When you receive this, I will be winging my way towards Iraq. I am headed to Baghdad on a four-day congressional mission to gauge the progress and needs of the region. I have embraced this trip as an opportunity to assess what has gotten us here and where we are going through my meetings with Iraqi city councils, U.S. armed service commanders, and U.S. troops. Just prior to the trip, I was briefed by Ambassador Bremer, and he told us that we will find power generator turbines, oil refining furnaces, and textile mills that are more than forty years old! The funds for these critical equipment needs had been neglected under Saddam Hussein’s former regime. Prior to my leaving for Iraq, the House took up several important bills. We passed the Department of Defense Authorization conference bill, HR 2658 report provides funding for a number of major defense programs important to the 12th District, including the V-22 Osprey, the Joint Strike Fighter, and the F/A-22 Raptor programs. We also passed the Homeland Security Appropriations Act conference report, HR 2555. HR. 2555 provides $4.2 billion for our nation’s first responders. It also provides $9 billion to protect our borders and enforce our immigrations laws. Finally, it enhances transportation security by further boosting our resources in cargo screening. Both of these bills are very important as we all strive to make America safe and secure. What’s on Tap for Next Week? We’ve reached that crazy time of year in the congressional schedule where it gets much harder to predict what will be on the floor next week. We are starting to wind things down in the legislative schedule, and now we are just waiting to see what bills are ready for consideration on the House floor. We do expect to see several appropriations conference reports; and on Monday, we’ll get more information. Have a good weekend, and please keep the Iraq congressional delegation in your prayers as we travel in Iraq. We will give your best wishes to our men and women who put their lives on the line for us every day in Iraq. As always, thanks for your interest and input.
September 26, 2003