[Congressional Record Volume 153, Number 13 (Tuesday, January 23, 2007)]
[Pages H875-H880]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 18, 2007, the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentlemen for yielding their time back 
and doing it in the spirit of bipartisanship.
  Mr. Speaker, I hope that now that the 100 hours is out of the way and 
we are to the point of having the State of the Union, that we will see 
this body return to a format of regular order and regular process and 
rules that we have had in place and have respected and this body has 
abided by through the course of this great Nation. That would, indeed, 
be welcomed.
  In the 100-hour agenda we have seen the majority party take action on 
some of the issues that they had chosen to address. Their 100-hour 
agenda has included legislation on student loans that really is not 
going to do anything to make loans more accessible and available to 
those students that are trying to get into college. It is not going to 
reduce the cost of college while it is there. And it will take effect

[[Page H876]]

after a person has graduated and then is working and is looking at 
consolidating those loans and paying them back.
  So that one was a little bit of a head-scratcher for a lot of our 
constituents because we have worked tirelessly to make college more 
affordable, to raise the caps on what could be loaned for students to 
get those Stafford loans, Pell Grants and increasing the funding for 
those, things that actually would make a difference, and that is an 
accomplishment of the Republican majority over the past decade.
  Minimum wage. One of our colleagues had just mentioned minimum wage. 
And I will point out, Mr. Speaker, to the Members of this body that the 
actions that were taken on minimum wage, we heard from our small 
business community. Certainly small business employers that are in my 
district were very concerned about this. We have heard estimates of 5 
to 7 to as much as $17 billion in costs that this would be to our small 
businesses. That is of tremendous concern. That is a cost that is going 
to get passed on.

