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From Oregon Congressman Greg Walden regarding Iraq and Timber money for schools

March 23, 2007

I wanted you to hear directly from me as to why I voted against the emergency supplemental appropriations bill today in the House.

As you know, tucked into this measure was the one-year, emergency extension of the county payments program, which I've worked so terribly hard to pass. Unfortunately, the legislation we voted on today contained much more than just that and will not become law until the majority Democrats in the House and the Senate work out language in the war supplemental that the President will sign. The longer this effort is postponed, the longer it will take for this measure to become law and for our timber- dependent counties and school districts to receive the emergency assistance they need.

Hopefully, we will soon have a revised measure before the House that does not include an arbitrary withdrawal date of U.S. troops regardless of the assessments of commanders on the ground in Iraq, is not overloaded with non- emergency spending, and is one that I therefore can support and that the President will not veto.

I would note that even major newspapers, including the USA

Today and the Washington Post, have strongly editorialized against the bill I voted "no" on today. The Oregonian also dismissed the mandatory, but arbitrary, troop-withdrawal deadline, calling it "a great favor to the insurgents, terrorists and political opponents in Iraq to announce precisely when American troops would leave."

The Washington Post editorial board today stated the "House Democrats are pressing a bill that has the endorsement of  MoveOn.org but excludes the judgment of the U.S. commanders who would have to execute the retreat the bill mandates."

I'm deeply disappointed that despite every effort we undertook in the 109th Congress to reauthorize and fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, it ultimately failed. I understand your frustrations and know that the loss of this vital funding is really hurting our communities. I know my colleagues in Oregon and I will continue to work closely to restore payments to counties and schools as we have over the last several months when we have presented the new Democratic leadership and committee chairpersons numerous opportunities to include the county payments" funding in various other legislative vehicles.

I will look forward to seeing what the Senate passes with regard to both the reauthorization and funding of county payments and support for our troops overseas. Meanwhile, I will continue to work with my colleagues from both parties in the Northwest and from both the House and the Senate in our unified effort to make the federal government keep its nearly century-long promise to rural communities.

Best regards,

GREG WALDEN

Member of Congress


 
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