HOUSE INVESTIGATION OF IRANIAN ARMS SHIPMENTS TO BOSNIA (Senate - May 14, 1996)
Mr. KERREY. Mr. President, last week the House of Representatives decided on an almost strict party line vote to create a special subcommittee to investigate the Clinton administration's decision not to stop Iran from shipping weapons to the Bosnian Government in violation of the arms embargo. And they voted to spend an additional $995,000 above their planned budget to conduct this investigation. $995,000. While not technically correct, I hope you can indulge me if I just round up and call it an even million. That's really what it is.
Mr. President, while I believe Congress should look into this matter, we also need to be concerned about how we conduct our investigations.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has already held five hearings on the administration's decision not to intervene and prohibit the shipment of Iranian arms into Bosnia. Chairman Specter, myself, and the other members of the committee are well into our investigation at this point and will press on expeditiously to finish in a timely manner. It is important to note, however that we have conducted these hearings and will conduct further hearings as part of our normal oversight responsibilities using our regular committee staff fully within our regular committee budget for fiscal year 1996. And we have done this with the cooperation of both sides of the aisle.
Mr. President, this is why I find the House Republican's actions so disconcerting. We on this side of the Capitol can investigate this matter with the cooperation of both parties, and without additional space, staffing, funding, and committees. Meanwhile, our House Republican counterparts have voted to spend an additional $1 million above their normal budget to acquire more space, to hire more staff, and to form another subcommittee to investigate this same issue. Knowing how difficult it is to start up a new organization, I'd bet we on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will probably finish our investigation before the House's special subcommittee gets moved into its new offices.
I know the House is just as concerned as the Senate about the cost of performing necessary Government functions in these times of billion dollar budget deficits. The new Republican House leadership took some important, difficult measures to cut the cost of running Congress when they took control in 1994. I believe that was the right thing to do. So why spend a million dollars unnecessarily? Especially in this election year, you do not have to be a cynic to believe it was for political reasons. But even a cynic would be dumbfounded trying to figure out why the House Republicans went this extra, excessive step to try to try and make a political point.
Mr. President, when you talk day-in and day-out about billion dollar weapons systems, hundreds of billion dollar deficits, and trillion dollars budgets, a one with just six zeroes after it doesn't seem to be very much. And I guess 9-9-5 plus three zeroes looks even smaller. But it takes 135 average Nebraska families working full time for 3 months to produce $1 million dollars in tax revenue. When there's already a committee structure, staffing, and budget to do the job, the $1 million House Special Committee to investigate Iranian arms flow into Bosnia is a prime example of superfluous Government spending.
Mr. President, I say, let's perform our legislative oversight responsibilities, let's look for the truth in this matter, let's determine who did what when and whether their actions were within the letter and spirit of the law. But let's do it the way we are already organized to do it and within the budgets we set for ourselves. Let's live within out means like we expect or citizens to do.
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