ISSUES OF THE DAY; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 19
(House of Representatives - January 30, 2019)

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                           ISSUES OF THE DAY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2019, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gohmert) is recognized 
for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Madam Speaker, it has been an interesting day, perhaps 
more than most.
  We have heard over and over again about Republicans supposedly 
causing the shutdown, but in my days as a trial lawyer, judge, chief 
justice, it is always good to look at the evidence. And the evidence is 
very clear.
  You had Republicans in the House and Senate and the President 
actually pass a spending bill in the House before the end of December, 
and the only thing that was keeping it from getting through the Senate 
was that Democrats there, led by Senator Schumer, would not negotiate. 
They arrived at no agreement to get 60 votes so that it could go 
forward with debate. That wasn't the Republicans.
  In the position of the White House, President Trump made clear: This 
is negotiable, but we do need wall, we need barrier. Call it whatever 
you want.
  He moved from talking about concrete to talking about the steel 
barrier. And having spent time with some other Members of Congress, 
invited by Congressman Biggs and Congressman Gosar down to the Arizona 
border, we saw a lot of it. And then it would just end. And then you 
saw a clear path right around the end of it as people kept coming, 
invading this country illegally.
  From the border patrolmen, it was clear some were carrying big loads 
of drugs. Sometimes they are able to catch them, sometimes they are 
not. And it sounds like, from the times I spent on the border south of 
McAllen, southeast of McAllen, the Texas quadrant, more often than not, 
they don't catch the drugs coming in. It is an invasion. It is a huge 
problem.
  And I was hearing people, friends across the other side of the aisle, 
some Senators who are Democrats, acknowledging: Yes, we need to do 
something. But when it came to negotiating, there was no negotiation.
  So we had this bill today decrying how horrible shutdowns are. But if 
you look at the tactics, when the tactics of the leaders--and I say at 
least some of the leaders--of one party are ``we are not going to 
negotiate; we are not going to compromise; we are not going to do what 
is best for the country,'' in effect, as they have stated on prior 
occasions, as they have voted on prior occasions, some of them, that is 
what causes a shutdown.
  You know, we did not need this shutdown. We shouldn't have had to 
have this shutdown. It should have been agreed back in December by at 
least some of the Senators so that we could have gotten a spending 
bill.
  Of course, we had spending passed on three-fourths of the government. 
It was about one-fourth of the government that was not funded. So we 
talk about a shutdown. It wasn't a full shutdown. But, still, it did 
harm to those who were not getting paid.
  But as I would go through airports--and TSA agents would know who I 
was--numerous times I was told: We are hurting not getting paid, but we 
are all right. We are going to be a whole lot worse off if we don't get 
a wall or a barrier or something built and start securing the border.
  We heard from teachers who were saying: We love our kids, we want to 
teach them, but it is so unfair to the students who are already there 
to have people brought in and say you have got to educate these, and 
they don't speak English. And the teachers would say it really did 
damage, it does damage to those students that we are supposed to also 
teach. And now, all of a sudden, we have people we have to teach who 
don't speak English.
  There are some school districts that have done a great job of trying 
to work around that and teach English in an immersion-type setting so 
that we can help people not be relegated to manual labor the rest of 
their lives, but help them speak good English so that they can get good 
jobs.
  But we need a barrier in some places on the border where we don't 
have it, and that is clear. You can't just have a 20-, 30-foot barrier 
just proceeding along that is stopping the drugs, stopping the sex 
trafficking, stopping the human trafficking, and then just stop it. 
Because, as we saw down the Arizona border, the path goes for miles and 
miles, and it comes right up to the point where the barrier ends, and 
it goes right around.
  In one place, there is a little barbed wire gate that is held to the 
barrier. This massive barrier is held with a little, probably a 
quarter-inch, nylon rope. And they leave it in a slip knot so you can 
open the gate and the drugs can come pouring in that will kill 
Americans.
  Something had to be done. And yet what happened was the President was 
willing to negotiate, Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans were willing 
to negotiate, Senator McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate were 
willing to negotiate, and yet the word from our Speaker was: We are not 
negotiating at all on a barrier, a wall.
  So we continued to have people in the interim, while the government 
was shut down, continue to die as a result of us not securing our 
border.
  We were told by Border Patrol, every day, there are women who are 
pulled into sex trafficking. Every day, there are women--often young 
girls. We are told about one-third of the girls who are brought up to 
bring them into the United States illegally are raped at least once 
and, normally, multiple times.
  As long as we keep our border so unsecured, that is going to 
continue. I mean, how much lack of compassion do you have to have to 
say: ``We are fine with the rape trees; we are fine with one-third of 
the girls coming into the United States illegally having been raped. We 
are fine. We just leave things like they are. That is fine, but we are 
not going to negotiate because.
  Apparently, from what we are hearing, even though many of the people 
who refuse to negotiate have talked about the need for barriers and 
talked

