4 our leadership for the work that we've done together for the unity that we showed, for the courage that so many of our colleagues showed, mr. speaker. we have a very diverse caucus, a very diverse group of democratic members who for a 14:33:42.2 variety of reasons, for a variety of soul searching, were able to come together from all of the different facets of the philosophical spectrum, to come together today and pass this extremely important 14:33:56.6 legislation. i'll tell you, mr. speaker, i've been in public office for 14 years. i've only served in the u.s. house of representatives for two years. that was one of the most emotional experiences and the most difficult experiences that i know i've gone through. and i cast that vote knowing 14:34:13.9 that i had the support of my constituents, knowing and confident that my constituents want to make sure that we can bring those iraqi -- bring those american troops home. i had an opportunity to travel and spend some time with our 14:34:29.9 troops at walter reed army medical center a few weeks ago on the resolution opposing the president's escalation proposal. and i said this the last few times, and we talked about this on the floor, mr. speaker. 14:34:44.3 i had a chance to speak to a number of different troops individually. one young man that's stayed with me, and i think i've thought about him and his family every single them. as a mom with little kids, i have 7-year-old twins and a 3-year-old little girl. 14:35:01.8 almost every major vote i cast i cast with them in mind. there is another generation of americans who we are going to protect from that vote that we cast today. and this young man who i had a chance to meet with had been from -- had just gotten home 14:35:19.1 from his third tour of duty. each was a year. his third tour. and his 6-year-old little boy was in the room, along with his wife. and his little boy was so excited and so -- you know, just so full of vibrancy and life and he was -- he shook my 14:35:36.1 hand and it was just so neat to be able to talk to him. and he told me that his daddy was finally going to be coming home for good, forever, in august. he had come down with a really inexplicable illness and was 14:35:53.6 convullessing at walter reed. and when the young man told me that he had been through his third tour of duty and his boy was 6, it was not lost on me that he had missed half of his son's life. 14:36:06.2 a 6-year-old little boy with his dad gone for three separate years. that is just unacceptable. that is not what the procedures are supposed to require of our men and women in uniform. there is supposed to be at least 365 days of noncombat 14:36:27.3 duty, in between tours. the legislation that we passed today will ensure that that will happen. the legislation that we passed today will ensure that we have -- that our troops have the equipment that they need. it will ensure that $1.7 14:36:41.3 billion in funding will provide the health care that our veterans need. you know, i listened to a lot of the speeches on the floor, almost all of them today. and what i continually heard -- what we continually heard from 14:36:56.5 our friends on the other side of the aisle was almost as if maybe they didn't read the bill, maybe they weren't paying attention. but more likely they were just being political. and i heard comments about how our legislation didn't provide 14:37:13.6 the equipment for the troops when up until now it's this president that has sent with the -- with the acknowledgment of the military leadership has sent our troops into harm's way without the proper training. 14:37:28.2 we have the least trained -- least prepared army that we've ever had at this point. spread as thin as they possibly could be spread. and then they have the nerve on the other side of the aisle to suggest that it is us that is not providing the protection 14:37:45.0 for our troops. that is ludicrous. i'm not sure whether they're 14:37:52.4 listening to their constituents at home or sit down with troops who have been in the line of duty. maybe they're listening with different ears, or maybe more likely they're listening with a different heart because the 14:38:04.8 heart that i listen with knows that we can't allow the pointless loss of human life anymore. not for our men and women in uniform. and not for the iraqi people who are also losing their lives in the midst of chaos. 14:38:20.6 if we're going to focus on the war on terror, we should be shifting our approach to the war in afghanistan where we provide a significant infusion of funding, badly needed funding so we can turn affings back around. 14:38:35.1 if you recall, mr. speaker, after the tragedy of 9/11 and we initially went in to respond to that tragedy, to stand up for america, we went into afghanistan, and we got rid of the taliban, and we made sure 14:38:52.6 that we could restore human rights in that country and restore the rights of women to go to school and to walk in public without a burka, and to really shine the light of freedom on a country that lived in darkness for decades. and instead this president and 14:39:10.3 this republican leadership shifted our focus, lost our purpose, lost their way, or gave up is really a better way to put it. and invaded iraq under false pretenses with -- provided this 14:39:27.2 congress, many of our colleagues who voted yes, relying on the information from this administration that it was out of necessity. this wasn't a war of necessity. this was a war of choice. 14:39:40.2 we don't have the luxury of going into wars of choice, mr. speaker, when we have wars of necessity like afghanistan, when we have a situation like we have in iran where we have a leader in that country who has threatened this -- the very existence of the state of 14:39:56.6 israel, our closest ally in the middle east, where we have nations in the middle east who truly want to succeed -- to see democracy fail. instead, we have created an inc. baitor for terrorism in -- 14:40:14.2 ink baitor for terrorism in iraq. i heard colleagues say that we were going to lose the war on terror if we passed this legislation today. well, the administration has made the war on terror worse, has made the likelihood of 14:40:29.9 being attacked greater by creating the cesspool that exists in that nation. and we must take the steps that the legislation that i proudly supported and that you proudly supported today, that that legislation will do so we can 14:40:47.2 put some benchmarks in place and just like the president said on january 10, so we can establish some benchmarks, make sure that the iraqi leadership meets those benchmarks, and if they don't, mr. speaker, then the blank check and the open-ended commitment to this 14:41:03.0 pointless war will end. and that is the direction that we are now moving in. and i'm pleased to be joined by my colleague and good friend, neighbor from the state of florida, my colleague, mr. kendrick meek. mr. meek: well, i can tell you, 14:41:18.6 congresswoman wulleds, it was a pleasure -- congresswoman wasserman schultz, it was a pleasure hearing you speak. mr. speaker, we were talking about what happened here on this floor less than two hours 14:41:32.4 ago. a major vote that took place here on this house, and it didn't pass by one or two votes. it only takes one vote to win as it relates to a bill or what have you, a resolution moving 14:41:51.6 through here. i have to say that i'm proud of the members that voted in the affirmative for this bill. this bill has started -- the emergency supplemental funding bill has started a new era as 14:42:06.8 it relates to how americans think about the war in iraq, how our troops are being treated in iraq and afghanistan and even here back at home on health care services. 