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Cole Comments on Bipartisan War Supplemental

May 14, 2009

WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) gave the following remarks on the House floor on 5/14/2009 regarding the FY 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations bill.

"Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this supplemental and, frankly, I want to congratulate the majority on the legislation. I'm particularly pleased with the military portion that was worked out in negotiations between Mr. Murtha and Mr. Young. The extra dollars that were provided beyond what the Administration requested, I think were wise expenditures."

"I certainly don't agree with everything in the bill and have my differences over process both in the committee and, more profoundly, on this floor where I wish we had the amendments available that my friend Mr. Tiahrt mentioned. But by and large it's a great bill and frankly deserves our support."

"I think we ought to stop for a minute, Mr. Speaker, though, and recognize the significance of the vote that we're about to take. With the passage of this proposal, President Obama - in my mind at least - effectively becomes a war president.  In his campaign he said that Afghanistan was the central front in the War on Terror and he also said if necessary he would move into other countries to pursue Al Qaeda. Since he's been elected, I think he's actually put those views into effect in this legislation."

"And in other actions he's chosen a new commander. He's increased the size of our forces in Afghanistan dramatically. He's begun a civilian surge, which alters in some ways - and I think appropriately - the nature of our mission. He's requested additional forces from European countries and frankly he's made it clear that he's expanding activity into Pakistan. This is a major commitment. It's not a commitment that will be over in a year. Frankly I suspect President Obama will be dealing with this issue throughout his presidency, whether he's a one-or two-term president." 

"As long as he continues to operate in this capacity, frankly, I think he deserves bipartisan support. I think a war president deserves bipartisan support from Congress. He'll certainly have it from me as long as he's consistent with the principles he's laid out and operates under the advice, although reserving the final decision to himself, of the commanders on the ground. It's a good piece of legislation. It deserves to be passed."