[[Page H1322]]

about the need for securing the border, they were very concerned that 
the President would get a political win by getting even part of a wall 
or barrier. So people are just going to have to keep suffering, getting 
raped and dying.
  So we didn't secure the border, there is no additional wall, so they 
can claim the President didn't keep his promise on the wall. That was 
more important than saving lives, saving rapes from happening. It is 
all about politics.
  And that is not across the aisle. I have talked to too many friends 
across the aisle that, if we had been left to our own resources, we 
could have worked something out.

                              {time}  1500

  But apparently, at the top, it was more important to keep a political 
win from the President than it was to do what was right for the 
country.
  I don't know anybody on our side of the aisle who loves shutdowns, 
but there were some claims made in the bill that went too far, so most 
of us voted ``no.''
  We don't want a shutdown, the same way we don't want anybody in our 
military dying. But, if we never had any military willing to risk their 
lives, we wouldn't have the freedoms we have today.
  If we didn't have a President willing to put a stake in the sand and 
say: We have got to do something to secure our border. We need some 
barrier, wall, whatever you want to call it in some places. And I will 
negotiate. The amount is negotiable--he came down to about a fifth of 
what he had been saying and what we are told really needs to be spent, 
$25 billion or so. Yet there was no negotiation on the other side.
  I know there was one dollar mentioned, apparently in jest: Oh, I 
would give a dollar for a wall.
  But it just seems so hypocritical to have a leader, or leaders, that 
would not negotiate in good faith, which caused a shutdown, with one 
side willing to negotiate on everything except we have got to have some 
barriers someplace and no negotiation on the other side.
  Then we come in here with a bill today to condemn shutdowns that were 
caused by a refusal of one side to negotiate. Like I said, I know that 
is not the case.
  There is an article here from the Washington Examiner, Anna 
Giaritelli. It says: ``House Republicans say at least 60 Democratic 
lawmakers have indicated in the past few weeks that they support some 
type of barrier, wall, or fence at the U.S.-Mexico border, even as 
Democratic leaders say they won't agree to President Trump's border 
wall.''
  It is just amazing that that ends up being the climactic bill today, 
condemning shutdowns, after the leadership on one side says: We are not 
compromising; we are not moving an inch. It causes a shutdown; we will 
blame that on you. We will even pass a bill. We have got a majority. We 
can pass a bill, you know, that condemns shutdowns.
  They took out the language, thankfully, that blames the Republicans.
  But I would like to recognize my very dear friend from Pennsylvania 
for his comments and observations.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. 
Perry).
  Mr. PERRY. Madam Speaker, we are here today to talk a little bit 
about what we just saw, which is what the gentleman from Texas is 
talking about, this vote that we just had with the condemnation of 
shutdown.
  Let's just be clear. Nobody--nobody--in this House, whether it be 
Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, anywhere in between, or in 
the Senate, nobody votes for shutdown. There is no bill that says: Are 
you voting ``yea'' to shut down the Federal Government or are you 
voting ``nay''? That is not how this goes.
  What happens is we are trying to fund. It is an appropriations bill. 
And ``appropriation'' is a fancy way of just saying: We are taking your 
tax dollars, and this what we are spending. This is our priority. This 
is how we are spending it.
  There is a disagreement, and we can't come to an agreement. Nothing 
happens. That is the problem: nothing happens. So the Federal 
Government shuts down.
  Now, we had a discussion earlier on when I said: Look, we are having 
this vote today to condemn this horrible thing. That doesn't fix 
