"U.S. troops have earned our gratitude and our support, not just in words but with deeds."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today questioned the Bush Administration on its failure to adequately protect U.S. troops, its plan to complete the mission in Iraq, and its efforts to get Iraqi oil flowing to pay for reconstruction. The Senator's comments came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified at this morning's committee hearing on President Bush's FY 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations request for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Senator Mikulski questioned bureaucratic delays in getting needed resources to troops in Iraq. Congress has provided more than $1 billon in additional funds to buy armored vehicles and body armor for our troops.
"We have been told that the delay in delivering needed equipment to our troops in Iraq is not due to a lack of funding," said Senator Mikulski. "What is the Department of Defense doing to increase industrial capacity and decrease the procurement bureaucracy? How is it supporting the development of innovative technologies to increase protection for our troops without making it harder for them to fight and win this war on terror?"
Senator Mikulski also continued to insist on greater international burden-sharing in Iraq to share the risks of military operations and the costs of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
"The Administration points to lists of participating countries, but the U.S. is still providing the bulk of forces on the ground and our troops are still in the most dangerous areas of Iraq," said Senator Mikulski. "What share of the forces now on the ground in Iraq are American and is that share going up as other countries withdraw forces?"
With U.S. operations in Iraq costing approximately $1.5 billion per week and financial support from the international community slow to materialize, Senator Mikulski also questioned the administration's plan to pay for ongoing operations and reconstruction in Iraq. Rumsfeld, in testimony before the Senate on March 27, 2003, said, "When it comes to reconstruction, before we turn to the American taxpayers we will turn first to ... Iraq's oil revenue."
"We need to get that Iraqi oil flowing," stated Senator Mikulski. "What is the administration's plan to build a modern, efficient, reliable oil infrastructure in Iraq? What are we doing to train Iraqi officials and technicians to manage a modern oil system, develop and manage a export infrastructure, and control and account for oil revenues?