                              {time}  1600

  That is a cost that is going to get passed on. And of course in the 
minimum wage bill, we had the unfortunate error of Tunagate that was 
crept into that bill somehow in one of the sessions as the bill was 
being drafted, and there again, not going through regular order in 
making its way to the House. And we hope that we will see that 
situation addressed.
  And the tuna producers that American Samoa were exempted from that, 
American Samoa was exempted from that minimum wage. That is not fair to 
the rest of the tuna producers in this country. It is not fair to the 
rest of the companies that sell tuna and tuna products, and we do hope 
that there will be attention placed to that and that issue will be 
addressed, because it was a northern California, San Francisco, company 
that produced the tuna that is harvested in American Samoa. We do have 
concerns about favoritism that was shown there.
  The Medicare bill that was passed in the first 100 hours will indeed 
yield additional costs to the VA. We have had some numbers there that 
are of quite concern, as much as three-quarters of a billion dollars 
that this would end up costing, be an additional cost to the veterans 
health care system, to our veterans for their pharmaceuticals.
  And what we have heard from our seniors is that they are pleased with 
Medicare part D. They are pleased to have access to affordable health 
care. They are very pleased that prescriptions and pharmaceuticals and 
therapies that at one point they did not have, that they now have 
access to that.
  It was a little bit of a head-scratcher, Mr. Speaker, that a program 
that has been so well received by our seniors, that the new majority 
would come along and say, well, we are going to change it. We are going 
to tweak it. It does not matter if it is working well.
  And it leads us to question: Is it just they want programs that only 
they design and only they grow, or do they want programs that are going 
to be of service to the American people?
  Another of the bills that came through was the 9/11 Commission 
implementation, not exactly what had been promised in campaign 
promises. But, you know, the new majority did take the bill up and did 
take action. And we have heard from a lot of our businesses that are in 
logistics and transportation with great concerns, great concerns about 
the cost.
  Mr. Speaker, when you pass additional fees and additional mandates, 
and additional costs on to business, guess what? Ronald Reagan was 
right. It is the people that end up paying those costs. It is not 
businesses that are bearing those costs and absorbing them. They get 
passed on to you, to me, and to other consumers, the taxpayers, who see 
their costs go up because the business that they are doing business 
with is having to meet the mandates of who? Guess what? The mandates of 
the Federal Government.
  So, yes, this has been a very expensive first 100 hours. And it has 
been troublesome in that regular order was not abided by, the bills 
were not going through committees and having hearings and having the 
due diligence process that we as Members of Congress are bound to do. 
And then they were just coming to the floor without those hearings.
  I just had another of our colleagues mention something on health 
care. Of course, this is an issue that we know the President is going 
to speak a little bit about this evening. Before we move on to a couple 
of other points, I do want to make a couple of observations about 
health care and some of the discussion that was taking place on the 
issue of health care.
  We know the President is going to talk about health care tonight. 
Now, the Republicans, the conservatives, have an approach that they 
think is a right approach. We think that it is appropriate for small 
businesses to be able to band together and come together under an 
umbrella and purchase health care, health coverage, health insurance 
for their employees.
  That is very good. Our Nation has 40 million uninsured, and to be 
able to have groups come together, small businesses, let us say all of 
your florists, or all of your auto supply companies, or all of your 
plumbing companies, or companies that are a part of the Chamber of 
Commerce or other small business organizations, or women-owned 
businesses, businesses of like groups can come together and make that 
purchase of insurance.
  It is called small business health plans or association health plans, 
very good idea for helping our Nation's 40 million uninsured, and the 
right type, the right type step because it helps make health care 
insurance affordable.
  Mr. Speaker, that is positive. That is a free-market way to address 
the situation. It is a pro-small-business way to address the situation. 
It is the right step.
  Another good step is allowing a tax deduction, $5,000, $7,500, for 
small business that buy insurance. That is the great step. That is the 
way it should be. You know, when you start looking at the end of the 
year and filling out your taxes, that is money that you have earned, 
and being able to take that deduction because you have done something 
that is right, way to go.
  It should be incentivized. There should be deductions for that. And 
it is appropriate that that take place. Now, those are private sector, 
free market responses to addressing the health care situation. They 
work very well with the health savings accounts that were passed as 
part of the Medicare modernization when that bill came forward in 2003.
  Health savings accounts have been tremendously popular. We now know 
that we have about 15 million Americans that are insured through health 
savings accounts. The number is growing. By 2010 we know that there 
will be over 20 million American families that are there and insured 
through health savings accounts, having the opportunity to take 
responsibility for their health care from dollar one.
  And continuing to incentivize health savings accounts, tax deductions 
there. There again, it is a private sector, free-enterprise solution to 
the health care situation, more market-driven, allowing people to have 
control of access, to take control of their health care decisions, and 
to participate in those, have choice over who their physician is. Those 
are the right things to do.
  Now, one of my colleagues just made a statement about the haves and 
the have-nots in health care, and made a statement that health care 
could be provided and, I think I am quoting this correctly, said: We 
could do it without any additional cost to the system.
  Oh, Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, when I hear things like that, 
without any additional cost to the system, it certainly causes me to 
pay a little bit closer attention, because one of the things that we 
have realized, Mr. Speaker, is you know what? Nothing is free. There is 
nothing free. Nothing. There is no free lunch. There is nothing free in 
health care. Somebody is paying the bill.
  What we see take place many times is cost shifting, and you will see 
costs shift within a system. Now, in my wonderful State of Tennessee, 
we have had an interesting situation take place. We have had a program 
that went into place in January 1, 1995. It is called TENNCARE, and it 
was basically a template for Hillary Clinton's health care plan. And 
one of the talking points on it was: There will be no additional costs. 
We will just spread out

[[Page H877]]