anything. It doesn't solve a thing. It is just theater. And the 
American people and our country have big issues at stake that we need 
to get to solving. This doesn't solve anything.
  This is just: Let's make sure we place blame where we think blame is 
so we can pound our chest and feel good and we can--oh, by the way--
cover for some of our Members who voted ``no'' on paying Federal 
employees who were working. That is what this was all about.
  It is in the past. It is in the past. But right now we should be 
talking about the negotiation which caused this whole thing in the 
first place.
  Quite honestly, you should be able to talk and chew gum at the same 
time, which is: Let's have a discussion about what is appropriate at 
the border and keep all of the Federal Government open at the same 
time. But, no, we can't do that because we are not interested in 
securing our border.
  That is really what this is all about. This is the Homeland Security 
appropriations bill. And if you are not talking about securing the 
border in the Homeland Security appropriations bill, I don't know where 
you are going to talk about it.
  So, again, no one wants a shutdown. No one voted for a shutdown.
  But I reminded the majority party that, in December, this House, 
under Republican leadership, voted for a bill that would have kept the 
government open and, in walking and chewing gum at the same time, 
provided for border security that the President would have signed.
  The majority leader said: You guys voted on a bill after waiting for 
a year that you knew couldn't pass.
  Well, during that period of a year, the reason it couldn't pass is 
the reason it didn't pass in the Senate: because Senate Democrats 
refused to fund border security.
  Now, I believe they are for border security, but if it says ``the 
wall,'' well, that is President Trump, and we certainly can't have any 
of that. I would say we have got to get past that.
  Look, you can dislike the President all you want. That is your 
prerogative. But don't translate your dislike for the President into 
not caring for the security of the American people. And that is what 
has happened here.
  We are now in January, at the end of January. We don't know what the 
numbers for January are. We don't know the numbers for December yet. 
But Homeland Security reported in November, between the ports of entry, 
between the points of entry, 51,000 people were apprehended coming 
across our border. We don't know how many weren't apprehended. We just 
know we got 51,000.
  My friends on the other side of the aisle say: We are for border 
security, so we want some drones and more technology and beef up the 
points of entry.
  We are not opposed to that, but we are saying, generally, that is 
status quo, right? We are talking about fixing the status quo. We are 
not talking about doing anything in between the points of entry, which 
is what the discussion really is all about.
  And the President is willing to do things at the points of entry and 
in between, but some folks are not, and that is where we are having a 
problem.
  Mr. GOHMERT. The gentleman mentioned the 51,000. That is just, as I 
understand, those who were apprehended.
  Mr. PERRY. In 1 month.
  Mr. GOHMERT. In 1 month. That is not everybody that was coming in.
  My friend, being a general in the United States Army, served our 
country so meritoriously. We had a situation under President Woodrow 
Wilson where a small part of Pancho Villa's gang came across the border 
into the United States, killed some families, and then went back into 
Mexico.
  Devout Democrat that Woodrow Wilson was, he apparently saw that small 
incursion as an invasion. He sent--and I have asked the Congressional 
Research Service for their best numbers, and the estimate, taken from 
articles and information they had gotten, was probably around 75,000 of 
a new group called the National Guard--new back in the early 1900s.
  He sent them down to stand guard on the border--75,000--and sent 
General John Pershing down into Mexico pursuing Pancho Villa's troops. 
They