14:42:21.1 and also it gave voice to those individuals that went to the voting booth looking for representation, looking for a new direction, looking for the congress to carry out the kind of oversight that we should carry out as members of congress, on behalf of any 14:42:38.0 action that will involve the american taxpayer and in many cases involve foreign nations investing -- well, loaning money to the united states of 14:42:50.6 america. we have to pay all of that back. we have to be accountable to the u.s. taxpayer, and we have to make sure that we provide the oversight for the american people. now i heard ms. wasserman 14:43:05.7 schultz speak to the point as some members came to the floor to vote against the bill -- some voted against the bill because they just -- that's just what they do. they vote against war, they vote against whatever their 14:43:20.7 philosophy may be as it relates to war. but also you had people that voted for the bill that's against war, that want to see an end to war. and no other emergency supplemental up until the one that came before this house 14:43:36.3 today actually put forth benchmarks for the iraqi government to meet, actually hold the feet, the fire of the executive branch saying if you are going to send additional troops, then the parameters you put on the iraqi government 14:43:51.5 will actually be enforced. the department of defense regulations as it relates to how troops can be deployed and the readiness of our troops before they go into theater, they wrote that in the department of defense, the 14:44:06.9 administrators, bureaucrats, the secretaries, what have you, the bush administration wrote those regulations. we put it inside this piece of legislation and enforced it. and also we made sure that members had opportunities to 14:44:24.5 show their constituents where they stand. now let's talk a little bit about that, because i heard ms. wasserman schultz mention something, well, folks coming to the floor, you know, never before in the history of the country that we've ever voted to micromanage and -- they used words like micromanage. 14:44:42.5 we've never came to the floor to limit anything as it relates to war. and when will we have a victory? and that's never, ever, ever, ever happened. i'm in my office, ms. wasserman schultz, and i'm watching these members on the floor. and i spoke to this point last 14:44:58.6 night, because last night i was here after 10:00, 10:30, actually closed the house last night, moved to adjourn the house last night, and i couldn't help but try to get the evidence to show that it has happened. 14:45:15.8 as a matter of fact, timelines have been set by the same very republican leaders that are now in the republican leadership right now that came to this well here today and had issue with what the majority of the 14:45:28.7 members of the house wanted to do and ultimately did in the vote. . mr. speaker, this is what our group is about, making sure that we shed light where it needs to be. 14:45:44.8 let's look at this. bosnia, june 24, 1997, the house brought to the floor an amendment that would set a time line and a date certain for withdrawal of u.s. peacekeepers from the mission in bosnia. 14:46:02.1 pay attention to these dates. on december 13, 1995, an attempt to prohibit funds from being used for the deployment of ground troops in bosnia. it actually failed 210-218, 14:46:20.2 which i have the names of those individuals that are in the republican leadership now voted in the affirmative to try to stop that from happening. december 13, 1995, a resolution 14:46:36.5 passed expressing serious concerns in opposition to the deployment of troops in bosnia, where ethnic cleansing was taking place. some of our same members in the republican leadership voted to 14:46:51.9 pass that piece of legislation. again, june -- there was also another vote that was taken on june 24, 1997, voted to set a time line, date certain for 14:47:09.1 withdrawal of troops from bosnia. and that passed 278-148. and the date certain that troops had to leave was june 30, 1998. i'm going to say it again. 14:47:24.8 some of the same individuals that voted today against the -- the reason for voting against this emergency supplemental for the men and women in arm's way and the veterans's health care voted for a time line in bosnia. 14:47:44.1 let's talk about the comparisons here. the bosnia conflict was 18 14:47:49.9 months, mr. speaker. this conflict is 48-plus months, moving well into its fifth year. the cost of bosnia to the united states of america? $7 billion. 14:48:04.2 the cost of the war in iraq. $379 billion and counting well beyond $379 billion, u.s. taxpayer dollars and loan money. casualties in bosnia, casualties 14:48:22.6 in bosnia, i repeat, zero of u.s. troops. zero. casualties as of 10:00 a.m. today in iraq of u.s. personnel, troops, men and women in 14:48:39.5 uniform, 3,229. i would even go further mr. speaker, 13,415 wounded in action and have returned to duty. and i would even go further by saying 10,772 wounded in action who cannot return back to duty. 14:48:58.1 i think it's important that we look at the facts. again, i want to say -- we didn't come down here to play around, but came down here to share the facts, because we're both busy people and we have things to do and this is the end 14:49:13.7 of the work week and members heading back to their districts. but we want to make sure that this moment of leadership, this moment of courage is in the congressional record to let it be known that we did have 14:49:29.1 members that stood up on behalf of our men and women in uniform, and we had the men and women of this house that were in the majority that were willing to put their name and their vote on the line on behalf of the men and women that serve our country and their families. 14:49:47.2 i have the vote sheet here from the bosnia vote. every republican voted yes for the time line, with the exception of two. it's right here. 14:50:00.1 any member who wants to run down to the floor and take a look at that, they can. also, we have here the vote as it relates to passing the -- for passing the resolution that we 14:50:15.5 had today, which is roll call vote. the emergency supplemental. roll call vote 186. i can't say for the two republicans who voted in opposite of the republican leadership, when we took the 14:50:33.1 vote in -- i mean on june 24, 1997, were consistent today of the only two republicans that voted in the affirmative with the majority of the house to make sure that we place benchmarks and a time line in 14:50:50.9 iraq. consistency for those two members that anyone can find in the congressional record. and we commend them for their consistency. i think it's important, ms. wasserman schultz when we look 14:51:05.7 at the facts and the tough votes that need to be taken. does everyone agrees that's in the emergency supplemental? i don't agree with everything that's in the emergency supplemental. but for the men and women, i voted for it. 14:51:19.7 there were members who had a rough time and it was a very tough vote for them, but they didn't want to continue to look in the eyes of their constituents as they go to high schools programs and junior high school programs and they're asked the question and i don't 14:51:37.9 ask people if you are a constituent of minor not, congressman, how long are we going to be in iraq? i can't answer the question, because the president says we're going to be there as long as we need to be there. 14:51:52.0 and guess what? those very same individuals, democrat, republican, independent, went last november and voted for a new direction, voted for an opportunity to have this congress stand in the position that it should be 14:52:08.6 standing and that's oversight and accountability on behalf of the men and women that are in harm's way. so i feel that the members that voted in the affirmative voted for outstanding health care, beginning to move in the direction of outstanding health 14:52:24.4 care for our veterans, making sure that our men and women, when they're deployed -- some of them are deployed 120 days when they return back to their families, because some bureaucrat in the defense 14:52:39.0 department says we have to make sure we keep our rotation and our troop numbers levels up to 143,000 troops on the ground. 