the risk. We will allow those who are uninsured, up to so many percent 
of poverty, 400 percent of poverty, to come in and to access health 
care, and we will spread the risk. We will do it through managed care 
organizations. And managed care organizations can compete for the 
opportunity to provide this insurance.
  Well, it has been a program that has had quite a bit of turmoil. We 
now see that nearly 30 percent of the individuals in our State are on 
the program, and it is eating up about 36 percent of our State's 
  The reason for that, Mr. Speaker, is because whenever you are trying 
to give things for free, someone else is paying. In the case of 
TENNCARE, it has been the citizens of our State, the taxpayers of our 
State. And there is no way to ever keep up with the exponential growth 
of that program. So I would encourage all of my colleagues to be very, 
very thoughtful as we move forward on the health care debate.
  There is no such thing as being free. There is no way to do this with 
no additional cost, because, as you try to make more things free, what 
happens is your access is restricted. What happens is you have fewer 
physicians who are available for those individuals that need those 
services. What have you when things are free is people flood into that 
State trying to get that for a reduced fee, and your own citizens of 
the State who need the program many times are not able to access it.
  So I would step very cautiously as our colleagues on the other side 
of the aisle talk about health care that is going to be free, and 
universal health care and Hillary Clinton's health care plan. There are 
some pitfalls that are there, and they deserve to be recognized by the 
body of this House.
  As we talk about health care, I would love to yield to the gentleman 
from Georgia, Dr. Price, a distinguished Member of this body who is an 
expert on health care, for some of his thoughts on the issues of the 
  Mr. PRICE of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for 
yielding. I want to thank you for your leadership and your organization 
of this hour, and day in and day out of working here in the Congress to 
represent your constituents in Tennessee, but working so diligently on 
behalf of the hardworking American taxpayer out there, making certain 
that their interests are upheld here in the House of Representatives.
  I appreciate you bringing up the issue of health care. There are a 
couple of things that I would be interested in talking about today. But 
the issue of health care is near and dear to my heart. As you 
mentioned, I am a physician, or was in my former life before coming to 
Congress, spent over 20 years in the private practice of orthopedic 
surgery outside Atlanta.
  One thing that I knew for certain and that my patients knew for 
certain was that when doctors and patients are able to make health care 
decisions, then good decisions get made. When insurance companies or 
government inserts themselves into those decisions, then most often, 
most often those decisions do not resemble the kind of decisions that 
individual persons would make in very personal health care decisions 
that they have.
  I appreciate the comments that you made. I would like to commend the 
President for putting on the table what I believe will be discussed 
tonight in his State of the Union; that is, the individual tax 
deductibility of health insurance. I have been a longtime supporter of 
the right of individuals to have the same kind of benefit that 
employers do in the purchase of health insurance.
  So I am pleased that we have heard that that is indeed going to be a 
possibility brought forward by the President this evening. It would 
give so many people an opportunity to purchase health insurance that 
right now are not able to do so financially. So I look forward to that 
proposal coming forward tonight. And I would be happy to yield back to 
the gentlewoman and talk about some other issues if you so desire.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. 
Before I yield back to him for some further comments, I just want to 
highlight one of the things that he brought up as a physician, and 
someone who deals with this.
  When you have a government-run program, what you are doing is putting 
bureaucrats in charge of your health care decisions, and you are 
removing that doctor-patient relationship many times. You are putting a 
barrier there between the individual and that doctor. Someone else that 
is removed from the process is making that decision; thereby it removes 
the patient many times from that decision process.

                              {time}  1615

  That is something that we do not want to see this Nation run toward. 
Our seniors, our families want to be able to participate in making 
those health care decisions for themselves. We are so pleased to know 
that the President will talk about, as I said earlier, the private 
sector free market-based approach to solving our health care problem.
  Mr. Speaker, that is what it is going to require, innovation, 
thinking outside of the box and being certain of something we know: 
access, affordability, and preserving that doctor-patient relationship.
  In my case, preserving health care for Tennesseeans. In the gentleman 
from Georgia (Mr. Price), preserving health care for Georgians. That is 
where our focus will be as we move forward on this discussion. We do 
not want a government-run, government-directed program that is going to 
place barriers between patients and the individuals that are making 
those decisions with their health care professionals.
  Mr. PRICE of Georgia. Sometimes it is hard to get your arms around 
what do you mean the government being involved in the process.
  I would suggest to my colleagues here and others who are listening 
that we already see the inroads of some government decisions. One of 
them is what sounded wonderful at the time, the HIPAA legislation, 
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which was supposed 
to make every individual citizen in this Nation make their health 
records more secure and private. In fact, what that bill has done is 
make that information less private and more available to more 
individuals than ever before. That is because, as you well know when 
you go in to see your doctor, the first thing you have to do is sign a 
ream of documents. You feel like you are in a lawyer's office. You sign 
a ream of documents.
  What you are doing when you sign those documents is providing so that 
the physician, when he or she shares your medical information with 
anybody, isn't liable for violating HIPAA. Medicine is a collegial 
activity. It requires that Dr. A communicate with Dr. B who 
communicates with Dr. C, and they get together and come up with the 
best solution for anybody's health problem.
  When you are not able to share that information, the quality of 
health care goes down. What has happened because the government had 
this brilliant idea to get involved in the process is to say we will 
make it so that your information cannot be shared with anybody unless 
you give your permission. So because Dr. Smith doesn't know when he or 
she is going to run into Dr. Jones to discuss that case, it is 
imperative that every single patient sign away their right to any 
privacy so the doctor can communicate when that time arises.
  What the government has done by putting these rules in place, which 
sounded wonderful, but what the government has done is made it so every 
single patient in this Nation, their medical information is less 
private and less secure than it was before governmental intervention.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman for bringing that forward. The 
unintended consequences are many times what is so difficult to deal 
with. In theory to bureaucrats sitting in buildings, that sounded like 
a great deal: let's have everybody sign the forms.
  In practice what happened for physicians, it was additional 
paperwork, additional staff, and removing the patient from the process, 
making it longer before they get a definitive diagnosis and know how to 
begin a protocol and treatment that will restore their health, things 
that impede a quality of life that our constituents desire.
  So those unintended consequences many times get in the way. We are 
just very hopeful that we will continue the focus and that the 
Democrats will join