[[Page H1323]]

didn't ever get him; they got a lot of his lieutenants. But, 
apparently, when 75,000 people were put on the border, there was no 
more invasion.
  If you look at the U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 4--this is 
our Constitution--says: ``The United States shall guarantee to every 
State in this Union a Republican form of government, and shall protect 
each of them against invasion.''
  Now, 51,000 in a month is many, many times more than the folks that 
Pancho Villa had come in and kill Americans. Would the gentleman 
consider that an invasion, what we have going on on our southern 
border?
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. 
Perry).
  Mr. PERRY. Madam Speaker, I am not sure what else to call it.
  We are a generous people, and I, myself, am the product of legal 
immigration through Ellis Island. We want to remain that way. The 
United States is the most generous nation on the planet in that regard, 
I think last year admitting, legally, about 1.7 million people into our 
country.
  All we are saying is: Listen, please just knock on the door. We have 
a process here. We have got to do it the right way. Don't just barge 
in. Just ring the doorbell.
  But these folks are saying: Well, we don't want to ring the doorbell.
  You can clearly see why, if you are trafficking in little girls or 
young men, if you are trafficking in the 90-plus percent of heroin 
coming across the border and into every single town, laced with 
fentanyl.
  If you are trafficking in MS-13, you are not going to go to the point 
of entry and say: ``Hey, Mr. Border Patrolman, I have got this stash of 
drugs here. You don't mind if I bring this into your country.'' No, you 
are going to go where they are not.
  The President is saying this is where we need to secure our border as 
well, as well as the points of entry.
  Again, I don't understand why we are in this mutually exclusive 
position. I don't think that Democrats don't want to secure the border, 
but securing the border has to be more, something more than putting a 
drone up in the sky so that we can see them coming.
  The point is that they don't get across the border, not just to see 
them coming, but that they don't get onto our side of the border with 
whatever they are bringing and that we interdict them. That is the 
issue here.
  So I think we should be closer than we are, and I would urge my 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle to just appeal to their 
better angels.
  We don't have to side with the cartels. Republicans and Democrats can 
be together and siding with the American people and securing America 
and its people from this unsafe circumstance, whether it is gang 
members and gang-related violence, whether it is drugs coming into our 
community, or whether it is low-skilled labor that puts our low-skilled 
labor--there are people in America, believe it or not, who don't 
graduate high school, and they have a hard time finding a job because 
they don't have an education.
  Not only are they competing against the things that they have in 
their own circumstance--right?--of not having an education in their own 
country, but now they are competing against other people who don't have 
a high school education from another country, who are willing to work 
for less than they are.
  If we don't stand up for the least of those in our community who have 
the least, who have the worst disadvantage against them, our 
constituents, who is going to?
  I would say to my friends on the other side of the aisle: It is 
really time to stop with the theater here and the blame game. It is 
what it is now. Nobody votes for a shutdown. Nobody votes for a 
shutdown. But stop with all that, and let's get to real, live 
negotiations.
  You don't have to side with the cartels. You can side with the 
American citizens. You don't even have to consider it siding with the 
President of the United States if you find that unpalatable. You can 
side with the citizens in your community who don't want MS-13, who 
don't want heroin, who don't want fentanyl, who don't want people 
stealing their wages from the citizens in their community.
  So I would just appeal to them. I know their heart is good, so we 
just ask them to negotiate in good faith.
  The good gentleman from Texas and I will be here when they come up 
with their plan. We have asked--right?--for 30-some days: What is your 
plan? We know you don't like the President. We got that. But what is 
your plan? Have we seen it? I haven't seen anything yet, right? I 
haven't seen their proposal yet.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Madam Speaker, I do want to hit one point that the 
gentleman made about the drones. They can help. The television cameras, 
all of the sophistication, the technology, can help.
  The gentleman from Pennsylvania was not here when $8 billion, as I 
recall, was passed in the House and Senate, signed by the President, 
and given to protect our southern border for, the terminology I recall, 
a virtual wall. And that was not a wall but cameras, airplanes, drones, 
whatever they could get, whatever they needed, whether it was 
microphones, listening--it was whatever the Secretary of Homeland 
Security thought appropriate.
  There was a provision that was added in the Senate that became part 
of the law that said, if the Secretary of Homeland Security decides 
that money is not going to accomplish the purpose of securing the 
border, then she can wave that off and spend the money elsewhere.
  That is what Secretary Napolitano did, as I recall. She waved it off.
  I have been trying to find out for a number of years now: Where did 
that $8 billion go that was supposed to be for this technology that we 
are hearing from some across the aisle: That is all we need is that?
  Well, not one single Democrat did I ever hear say: Do you know what? 
Napolitano shouldn't have waved off a virtual wall.