14:52:49.5 i know this brigade has been home only for three months. we got to get them back into the fight when the department of defense regulations rule against that. since we're having a moment of clarity in this bill, it allows the president that if it's 14:53:06.6 within the national security interests that these troops go back into theater, he has the ability to do that, but report to congress on that action. if anyone says we are endangering the troops, the general can't do what he wants to do, that is nothing but 14:53:25.0 rhetoric and "talking points" with a crowd you may want to get a cheer out of based on where you are. but the reality and the hard core facts is we have been set up here to legislate and 14:53:39.3 oversight. the president is not the only person who can make decisions on accountability and oversight. the u.s. congress constitutionally and it's our duty. we don't wear the uniform. but we have been sent here to 14:53:54.4 make sure that things go the way they're supposed to go on behalf of the men and women in harm's way. i yield. ms. wasserman schultz: thank you very much, because i want to talk about the point you just made about the president making a decision that he thinks in the 14:54:12.3 national security interests. mr. speaker, this legislation provides benchmarks, the same benchmarks that this president came before the country and said were essential on january 10, that we have unit readiness, 14:54:27.3 that we have a -- well, we have benchmarks -- let me start again. we have two sets of benchmarks here. we have benchmarks that this democratic congress put in this legislation to make sure that we could protect our troops, to 14:54:41.6 make sure that we weren't sending them into harm's way unprepared. and we have benchmarks in this bill to ensure that the iraqis meet their obligations. and those obligations, those benchmarks are the same ones that the president indicated to 14:54:56.0 the american people were essential when he spoke to the nation on january 10. when this congress switched from republican to democrat after november 7, the main reason it happened is because the american people were sick and tired of being sick and tired. they had lost their confidence 14:55:11.9 in their government. their confidence in this congress was badly shaken. we had scandals, we had a culture of corruption, we had a situation where the american people couldn't believe that their congress was doing right on their behalf and that the 14:55:30.4 majority, republican at the time, was here for the right reasons. that's why there was the wholesale shift and we won 33 seats on november 7. we are exercising congress's 14:55:44.0 appropriate oversight role and reasserting the system of checks and balances that the founding fathers envisoned, particularly by putting language in this bill that ensures that the units have to be ready, they have to be 14:55:59.7 prepared. the chief of the military department has to determine that a unit is fully mission-capable before it is deployed to iraq. and the reason i wanted to interject during mr. meek's remarks is because, you 14:56:15.2 mentioned the president can certify to the congress that sending a unit into harm's way in iraq, in spite of the fact that they are not fully mission-capable, would be in the national interest. he is the commander in chief. 14:56:30.6 there is no question that the president is the commander in chief. but it is our responsibility as members of congress that we look out for the american people, specifically and especially in this case, our men and women in uniform who are going over to 14:56:46.7 defend this country. we provide the funding to send them over. we provide the funding to ensure that they are fully equipped and prepared. and the president should have to come back to us and say, in spite of the fact that these women and men are going over 14:57:02.5 there unprepared and not mission-capable, it's still in the national interest to send them. that is the least that he can do. he can maintain his role as commander of chief in this operation, but he has to make 14:57:16.3 sure that he is doing right by our troops and he has to own up what he's doing in this legislation. including the length of deployment. there's a department of defense policy that requires the department of defense to abide 14:57:32.0 by its current policy, which is that you shouldn't deploy a unit to iraq or any reason more than 365 days for the army and more than 210 days for the marines. the president in this legislation can waive that provision, too, but he has to 14:57:48.6 say that it's in the national interest to do so. to send troops on another tour with less than a year's rest, less than 210 days in the case of marines. again, he has to actually say to that young man, whose 14:58:06.8 six-year-old boy i met, it's ok to miss half your son's life, because we need you. it's in the national interest, instead of being able to sort of duck and cover and do it in a 14:58:22.4 clandestine way without the american people knowing and without him owing up to it. the time of deloit, it requires the defense department, the time between deployment is essential as well. 14:58:36.0 the president can waive that provision, but he has to say to the congress that it is in the national interest to do so. we also have benchmarks related to the iraqi people as well. by july 1, 2007, the president has to certify that iraq is 14:58:53.8 making meaningful and substantial progress in meeting political and military benchmarks, including militia disarmment program and a plan that equitably shares oil revenues among all iraqis. they are in the midst of a civil 14:59:10.4 war and killing each other over things like that. the president has to certify there is progress being made, otherwise, we're going to be there forever, with no independent in site and no pressure on the iraqi leadership 14:59:24.5 to get the job done. why would they feel the need to move in the direction of progress if they know that there is a never-ending, open-ended commitment for us to be there and for the money to keep 14:59:40.4 flowing. they have to achieve political and military benchmarks. by ock 1, 2007, the president has to certify that the iraqis have achieved military and political benchmarks and if he doesn't certify, u.s. troops will begin redeployment 14:59:57.8 completed by march, 2008. there are steps towards progress that the iraqi leadership must take or we're not going to continue to put our men and women in harm's way and we shouldn't. and finally, we need to -- eventually end our participation
BARACK OBAMA NEWS CONFERENCE - STIX
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA HOLDS A NEWS CONFERENCE IN THE BRIEFING ROOM AT THE WHITE HOUSE FS37X73 STIX / HEADON President Barack Obama press conference DC SLUG: 1515 WH PRESSER STIX FS37 73 AR: 16x9 NYRS: WASH-3 15:35:33 OBAMA Hello, everybody. In a couple hours, I'll be departing on my final foreign trip as president and while we're abroad I'll have a chance to take a few of your questions but I figured why wait? I know there's a lot of domestic issues that people are thinking about so I wanted to see if I could clear out some of the underbrush so that when we're overseas and people are asking about foreign policy questions, people don't feel obliged to tack on three other questions to them. Let me - I know you still will, yes. (LAUGHTER) That I'm aware, but I'm trying something out here. First of all, let me mention three brief topics. First of all, as I discussed with the president-elect on Thursday, my team stands ready to accelerate in the next steps that are required to ensure a smooth transition and we are going to be staying in touch as we travel. I remember what it was like when I came in eight years ago. It is a big challenge. This office is bigger than any one person and that's why ensuring a smooth transition is so important. It's not something that the constitution explicitly requires but it is one of those norms that are vital to a functioning democracy, similar to norms of civility and tolerance and a commitment to reason and facts and analysis. It's part of what makes this country work and as long as I'm president, we are going to uphold those norms and cherish and uphold those ideals. As I told my staff, we should be very proud that their work has already ensured that when we turn over the keys, the car's in pretty good shape. We are indisputably in a stronger position today than we were when I came in eight years ago. Jobs have been growing for 73 straight months, incomes are rising, poverty is falling, the uninsured rate is at the lowest level on record, carbon emissions have come down without impinging on our growth, and so my instructions to my team are that we run through the tape, we make sure that we finish what we started, that we don't let up in these last couple of months because my goal is on January 21, America's in the strongest position possible and hopefully there's an opportunity for the next president to build on that. 15:38:03 Number two, our work has also helped to stabilize the global economy and because there is one president at a time, I'll spend this week reinforcing America's support for the approaches that we've taken to promote economic growth and global security on a range of issues. I look forward to my first visit in Greece and then in Germany I'll visit with Chancellor Merkel who's probably been my closest international partner these past eight years. I'll also signal our solidarity with our closest