[[Page H878]]

us in wanting a private sector, free-market solution to health care and 
not a government-run bureaucracy.
  Mr. PRICE of Georgia. If the gentlewoman would yield, I appreciate 
that description of a free market private system health care. I call it 
patient centered when I am talking about private because it means that 
patients are empowered to do what they feel is appropriate in their 
  When you have a medical problem or when somebody else has a medical 
problem, their decision about what they want to do to treat that may 
not be what mine would be or my family's would be. It is only when 
individuals get to make those personal decisions that we are able to 
make certain that patient-centered health care exists.
  When we try to describe what the future may be if our friends on the 
other side of the aisle had their way and put in place a government 
system that they tried to do in the early 1990s, all you have to do is 
think about the last time you were at your doctor's and you needed a 
test or an X-ray or some type of procedure done. Well, it is very 
likely that discussion and education that you got as a patient with 
your physician didn't last terribly long and you came to an 
understanding and agreement about what would happen next.
  What you may not have known what happens next is one of those 
employees in that office then gets on the phone and talks to the 
insurance company to make certain that it is okay. Most often we have 
gotten that process down to be relatively streamlined. But can you 
imagine if we put the government in charge of health care and you had 
to get on the phone and get the government's permission, Washington's 
permission, so you could have an MRI or biopsy or some other procedure? 
That is what is looming.
  The problem is now just time and inconvenience. The problem is that 
if you, in order to have that happen and to be effective from the 
government, from Washington's viewpoint, if you were not to follow 
those rules, there would be significant punishment. In fact, you would 
violate the law.
  So what we saw in the early 1990s in the proposal that was put on the 
table, if you as a patient or a physician were to do something that 
wasn't allowed by the government, that would be a crime. It wouldn't 
just be a bad decision; it would be a crime.
  So what our friends on the other side of the aisle are in fact 
proposing in the small print, and I know they like bumper-sticker 
politics, I know they like to give these glorious titles to things, and 
they sound wonderful, but when you get down to the fine print, what you 
see, especially in the area of health care that I feel so passionately 
about, when you get down to the fine print, what it means is that 
patients and doctors will be exposed to criminal violations if they 
don't follow what Washington says they ought to do. That concerns me 
very, very greatly; and I know it does you.
  I yield back.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. It does indeed. I thank the gentleman for yielding 
  Having this process that gets more and more convoluted every single 
day is of such concern to our constituents who just want to be able to 
go to the doctor, have a relationship with the doctor and know a little 
bit about what to expect.
  As I said earlier, not knowing what to expect has been one of the 
interesting points that we have dealt with in this first 100 hours. I 
think that we all have been a little bit concerned about a bill that 
was brought forward on Friday. I know my constituents asked about it as 
they heard about it over the weekend. We talked about it on the floor 
some this morning, and this is allowing the Delegates voting rights.

