Late Monday night, I returned from a whirl-wind tour of Iraq. I left DC on Thursday and returned very late Monday night. I was absolutely exhausted when I got back but I wouldn’t trade the experience of this trip for anything. In my time in Iraq, I toured a hospital in Baghdad and had a meeting with local officials in one of the ornate palaces that Saddam Hussein built to glorify himself. In Iraq, we also took an aerial tour of Baghdad and then went north to Mosul to visit with U.S. soldiers. I left for Iraq questioning why we need so much money, right now, for rebuilding Iraq. I returned resolute in my belief that we owe it to our troops to provide the resources they need to secure the area. We also owe it to the people of Iraq to help make their country fully operational and fully independent as soon as possible. Many people are caught up in the debate of whether we ever should have gone to Iraq in the first place. From my perspective, that isn’t the question anymore. We are in Iraq now, and we have to finish the job and finish it right. We are making tremendous progress towards that goal: students are going back to school, the power is on, and doctors are seeing patients. The fact is that it is in our own national security interest to facilitate a stable Iraq. By updating their 1960’s infrastructure and getting people back to work, we are undermining the terrorists. The terrorists feed off of people who don’t have hope for the future. If we get people back to work, keep the water running, and open schools, then we provide hope for the future. This hope breeds stability. A stable Iraq helps eliminate the extremist hold in the region, stamping out terrorism and greatly reducing the threat to the United States. I spoke on the House floor this week and reported what I had heard from Army General Rick Sanchez in Iraq. General Sanchez said, “We aren’t going to win the war in Iraq with pure military force. We are going to win it by winning the hearts and minds of the people of Iraq.” The fact is that we have to show the Iraqi people that we are going to stand by our word of building a free and independent Iraq. We are building that Iraq one power plant at a time, one hospital at a time, and one school at a time. It was a trip that I will never forget, and it was a trip that solidified my support for the President’s request for aid to Iraq. What did the House do this week? This week, the House passed S.3, the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Conference report. S.3 bans the practice of partial birth abortions. The House of Representatives has voted on this legislation five times in the past, but the bill has never passed the Senate. For the first time ever, this bill is expected to pass the Senate and go to the President for signature. The House also passed H.R. 2086, the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2003. This bill authorizes $1.2 billion to combat drug trafficking and $1 billion for an anti-drug media campaign aimed at young people. What’s on Tap for Next Week? On Thursday of next week, the full Appropriations Committee will consider the Iraq supplemental. I expect this to be a long and contentious meeting. During the rest of the week, the full House is prepared to give final approval on funding for military construction and energy and water projects. As always, thanks for your interest and input.


Kay Granger