allies and express our support for a strong, integrated, and united Europe. It is essential to our national security and it's essential to global stability and that's why the trans-atlantic alliance and the NATO alliance have endured for decades under Democratic and Republican administrations. Finally, in Peru, I'll meet with leaders of countries that have been the focus of our foreign policy through our rebalance in the Asia-Pacific. This is a time of great change in the world but America's always been a pillar of strength and a beacon of hope to peoples around the globe and that's what it must continue to be. 15:39:11 Finally, on a personal note, Michelle and I want to offer our deepest condolences to Gwen Ifill's family and all of you, her colleagues, on her passing. Gwen was a friend of ours, she was an extraordinary journalist, she always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable, and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work. I always appreciated Gwen's reporting even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews. OBAMA: Whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator's table or at the anchor's desk, she not only informed today's citizens but she also inspired tomorrow's journalists. She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, her tenacity and her intellect. And for whom she blazed a trail, as one half of the first all-female anchor team on network news. So Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today. So with that, I'm going to take some questions, and because Josh Earnest has some pull around here, he just happens to put at the top of the list, Colleen Nelson, of the Wall Street Journal, my understanding is, Colleen, that this is wrapping up your stint here and you are going to Kansas City. Josh just happens to be from Kansas City. (LAUGHTER) SO I didn't know if there was any coincidence there, but we wish you the very best of luck in your new endeavor. QUESTION: As it turns out it's a really great place (inaudible). OBAMA: There you go. QUESTION: You're about to embark on a foreign trip. What will you say to other world leaders about your successor? They may press opinions(?) assuming you have about Donald Trump. Should they be worried about the future of U.S. foreign policy. And separately, as Democrats scramble to regroup after a pretty shocking upset, what is your advice about where the party goes now and who should lead you party? 15:41:27 OBAMA: One of the great things about the United States is that when it comes to world affairs, the president obviously is the leader of the Executive Branch, the Commander-in-Chief, the spokesperson for the nation, but the influence and the work that we have is the result not just of the president, it is the result of countless interactions and arrangements and relationships between our military and other militaries, and our diplomats and other diplomats, the intelligence officers and development workers. And there is enormous continuity beneath the day-to-day news that makes us that indispensable nation when it comes to maintaining order and promoting prosperity around the world. That will continue. In my conversation with the president-elect he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships, and so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Trans Atlantic Alliance. I think that's one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage during this trip is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America's commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship and a recognition that those alliances aren't just good for Europe. They are good for the United States and they are vital for the world. 15:43:17 With respect to the Democratic Party. As I said in the Rose Garden right after the election, "When your team loses, everybody gets deflated. And it's hard, and it's challenging. And I think it's a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to go through some reflection. I think it's important for me not to be big-footing that conversation. I think we want to see new voices and new ideas emerge - that's part of the reason why term limits are a really useful thing. The Democrats should not waiver on our core beliefs and principles. The belief that we should have an economy that works for everybody, not just a few. The belief that America at its best is inclusive and not exclusive. That we insist on the dignity and God- given potential and work of every child, regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or what zip code they were born in. That we are committed to a world in which we keep America safe, but we recognize that our power doesn't just flow from our extraordinary military but also flows from the strength in our ideals and our principles and our values. So there are gonna be a core set of values that shouldn't be up for debate. Should be our north star. But how we organize politically, I think is something that we should spend some time thinking about. I believe that we have better ideas. But I also believe that good ideas don't matter if people don't hear them. And one of the issues the Democrats have to be clear on is the given population distribution across the country. We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. We have to work at a grassroots level, something that's been a running thread in my career. I won Iowa not because the demographics dictated that I would win Iowa. It was because I spent 87 days going to every small town and fair and fish fry and BFW Hall, and there were some counties where I might have lost, but maybe I lost by 20 points instead of 50 points. There's some counties maybe I won, that people didn't expect, because people had a chance to see you and listen to you and get a sense of who you stood for and who you were fighting for. And the challenge for a national party is how do you dig in there and create those kinds of structures so that people have a sense of what it is that you stand for. And that increasingly is difficult to do just through a national press strategy. It's increasingly difficult to do because of the splintering of the press (ph). And so I think the discussions that have been taking place about, how do you build more grassroots organizing, how do you build state parties and local parties and school board elections you're paying attention to, state rep races and city council races, that all, I think, will contribute to stronger outcomes in the future. And I'm optimistic that will happen. For Democrats who are feeling completely discouraged, I've been trying to remind them, everybody remembers my Boston speech in 2004. They may not remember me showing up here in 2005 when John Kerry had lost a close election, Tom Daschle, the leader of the Senate, had been beaten in an upset. Ken Salazar and I were the only two Democrats that won nationally. Republicans controlled the Senate and the House, and two years later, Democrats were winning back Congress, and four years later I was President of the United States. Things change pretty rapidly. But they don't change inevitably. They change because you work for it. Nobody said Democracy's supposed to be easy. It's hard. And in a big country like this, it probably should be hard. Mark Knoller (ph) -- QUESTION: Thank you, sir. OBAMA: Good to see you. QUESTION: Thank you. Good to see you. Mr. President, what can you tell us about the learning curve on becoming president? Can you tell us how long it took you before you were fully at ease in the job, if that ever happened? And did you discuss this matter with the president elect, Trump? 