                              {time}  1515

  They agreed that just wasn't going to do it. Secretary Napolitano 
said that is not going to do it. That is not going to help secure the 
border.
  That is all we hear in response to President Trump saying wall, 
barrier. Whatever you want to call it, it is what we need there.
  I yield to my friend, Mr. Perry.
  Mr. PERRY. Madam Speaker, I can't speak to what happened in the past, 
and I don't know where the money went either, but I know where we are 
today.
  I know that our communities are in peril for these issues that we 
have discussed already. I am sure, coming from Texas, you can name 
people's names. I can name people who have been murdered, who have died 
of overdoses. Even if you are just an average taxpaying citizen in 
Pennsylvania--I don't know about other States--but in Pennsylvania, we 
pay at least $1.3 billion annually just for illegal immigration in the 
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and that doesn't include healthcare and 
social services. That is education and incarceration. And we are 2,000 
miles from the border.
  If you are a senior citizen in Pennsylvania, where our property taxes 
are high, you have paid your mortgage, you are no longer working, you 
are on a fixed income, you are counting on your retirement and maybe 
your Social Security and your savings, and the price tag keeps going up 
because people keep coming into your community illegally. You are in 
peril of losing your home, you are looking to your representatives and 
saying: Sir, ma'am, what are you doing about this problem? We cannot 
accept this. We don't want to lose our home to pay for this problem 
that shouldn't be happening.
  Regardless of what happened in the past, I can't fix that. But what 
we are saying in this House, as Republicans, is the status quo of 
51,000 people in 1 month getting caught between the entry points cannot 
continue. It is too much. It must be stopped. We must do something.
  If the other side has a better plan, God bless them. I am ready to 
sit down and look at it, but we have been waiting for it since December 
20-something. It is now the end of January. We are prepared. The 
gentleman from Texas, the Representative from Texas, and I are willing 
to consider whatever they have, but we don't have anything so far.
  This President has offered, I think, four or five times things that 
they

[[Page H1324]]

have wanted and said: Let's come to the table.
  We can't fix it on our own. We need their involvement. We need their 
input.
  We just beseech them: Let's get past all this theater. Let's get down 
to brass tacks here and start saving our community.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friend from Pennsylvania 
so much for sharing his thoughts. It continues to be a problem every 
day.
  An article here from The Hill, by Madison Gesiotto, says: ``The 
Mexican Government is doing more to combat illegal immigration into the 
United States than the entire Democratic Party put together. While the 
Democrats continue to pretend the crisis on our southern border is 
imaginary, Mexico is heavily investing in border security in 
anticipation of yet another massive caravan of migrants heading for the 
United States.''
  It goes on: ``Hundreds of Honduran migrants began their journey in 
hopes of seeking asylum at our southern border, a goal that proved 
elusive to the previous caravan. Instead of dismissing the new caravan 
as a `manufactured crisis' as the Democrats did after President Trump 
made his appeal . . . Mexican authorities sprang into action, 
announcing a list of strengthened requirements to address the problem.
  ``According to the latest reports, the Mexican Government is 
reinforcing all the entry points along its own southern border with 
additional immigration enforcement agents and is stepping up 
surveillance of known illegal crossing points. It also plans to enforce 
strict immigration protocols, such as requiring the migrants to undergo 
biometric scans and acquire immigration documents before they can enter 
the country.''
  So that is Mexico. We have worked on a bill in the past that said, if 
you think the Mexican law is so much better than ours, why don't we 
just adopt the policies and the laws of Mexico, with regard to 
immigration? The bottom line is, if we were to do that, we wouldn't 
have millions of illegal immigrants in this country.
  I have to give the President some credit here. When we see this 
article from Reuters, an unlikely source, it points out: ``The United 
States sent the first Central American asylum seeker back to Mexico 
through a crossing at the border city of Tijuana on Tuesday as part of 
a hardened immigration policy, an official at Mexico's National 
Migration Institute said.''
  Somebody has been doing some amazing negotiating in order to make 
that happen, where Mexico would agree to take back some folks who are 
claiming asylum. As I understand it, we may have more people going back 
to Mexico, pending their hearing.
  As we heard from Secretary Nielsen back in December before our 
committee, where there are walls and barriers in place, it cuts illegal 
immigration by 90 to 95 percent. That is something that works. Nothing 
is going to work 100 percent, but that is amazing at how well it works.
  I now yield to my good friend, Congressman Gaetz.
  Mr. GAETZ. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas for 
yielding.
  As we gather here on the floor, the gentleman from Texas and I would 
note that most Americans are working on a Wednesday afternoon at 3:20 
eastern time. Most Americans are trying to advance their careers, their 
lives, their families. I am just tragically disappointed at the lack of 
work going on in this Congress.
  I think one of the reasons that we haven't been so productive is that 
we have not seen the Democratic majority put on this floor what their 
border security legislation even is. I know what the Republican view is 
as we head into conference. I know that because Speaker Pelosi, in the 
White House, told the President we could not pass a border security 
bill here. Directly following that challenge, we came to the floor. We 
prioritized our borders, our laws, the rule of law. We prioritized the 
wages of American families, the safety of communities throughout our 
country. And we passed $5.7 billion for border funding for a barrier 
and sent that over to the Senate.