  I have had constituents say, well now, wouldn't that require an 
amendment to the Constitution? They remember when this debate took 
place at different times through history back in the 1970s and again in 
the early 1990s when there were those that wanted to give voting rights 
to our territories. They are very, very concerned about this, and 
rightfully so.
  This morning on the floor earlier I quoted a comment that was made by 
the Democrat Speaker of the House in 1970, Tom Foley, who said: ``It is 
very clear that a constitutional amendment would be required to give 
Delegates a vote in the Committee of the Whole or in the full House.'' 
That was taken from a New York Times editorial.
  Now, this is something that we have to realize, we hold our 
Constitution and the orderly process and the rule of law that is laid 
forth in that Constitution, we hold that to be meaningful. We recognize 
the necessity, Mr. Speaker, to respect the Constitution of this great 
land. We respect that it is built on one man, one vote and equal 
representation under the law.
  So when we hear about giving the residents of our territories a vote, 
it is of concern to us and it does raise several succinct points that 
we have discussed on the floor today. It is a point worthy of 
discussion because it appears that since this has not gone through 
regular order and through the committee process, we haven't held 
hearings, this is nothing more than an unconstitutional power grab in 
order to try to move the new majority's agenda. It is of tremendous 
  I yield to the gentleman from Georgia for some comments on the issue.
  Mr. PRICE of Georgia. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding and her 
leadership on this issue.
  The issue we are talking about is House Resolution 78, H. Res. 78. As 
the gentlewoman mentioned, it was just brought up as a possibility that 
we would be voting on it this week this past Friday. I would venture to 
say, Mr. Speaker, that in your race and I know in my race and I doubt 
in anybody's race around this Nation, save possibly the elections in 
the territories, did anyone ever address the issue of Delegates voting 
on the floor of the House of Representatives. I can honestly say I 
don't know of anybody who used that as an issue that they ran on in 
  We all appreciate that the American people were interested in change 
when they voted in November, but I'm with you: I don't think that the 
American people were interested in this kind of change, this kind of 
change that I believe to be unconstitutional.
  When I go to schools, middle schools and high schools, around my 
district and I talk to students and we talk about the process of 
government, oftentimes I will ask them a question: Can we make any law 
we want in the House of Representatives? Can we make any law in 
Congress we want?
  Sometimes you will get some folks that say yeah; but most often the 
young men and women and boys and girls in my district and I know across 
this Nation know and understand and appreciate that the guiding 
principles that we follow here are defined in the Constitution. I know 
that it is challenging sometimes for people to be held to make certain 
that they follow the Constitution, because there are some really stiff 
rules in this Constitution.
  But one of the ones at the very beginning, article I, is about the 
legislative branches, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, and I believe 
article I was about the legislative branch because the Founders knew 
the incredible importance of the representative branch of government, 
the legislative branch of government. And section 1 is about all powers 
being vested in the House and Senate. Article I, section 2 states: 
``The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen 
every second year by the people of the several States.''
  It didn't mention anything about territories, Delegates from 
territories. I am so pleased, and we are really aided by the 
representation in the committees by the Delegates from the territories, 
by the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico, by the Delegates from 
Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa, and by the Delegate from 
the District of Columbia, but clearly they do not represent States.
  In this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, when we gather as a Committee of the 
Whole or as the House of Representatives, it is clear that the Founders 
and that our Constitution states that an individual to vote in that 
instance must be a Member of the House and a representative of the 
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, repeating again from the Constitution 
that the representatives of this body are popularly elected from the 
several States, and that is so important, and I want to talk for just a 
moment about the size of our districts.
  Mine is right around 700,000 people. We have some that I think are as 
low as 640,000, 650,000. They are going to vary just a little bit. But 
that is the size of them.

[[Page H879]]

  We do appreciate so much the guidance that is given by the Delegates 
from the territories. They are a valuable participation and a valuable 
addition and a wonderful and treasured resource of this body. We need 
their opinion and their input. But the Constitution does not allow for 
their having a vote.
  I think in Guam we have about 155,000 people, and in American Samoa 
there are about 57,000 people.