15:49:01 OBAMA: About a week ago, I started feeling pretty good. (LAUGHTER) But no. Look, the -- I think the learning curve always continues. This is a remarkable job. It is like no other job on earth. And it is a constant flow of information and challenges and issues. That is truer now than it has ever been, partly because of the nature of information and the interconnection between regions of the world. If you were president 50 years ago, the tragedy in Syria might not even penetrate what the American people were thinking about on a day to day basis. Today, they're seeing vivid images of a child in the aftermath of a bombing. There was a time when if you had a financial crisis in Southeast Asia somewhere, it had no impact on our markets. Today it does. So the amount of information, the amount of incoming that any administration has to deal with today and respond to much more rapidly than ever before, that makes it different. I was watching a documentary that during the Bay of Pigs crisis JFK had about two weeks before anybody reported on it. Imagine that. I think it's fair to say that if something like that happens under a current president, they've got to figure out in about an hour what their response is. So these are the kinds of points that I shared with the president-elect. It was a free-flowing and I think useful conversation. I hope it was. I tried to be as honest as I could about the things I think any president coming in needs to think about. And probably the most important point that I made was that how you staff, particularly the chief of staff, the national security adviser, your White House counsel, how you set up a process in the system to surface information and generate options for a president, understanding that ultimately the president is going to be the final decision-maker. That that's something that has to be attended to right away. I have been blessed by having, and I admittedly am biased, some of the smartest, hardest-working, and good people in my administration that I think any president has ever had. And as a consequence of that team, I have been able to make good decisions. And if you don't have that around you, then you will get swamped. So I hope that he appreciated that advice. What I also discussed was the fact that I had been encouraged by his statements on election night about the need for unity and his interest in being the president for all people. And that how he staffs, the first steps he takes, the first impressions he makes, the reset that can happen after an election, all those things are important and should be thought about. And I think it's important to give him the room and the space to do that. It takes time to put that together. But I emphasized to him that, look, in an election like this that was so hotly contest and so divided, gestures matter. And how he reaches out to groups that may not have supported him, how he signals his interest in their issues or concerns, I think those are the kinds of things that can set a tone that will help move things forward once he has actually taken office. QUESTION: How long did it take before you were at ease in the job? 15:53:41 OBAMA: Well, I didn't really have time to worry about being at ease because, you will recall, we were losing about 800,000 jobs a month. So the good news is that in some ways my experience is atypical. It's hard to find an analogous situation. By the time FDR came into office, the Depression had been going on for a couple of years. We were in the midst of a free fall, financial system was locking up, the auto industry was about to go belly up, the housing market had entirely collapsed. So one of the advantages that I had is that that I was too busy to worry about how acclimated I was feeling in the job. We just had to make a bunch of decisions. In this situation, we are turning over a country that has challenges, has problems, and obviously there are people out there who are feeling deeply disaffected, otherwise we wouldn't have had the results that we had in the election. On the other hand, if you look at the basic indicators of where the country is right now, the unemployment rate is low as it has been in eight-nine years, incomes and wages have both gone up over the last year faster than they have in a decade or two. We've got historically low uninsured rates. The financial systems are stable. The stock market is hovering around its all-time high and 401(k)s have been restored. The housing market has recovered. We have challenges internationally but our most immediate challenge with respect to ISIL, we are seeing significant progress in Iraq. And Mosul is now increasingly being retaken by Iraqi security forces, supported by us. Our alliances are in strong shape. Our -- the progress we've made with respect to carbon emissions has been greater than any country on Earth. And gas is 2 bucks a gallon. So he will have time and space, I think, to make judicious decisions. The incoming administration doesn't have to put out a huge number of fires. They may want to take the country in a significantly different direction. But they have got time to consider what exactly they want to achieve. And that's a testament to the tremendous work that my team has done over the last eight years. I am very proud of them for it. Athena Jones. QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You said more than once that you did not believe that Donald trump would ever be elected president and that you thought he was unfit for the office. Now that you've spent time with him (INAUDIBLE) for an hour and a half in the Oval Office, do you now think that President-Elect Trump is qualified to be president? And if I can do a compound question, the other one, as you mentioned, staffing and tone. What do you say to those Americans who may not doubt that there will be a peaceful transition but that are concerned about some of the policies and sentiments either expressed by President-Elect Trump himself or (INAUDIBLE) that may seem hostile to minorities and others? Specifically I'm talking about the announcement that Steve Bannon, who is a proponent of the so-called alt-right movement, what many call the white nationalist movement, is going to have a prominent role in the White House under a President Trump as his key strategist and senior adviser. What message does that send to the country and to the world? 15:57:47 OBAMA: Athena, without copping out, I think it's fair to say that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on every appointment that the president-elect starts making if I want to be consistent with the notion that we are going to try to facilitate a smooth transition. But the people have spoken. Donald Trump will be the next president, the 45th President of the United States. And it will be up to him to set up a team that he thinks will serve him well and reflect his policies. And those who didn't vote for him have to recognize that that's how democracy works. That's how this system operates. When I won -- and there were a number of people who didn't like me and didn't like what I stood for. And, you know, I think that whenever you have got an incoming president of the other side, particularly in a bitter election like this, it takes a while for people to reconcile themselves with that new reality. Hopefully, it's a reminder that elections matter and voting counts. And so, you know, I don't know how many times we have to relearn this lesson because we ended up having 43 percent of the country not voting who were eligible to vote. But it makes a difference. OBAMA: So given that President-Elect Trump is now trying to balance what he said in the campaign and the commitments he made to his supporters with working with those who disagreed with him and members of Congress and reaching out to constituencies that didn't vote for him, I think it's important for us to let him make his decisions. And I think the American people will judge, over the course of the next couple of years, whether they like what they see and whether these are the kinds of policies and this is the direction that they want to see the country going. And my role is to make sure that when I hand off this White House that it is in the best possible shape and that I've been as helpful as I can to him in going forward and building on the progress that we've made. And my advice, as I said to the president-elect when we had our discussions, was that campaigning is different from governing. I think he recognizes that. I think he's sincere in wanting to be a successful president and moving this country forward and I don't think any president ever comes in saying to himself "I want to figure out how to make people angry or alienate half the country." I think he's going to try as best he can to make sure that he delivers not only to the people who voted for him but for the people at large and the good thing is that there are going to be elections coming up so there's a built-in incentive for him to try to do that. But, you know, it's only been six days and I think it'll be important for him to have the room to staff up to figure out what his priorities are, to be able to distinguish between what he was campaigning on and what is practical, what he can actually achieve. You know, there are certain things that make for good sound bites but don't always translate into good policy. And that's something that he and his team I think will wrestle with in the same way that every president wrestles with. I