  I just don't understand, Madam Speaker, why the challenge that the 
Democrats gave Republicans is one the majority is unwilling to meet. If 
Democrats have a bill, put it on the floor. Show us what the majority's 
ideas are.
  Madam Speaker, there has been a conference committee that has been 
appointed. It will get together, and I sure hope that conference report 
produces something that looks like a whole lot of border security, a 
whole lot of barrier and wall and fencing.
  I only can imagine the challenge my Republican colleagues must have, 
because Democrats know what Republicans want, but we don't know what 
Democrats want, so it is kind of hard to negotiate.
  We have to have a win-win to get out of this system where we seem to 
careen from shutdown to shutdown and crisis to crisis as a mechanism to 
gain leverage against one another for our respective priorities. But 
the right thing to do is to just put on the floor what you believe in.
  I know what Republicans believe in because we voted for it. That 
seems to be a fair challenge back to those who are currently in the 
majority. I thank my colleague from Texas for yielding.
  Mr. GOHMERT. I am very grateful to my friend, Congressman Gaetz, for 
that insightful comment. The gentleman is right. When you are right, 
you are right.
  I would like to comment on something else that has been in the news, 
and that is the longest war in which the United States has ever been 
engaged.
  For a little history, it took a few weeks for the United States to 
find out where the training and preparation for 9/11 came from, and 
that the Taliban and Osama bin Laden were behind it. They had control 
of Afghanistan, the Taliban did.
  It was an amazing bit of negotiation by President Bush, with 
incredible help from intelligence and special operations. The special 
ops people from our military were able to negotiate an agreement with 
tribal leaders that ended up being called the Northern Alliance. It 
contained some people who have become friends, people who love their 
country.
  By October, we were putting in about 300 special ops military. There 
is a great book called ``Horse Soldiers'' that delves into this issue, 
and a movie, ``12 Strong,'' although the ending wasn't quite accurate. 
Our American forces were never to lead an operation. They were to 
support Dostum in his operations, which is what they did, heroically.
  By the end of February 2002, apparently, there was no organized 
Taliban left in Afghanistan. It had done an amazing job. The heroic 
fighting of those in the Northern Alliance, the Afghans led by General 
Dostum, did an amazing job.
  We provided some weapons. We gave them aerial--well, there were B-52s 
flying, but only our special ops guys could call down bombs.
  The leaders could tell the Americans: Look, there is a bunker. There 
is a problem.
  They would get the coordinates, call down the bomb, take care of it. 
Dostum and his folks would go in and clean up. That is how, by the end 
of October, we had not lost a single American, and the Taliban had been 
defeated.
  Unfortunately, at that point, we became occupiers. We sent in lots of 
American military, and in the 7-plus years of Commander in Chief George 
W. Bush, we lost just over 600 precious American military lives in 
Afghanistan.
  During the 8 years of Commander in Chief Obama--I believe, 
personally, it was because of the tough rules of engagement, and our 
people not being able to defend themselves until it was sometimes too 
late--we lost about three times as many people under Commander in Chief 
Obama as we did under Commander in Chief Bush. Whatever the problem, 
the buck stops with the Commander in Chief, and we lost three times as 
many when the war was supposed to be virtually over.
  What happened, once we became occupiers, was then more Afghans were 
joining the Taliban. I have talked with an individual who was part of 
the inner circle that was being made at the State Department about what 
kind of government we would give the Afghans.
  That shouldn't have been our job. We defeated the Taliban, or the 
Northern Alliance did with our help. They should have been the ones 
deciding what kind of government.
  The people I have talked to in Afghanistan, friends I have made 
there,