                              {time}  1630

  So we look at one man, one vote and the equal representation, and 
then we have to say, my goodness, that is just really a far smaller 
number. That is the size of many of our towns or our counties that we 
represent when you have a district like mine. So I think that it is 
important for us to realize that.
  And it is important for us also to realize that these are Delegates 
that will be able to vote to raise your taxes, but they are not paying 
those Federal income taxes, and that is of tremendous concern to our 
  Mr. Speaker, we have dubbed this time and again the ``hold on to your 
wallet Congress'' because it seems as if they are looking for ways to 
increase the cost of government and increase the size of that 
bureaucracy. And our concern is that this is another of those ways that 
would make it easier to raise your taxes.
  And I yield back to the gentleman from Georgia.
  Mr. PRICE of Georgia. I thank you so much for yielding. And I 
appreciate your bringing up that point because it is so important and 
really so basic to our Nation.
  Our Nation began for a variety of reasons, but not the least of which 
is that our Founding Fathers believed that they were being taxed 
without any ability to have representation in the body that was 
deciding whether or not to tax them. They had taxation without 
  Well, this is really turning it on its head because, as you 
mentioned, the individuals, the people in American Samoa, Guam, Puerto 
Rico, and the Virgin Islands, wonderful people that they are, but they 
are not obligated to pay any Federal income tax. None. So what we would 
be doing would be allowing Members, individuals in this House of 
Representatives who would be described as Members, to vote on whether 
or not to raise income taxes, but not be affected personally and not 
have the people that they represent be affected. So that would be 
representation without taxation. And I simply believe and I think that 
our constituents believe across this Nation that that is fundamentally 
wrong. Fundamentally wrong.
  And I want to get back for just a moment to the issue of one person/
one vote, because when people say, well, it does not make a whole lot 
of difference if the districts are a little bit different size. What 
difference does that make? But, again, our Founders knew and understood 
wisely that every Member of this House of Representatives ought to 
represent essentially the same number of people so that when 
individuals at home, citizens at home, vote for their representative, 
their vote counts basically the same as every other citizen of this 
Nation. And when you have districts that are one-tenth the size of 
other districts, which, as you mentioned, American Samoa has a 
population of about 57,000, 58,000, and most of our districts are 
around 650,000; so that means that every person in American Samoa who 
votes, their vote counts 10 times, 10 times the amount that your vote 
and my vote and every other American citizen's vote counts. And that, 
Mr. Speaker, and ladies and gentlemen, and colleagues of the House of 
Representatives, one, is not fair; and, two, it is not the way our 
Founders envisioned anybody voting in this House of Representatives.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman.
  And one of the things that we have our focus on as we prepare for the 
State of the Union tonight and for the work that is before us for the 
rest of this Congress is certainly making certain that we are 
successful in our efforts in Iraq and making certain that we are 
successful in the war on terror.
  Mr. Speaker, our constituents know that this has been a long war. 
They know that the terrorists started attacking us over two decades 
ago, and they also know that on September 11 this Nation decided we 
were no longer going to respond to terrorist attacks as civil 
disobedience. What we were going to do was to change course, and we 
were going to respond to it as what it is: an act of war. And our 
constituents all know, especially constituents in my district, National 
Guard families, Reserve families, families at Fort Campbell that are in 
our district, they know that this is a very, very difficult time for 
our Nation, and it is a difficult time for our men and women in 
uniform. And they know that freedom is worth protecting.
  And when I talk to those men and women, many who have been deployed 
in Afghanistan, have done two deployments in Iraq and know that they 
may be going back, they will say, Yes, we are going back because our 
job is not done. And they understand it, Mr. Speaker. And they know 
that we take a step forward and then we take a step or two back, and 
that it comes very slowly, and that progress is very slow.
  We have seen, and our colleague John Shadegg had handed me an article 
from Real Clear Politics that pointed out some things that have been 
happening recently that just haven't caught the eye of the media, and I 
wish that they had because I would like for them to catch the eye of 
the American people.
  First of all, there appears to be some retreating by al Qaeda from 
Baghdad because they know that troop levels are returning to where they 
were during the electoral process that took place in January of last 
year in Iraq. They know that the radical cleric, al Sadr, has decided 
to call off his boycott, and that his people are returning to 
participate in that newly formed Parliament, and they know that he is 
lowering his profile. And they also have seen Prime Minister al Maliki 
begin to take a change of course and to put some distance between 
himself and al Sadr. But this is of tremendous concern to us when we 
hear the naysayers talk about cutting funding and not supporting the 
  And this morning I was on the floor speaking about our colleague Sam 
Johnson, who truly is a hero and has a wonderful piece of legislation 
that steps forward. It is House Resolution 511, and it really pushes 
forward on the idea of supporting our troops and funding these men and 
women who are in harm's way, making certain that they have what they 
need to do the job that is in front of them; sending the message to 
them that we stand with them and we are not going to desert them.
  We know that this is difficult work. We know that it is a job, as I 
said, that is slow; that progress is slow. But, Mr. Speaker, as we 
stand here today preparing for the State of the Union, and as we expect 
to hear this evening from our Commander in Chief that the state of the 
Union is indeed strong, we also want these men and women in uniform to 
know that it is strong because of the work they do.
  We have the ability to stand here every day and talk about freedom 
and defend freedom and talk about having a Nation that is so wonderful 
and so diverse that we all, each and every one of us, can pursue our 
dreams, can focus on hope and opportunity that is so important to us. 
We do that because men and women have put their life on the line, many 
times more than once, many times for days on end, to be certain that 
freedom remains. And we feel that it is appropriate to bring forward a 
resolution that says fund the troops and fund their needs.
  We think that it is important that we move forward letting the men 
and women know that, when they are in the field, we are listening to 
them. We are listening to the troops. We are listening to the 
commanders, and we respect their judgment. That is an important message 
for us to send.
  And I yield to the gentleman from Georgia for his comments.
  Mr. PRICE of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for 
yielding. And it is so important. And I appreciate your bringing up 
Congressman Johnson's resolution. I spoke for a brief moment on the 
floor earlier about that as well.
  And I know that in this Chamber we can disagree about a lot of 
things, and we should. Our system works best when ideas are exchanged 
and the best solutions rise to the top, because it really