did say to him, as I've said publicly, that because of the nature of the campaigns and the bitterness and ferocity of the campaigns that it's really important to try to send some signals of unity and to reach out to minority groups or women or others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign. And I think that's something that he will - he will want to do but this is all happening real fast. He's got commitments to supporters that helped to get him here and he's going to have to balance those over the coming weeks and months and years. My hope is that those impulses ultimately win out but it's a little too early to start making judgments on that. QUESTION: You'd like qualifications (ph), has that changed after meeting with him? 16:03:32 OBAMA: You know, I think that he successfully mobilized a big chunk of the country to vote for him and he's going to win. He has won. He's going to be the next president and regardless of what experience or assumptions he brought to the office, this office has a way of waking you up and those - those aspects of his positions or predispositions that don't match up with reality, he will find shaken up pretty quick because reality has a way of asserting itself. And some of his gifts that obviously allowed him to execute one of the biggest political upsets in history, those are ones that hopefully he will put to good use on behalf of all the American people. QUESTION: You're off to Europe which is facing some of the same populist pressures we've seen work in this country. When you spoke at the U.N., you talked about the choices being made (ph) between immigration and building walls. What choice do you think the American people made last week and is there still a chance for what you called a course correction before Europeans make some of their choices? 16:05:10 OBAMA: I think the American people recognize that the world has shrunk. That it's interconnected. That you're not going to put that genie back in the bottle. The American people recognize that their careers or their kids' careers are going to have to be more dynamic. That they might not be working at a single plant for 30 years. That they might have to change careers. They might have to get more education. They might have to retool or retrain. And I think the American people are game for that. They want to make sure that the rules of the game are fair. And what that means is that if you look at surveys around Americans' attitudes on trade, the majority of the American people still support trade. But they're concerned about whether or not trade is fair, and whether we get the same access to other countries' markets that they have with us. Is there just a race to the bottom when it comes to wages, and so forth. Now, I made an argument, thus far unsuccessfully, that the trade deal we had organized, TPP, did exactly that. That it strengthened worker's rights and environmental rights, leveled the playing field, and as a consequence, would be good for American workers and American businesses. But that's a complex argument to make when people remember plants closing and jobs being offshore. So part of what I think this election reflected was people wanting that course correction that you described, and the message around stopping surges of immigration, not creating new trade deals that may be unfair. I think those were themes that played a prominent role in the campaign. As we now shift to government, my argument is that we do need to make sure that we have an orderly, lawful immigration process, but that if it is orderly and lawful, immigration is good for our economy. It keeps this country young, it keeps it dynamic, we have entrepreneurs and strivers (ph) who come here and are willing to take risks, and that's part of the reason why America historically has been successful. It's part of the reason why our economy is stronger and better positioned than most of our other competitors, is because we've got a younger population that's more dynamic when it comes to trade. I think when you're governing, it will become increasingly apparent that if you were to just eliminate trade deals with Mexico, for example, well, you've got a global supply chain. The parts that are allowing auto plants that were about to shut down to now employ double shifts is because they're bringing in some of those parts to assemble out of Mexico. And so it's not as simple as it might have seemed. OBAMA: And the key for us -- when I say us, I mean Americans, but I think particularly for progressives, is to say, your concerns are real, your anxieties are real. Here's how we fix it. Higher minimum wage. Stronger worker protection so workers have more leverage to get a bigger piece of the pie. Stronger financial regulations, not weaker ones. Yes to trade, but trade that ensures that these other countries that trade with us aren't engaging in child labor, for example. Being attentive to inequality and not tone deaf to it. But offering prescriptions that are actually going to help folks in communities that feel forgotten. That's going to be our most important strategy. And I think we can successfully do that. People will still be looking to the United States. Our example will still carry great weight. And it continues to be my strong belief that the way we are going to make sure that everybody feels a part of this global economy is not by shutting ourselves off from each other, even if we could, but rather by working together more effectively than we have in the past. Martha Raddatz. QUESTION: Thanks, Mr. President. (INAUDIBLE) some of the harsh words you had about Mr. Trump, calling him temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief, did anything surprise you about President-Elect Trump when you met with him in your office? And also I want to know, does anything concern you about a Trump presidency? 16:11:04 OBAMA: Well, we had a very cordial conversation and that didn't surprise me, to some degree because I think that he is obviously a gregarious person. He's somebody who I think likes to mix it up and to have a vigorous debate. And you know, what's clear is that he was able to tap into, yes, the anxieties but also the enthusiasm of his voters in a way that was impressive. And I said so to him because I think that to the extent that there were a lot of folks who missed the Trump phenomenon, I think that connection that he was able to make with his supporters, that was impervious to events that might have sunk another candidate. That's powerful stuff. I also think that he is coming to this office with fewer set hard-and-fast policy prescriptions than a lot of other presidents might be arriving with. I don't think he is ideological. I think ultimately is, he is pragmatic in that way. And that can serve him well as long as he has got good people around him and he has a clear sense of direction. Do I have concerns? Absolutely. Of course I have got concerns. You know, he and I differ on a whole bunch of issues. But you know, the federal government and our democracy is not a speedboat. It's an oceanliner, as I discovered when I came into office. It took a lot of really hard work for us to make significant policy changes, even in our first two years, when we had larger majorities than Mr. Trump will enjoy when he comes into office. And you know, one of the things I advised him to do was to make sure that, before he commits to certain courses of action, he has really dug in and thought through how various issues play themselves out. I will use a obvious example, where we have a difference but it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming year. And that's the Affordable Care Act. You know, obviously this has been the Holy Grail for Republicans over the last 6-7 years, was we got to kill ObamaCare. Now that has been taken as an article of faith, that this is terrible, it doesn't work and we have to undo it. OBAMA: But now that Republicans are in charge, they got to take a look and say, let's see. We got 20 million people who have health insurance who didn't have it before. Health care costs generally have gone up at a significantly slower rate since ObamaCare was passed than they did before, which has saved the federal Treasury hundreds of billions of dollars. People who have health insurance are benefiting in all sorts of ways that they may not be aware of, everything from no longer having lifetime limits on the claims that they can make to seniors getting prescription drug discounts under Medicare to free mammograms. Now it's one thing to characterize this thing