[[Page H1325]]

they said: Look, there is not a much better place on Earth fitted for a 
federalist form of government where the power is in the states or 
provinces and in the localities. We don't need a big powerful dictator. 
We need strong states or provinces.
  Yet, the constitution we hoisted onto the Afghan people, led by a man 
who is now in the State Department once again leading efforts--as I 
understand it, he is the guy who said let's give them a centrist 
government.
  That is what the constitution gave Afghanistan. The President of 
Afghanistan appoints the governors. He appoints the mayors. He appoints 
the police chief.
  The people in Afghanistan have said: Look, this is horrendous. This 
is a formula for corruption. For heaven's sake, at least let us elect 
our governors, elect our mayors. Let us choose our own police chiefs.

                              {time}  1530

  But that is not the constitution that we gave them. But there has 
been an amendment movement for some time. The Obama administration 
would not support it because they had some of the same State Department 
people that said: No, let's keep this corrupt centrist--they didn't say 
corrupt, but that is exactly what it gave them. And the Afghan people 
don't like what America forced on them.
  The solution is, encourage them. And since we spend billions of 
dollars there, look, you want another dime? Amend the constitution; 
allow an election of governors and mayors, local selection of police 
chiefs. Let's return the power to the provinces.
  As my friend, former Minister Massoud, there has said: Look, if you 
will help us get that amendment done, then whenever America leaves, we 
have got power back in our local areas. So if the Taliban takes over 
one province, or tries to take over the national government, all the 
other provinces can rise up and come after them and kick them out like 
we did last time.
  But as long as we have got this coerced, very centralized government, 
all they have got to do is knock off a few people at the top; which is 
why we have people that shouldn't still be in the State Department who 
are negotiating with the Taliban, not even our friends. Our friends are 
going to be dead when we pull out because we are leaving all this power 
for easy reach of the Taliban.
  We ought to be negotiating with our former allies, the ones that 
defeated the Taliban within six months, and get them that amendment, 
push them to get that, help them have those first elections under the 
amended constitution, and then get the heck out of Afghanistan.
  In that regard, we have a man who is not here on the floor this week, 
hasn't been in January, named Walter Jones. He wanted us out of 
Afghanistan, and he has for a very long time. He is not going to be 
around to see that happen is the indication.
  But, Madam Speaker, I know there are many of us that love that guy, 
and I was sad to see him in hospice last Friday. Prayers are with his 
family, because Walter is going to go home and be better off. But we 
miss him.
  I was heartened to see our friend, Alcee Hastings here on the floor a 
while ago. He has been going through a difficult bout of pancreatic 
cancer; been going through chemo, and I know my friends on both sides 
of the aisle will continue to pray for and encourage him.
  We can have strong disagreements. We don't wish anybody to go through 
what Walter and Alcee have been going through.
  One other friend that I spoke to in the last week, she has been in my 
prayers, Anne Graham Lotz. What an incredible gift to America Billy 
Graham's children have been. And our prayers will continue to be for 
Anne, Alcee, and my friend, Walter, and his family.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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