[[Page H880]]

is a battle of ideas. But in this instance we can disagree, as I 
mentioned, about many things, but we ought not disagree about whether 
or not our men and women in harm's way, our troops who are defending 
liberty truly around the globe, ought to receive every single resource 
that they need in order to defend themselves and to defend us.
  I know that many folks go to Walter Reed and visit some of those 
brave men and women who have been injured in battle. I have had the 
opportunity to do that, and I was struck always by every conversation 
that I had with some of those men and women who have come back, some 
with devastating injuries, truly. And I am just so humbled by those 
conversations that I have with those brave soldiers and warriors 
because I would try to close every conversation and ask them what it 
was that we could do to help. What can I do to help? And virtually 
every single one of them said without fail, Congressman, if you can do 
one thing, if you can do just one thing, please, please let me get back 
to my unit. And that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of commitment, that 
kind of sense of duty and honor and patriotism is chilling. It really 
  There are incredible stories that each of them tell, but also I 
believe those men and women serve as a guidepost for us. And, in fact, 
we ought to look to them and look to their courage to have the courage 
that we need in order to support our men and women who are in harm's 
  And I am very hopeful that this House of Representatives will support 
Congressman Johnson's resolution because it truly speaks for, I 
believe, the vast majority of the American people who want to make 
certain that, regardless of how you feel about this conflict, we as a 
Congress state clearly that we will make certain that we provide all of 
the resources necessary for our men and women in harm's way.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman.
  I will close our hour by referencing some comments I have had from 
some veterans in my district. I love the fact that I have absolutely 
wonderful veterans who participate with me on these issues in our 
National Security Coalition, in our Veterans Coalition, which are 
advisory groups for me. And I have had great discussions with them and 
have sent them information about the new strategy going forward in 
Iraq, about some of the conversations that have been taking place here, 
and have sought their best judgment, men and women who have worn the 
uniform and have been there and who have fought and seeking their best 
judgment. And a couple of their comments, I think, are so incredibly 
  One of them says: ``We have to continue our push forward and let our 
military make the decisions in this war. When the House and Senate 
changed, there was no doubt there would be a change of efforts. Our 
enemy knows this and will continue to strike as long as they think our 
country is not united.''
  And another of the veterans said in this e-mail: ``What is important 
is that we show a unified front to the enemy and we give the new plan 
and the deployment a chance to work. If we win, if we defeat radical 
Islam, then maybe, maybe, this is all going to be worth it.''
  Mr. Speaker, these men and women who have put that uniform on and 
have gone into battle know that this is the price that we pay. They 
understand that this is not going to be easy. They know, and they are 
watching the President's speech tonight, and they are watching our 
response. And I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that our enemy is 
watching our response. And I will submit to you that, while we all have 
different philosophies, we all come from different districts, and we 
are a very diverse body, I would commend to you and my colleagues that 
it is important that we stand with our men and women in uniform, that 
we show a unified front and show that we are committed to being certain 
that this Nation continues to stand as a great Nation and that we