as not working when it's just an abstraction. Now suddenly you are in charge and you are going to repeal it. OK, well, what happens to those 20 million people who have health insurance? Are you going to just kick them off and suddenly they don't have health insurance? In what ways are their lives better because of that? Are you going to repeal the provision that ensures that if you do have health insurance on your job and you lose your job or you change jobs or you start a small business that you are not discriminated against because you have got a preexisting condition? That's really popular. How are you going to replace it? Are you going to change the policy that kids can stay on their parents' health insurance plan until they are 26? How are you going to approach all these issues? Now, my view is that if they can come up with something better that actually works and a year or two after they have replaced the Affordable Care Act with their own plan that 25 million people have health insurance and it's cheaper and better and running smoothly, I will be the first one to say that's great. Congratulations. If, on the other hand, whatever they are proposing results in millions of people losing coverage and results in people who already have health insurance losing protections that were contained in the legislation, then we are going to have a problem. And I think that's not going to be unique to me. I think the American people will respond that way. So I think on a lot of issues what you're going to see is now comes the hard part. Now is governance. We are going to be able to present to the incoming administration a country that is stronger. A federal government that is working better and more efficiently. A national security apparatus that is both more effective and truer to our values. Energy policies that are resulting in not just less pollution, but also more jobs. And I think the president-elect rightly would expect that he is judged on whether we improve from that baseline and on those metrics or things get worse. And if things get worse, then the American people will figure that out pretty quick. And if things get better, then more power to him. And I will be the first to congratulate him. QUESTION: Mr. President, you had talked specifically about his temperament. Do you still have any concern about his temperament? 16:18:42 OBAMA: As I said, because Athena (ph) asked the question, whatever you bring to this office, this office has a habit of magnifying and pointing out and hopefully then you correct for. This may seem like a silly example, but I know myself well enough to know I can't keep track of paper. I am not well-organized in that way. And so pretty quickly after I'm getting stacks of briefing books coming in every night, I say to myself, I have got to figure out a system because I have bad filing, sorting, and organizing habits. OBAMA: And I have got to find some people who can help me keep track of this stuff. Now that seems trivial, but actually it ends up being a pretty big piece of business. I think what will happen with the president-elect is there are going to be certain elements of his temperament that will not serve him well unless he recognizes them and corrects them. Because when you're a candidate and you say something that is inaccurate or controversial, it has less impact than it does when you're president of the United States. Everybody around the world's paying attention. Markets move. National security issues require a level of precision in order to make sure that you don't make mistakes. And I think he's (ph) (inaudible) recognizes that this is different, and so do the American people. All right. I'm going to take just a couple more questions and then I get out of here. Nadia -- QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President (ph). President Elect Trump threatened to unravel the Iran nuclear deal which your administration worked very hard to achieve. What would your concern be if he (ph) alters part of it? And what would you advise (inaudible) considering that he (inaudible)? And on Syria, sir, the Syrian regime now is threatening Aleppo with explosions (ph). You talked passionately a few years back about Benghazi (ph) and you warned against the killing of civilians there. Many people criticized your administration for the (inaudible) Syria. Are you willing to (inaudible) under your watch? And how do you react to President Trump -- I mean President Elect Trump's statement that he won't support the Syrian opposition? 16:21:37 OBAMA: Iran is a good example of the gap, I think, between some of the rhetoric in this town, not unique to the president elect, and the reality. I think there was a really robust debate about the merits of the Iran deal before it was completed. And I actually was pretty proud of how our democracy processed that. It was a serious debate. I think people of good will were on both sides of the issue. Ultimately, we were able to persuade members of Congress and the public, at least enough of them, to support it. At the time, the main argument against it was, Iran wouldn't abide by the deal. That they would cheat. We now have over a year of evidence that they have abided by the agreement. That's not just my opinion. It's not just people in my administration. That's the opinion of Israeli military and intelligence officers who are part of a government that vehemently opposed the deal. So my suspicion is that when the president elect comes in and he's consulting with his Republican colleagues on the hill, that they will look at the facts, because to unravel a deal that's working and preventing Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon would be hard to explain, particularly if the alternative were to have them free from any obligations and go ahead and pursue a weapon. And keep in mind, this is not just an international agreement between us and the Iranians. This is between the P5+1, other countries. Some of our closes allies. And for us to pull out would then require us to start sanctioning those other countries in Europe or China or Russia, that were still abiding by the deal, because from their perspective, Iran had done what it was supposed to do. So it becomes more difficult, I think, to undo something that's working than undo something that isn't working. And when you're not responsible for it, I think you can call it a terrible deal. When you are responsible for the deal and preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, you're more likely to look at the facts. That is going to be true in other circumstances. For example, the Paris Agreement. There's been a lot of talk about the possibility of undoing this international agreement. Now, you've got 200 countries that have signed up for this thing, and the good news is that what we've been able to show over the last five, six, eight years is that it's possible to grow the economy really fast and possible to bring down carbon emissions as well. It's not just a bunch of rules that we've set up. You have got utilities that are putting in solar panels and creating jobs. You've got the big three automakers, who have seen record sales and are overachieving on the fuel efficiency standards that we set. Turns out that people like not having to fill up as often and then save money at the pump, even if it's good for the environment. You have got states like California, that have been moving forward on a clean energy agenda separate and apart from any federal regulations that have been put forward. In fact, 40 percent of the country already lives under -- in states that are actively pursuing what's embodied in the Paris agreement and the clean power plant rule (ph). And even states like Texas that, you know, politically tend to oppose me, you have seen huge increases in wind power and solar power and you got some of the country's biggest companies, like Google and Walmart, all pursuing energy efficiency because it's good for their bottom line. So what we have been able to do is to embed a lot of these practices into how our economy works and it's made our economy more efficient, it's helped the bottom line of folks and it's cleaned up the environment. What the Paris agreement now does is say to China and India and other countries that are potentially polluting, come on board. Let's work together so you guys do the same thing. And the biggest threat, when it comes to climate change and pollution, isn't going to come from us because we only have 300 million people. It's going to come from China with over 1 billion people and India with over 1 billion people. And if they are pursuing the same kinds of strategies that we did before we became more aware of the environment, then our kids will be choked off. And so, again, do I think that the new administration will make some changes? Absolutely. But these international agreements, the tradition has been that you carry them forward across administrations, particularly if, once you actually examine them, it turns out that they are doing good for us and binding other countries into behavior that will help us. All right. Last question. Justin (INAUDIBLE). I'm sorry. Oh, I'm sorry. OK. You're right, (INAUDIBLE), you were right about that. With respect to Syria, in Benghazi, we had an international mandate. We had a U.N. security resolution. We had a broad-based coalition and we were able to carry out a support mission that achieved the initial goal of preventing Benghazi from being slaughtered fairly quickly. It's no secret -- you know this region well -- that Syria is a much more messy situation with proxies coming from every direction. And so I wish that I could bring this to a halt immediately. We have made every effort to try to bring about a political resolution to this challenge. John Kerry has spent an infinite amount of time trying to negotiate with Russians and Iranians and Gulf states and other parties to try to end the killing there. But if what you are asking is, do we have the capacity to carry out the same kinds of military actions in Syria that we did in Libya, the situation is obviously different. We don't have that option easily available to us. And so we are going to have to continue to try to pursue, as best we can, a political solution and, in the interim, put as much pressure as we can on the parties to arrive at humanitarian safe spaces and cease-fires that at least alleviate the suffering that is on the ground. I recognize that that has not worked. And it is something that I continue to think about every day and we continue to try to find some formula that would allow us to see that suffering end. But I think it's not surprising to you because you study this deeply that if you have a Syrian military that is committed to killing its people indiscriminately as necessary and it is supported by Russia, that now has substantial military assets on the ground and are actively supporting that regime, and Iran actively supporting that regime, and we are supporting what has to be our number one national security priority, which is going after ISIL both in Mosul and ultimately in Raqqah, that the situation is not the same as it was in Libya. And obviously there are some who question the steps we took in Libya. I continue to believe that was the right thing to do. Although as I indicated before, in the aftermath of that campaign, I think the world community did not sufficiently support the need for some sort security structures there and now is a situation that we have to get back into a better place. I've given you... QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) OBAMA: OK. Last question is Justin Sink (ph) at Bloomberg. QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to ask about two things that might be on your desk over the next couple of months as you prepare for a Trump administration. One is at least three quarters of a million undocumented immigrants provided the federal government information about themselves and their family as part of your deferred action program. I wonder if there is anything you can do to reassure them or shield that information for the incoming Trump administration considering his stance on immigration. And the second is, the administration and you want to maintain the legal restraints upon you by Congress governing (OFF-MIKE) Gitmo are unconstitutional (OFF-MIKE) commander-in-chief considering that the gradual transfers that you pursue are unlikely to continue under a Trump administration. Is this now is the time to sort of test that theory by moving the detainees and seeing where the chips fall (ph)? 16:32:44 OBAMA: Those are both excellent questions. On the deferred action program that we have known as DACA that relates to DREAMers who are currently benefiting from these provisions, I will urge the president-elect and the incoming administration to think long and hard before they are endangering the status of what for all practical purposes are American kids. I mean, these are kids who were brought here by their parents. They did nothing wrong. They have gone to school. They have pledged allegiance to the flag. Some of them joined the military. They've enrolled in school. By definition, if they are part of this program, they are solid, wonderful young people of good character. And it is my strong belief that the majority of the American people would not want to see suddenly those kids have to start hiding again. And that's something that I will encourage the president-elect to look at. 16:34:20 With respect to Guantanamo, it is true that I have not been able to close the darn thing because of the congressional restrictions that have been placed on us. What is also true is we have greatly reduced the population. You now have significantly less than 100 people there. There are some additional transfers that may be taking place over next the two months. There is a group of very dangerous people that we have strong evidence of having been guilty of committing terrorist acts against the United States, but because of the nature of the evidence, in some cases that evidence being compromised, it's very difficult to put them before a typical article 3 court. And that group has always been the biggest challenge for us. My strong belief and preference is that we would be much better off closing Gitmo, moving them to a different facility that was clearly governed by U.S. jurisdiction. We'd do it a lot cheaper. And just as safely. Congress disagrees with me, and I gather that the president elect does as well. We will continue to explore options for doing that. But keep in mind that it's not just a matter of what I'm willing to do. One of the things you discover about being president is that there are all these rules and norms and laws and you got to pay attention to them. And the people who work for you are also subject to those rules and norms, and that's a piece of advice that I gave to the incoming president. I am very proud of the fact that we will, knock on wood, leave this administration without significant scandal. We've made mistakes. There have been screw ups. But I will put the ethics of this administration and our track record in terms of just abiding by the rules and norms and keeping trust for the American people. I will put this administration against any administration in history. And the reason is because, frankly, we listen to the lawyers. We had a strong White House Council's office. We had a strong ethics office. We had people in every agency whose job it was to remind people, this is how you're supposed to do things. It doesn't mean everybody always did everything exactly the way you're supposed to, because we got 2 million people working in the federal government, if you're including the military. So we had to just try to institutionalize it as much as we could, and that takes a lot of work. And one of my suggestions to the incoming president is that he take that part of the job seriously as well. Again, you wouldn't know this if you were listening to some news outlets, or some members of oversight committees in Congress. But if you actually look at the facts, it works. And this is just one example of the numerous ways in which the federal government is much better today than it was without people really knowing. You look at VA. People remember the legitimate problems that were publicized in Phoenix. It was scandalous what happened. What people don't remember is that we've brought in well over a million people who are getting benefits that weren't getting it before. Driven the backlog for disability benefits way down, cut homelessness in half, just made the agency work better. Not work perfect, but work better. And one of the mottos I always have with my staff was, better is good. Perfect is unattainable. Better is possible. And so we will try to share the lessons that we've learned over these last eight years with the incoming president, and my hope is he makes things better. And if he does, we'll all benefit from it. All right. Thank you, everybody. Some of you who are traveling, you'll get a chance to ask more questions. Thank you. END