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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Republitron Thought Processes
Shorter Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN, and yes, that's really his name): "Screw the American people, but only after guaranteeing that you've screwed the French, Germans and Russians first, and only if the president tells you to."

Rep. Wamp had proposed a loan amendment to the $87 billion Halliburton sweepstakes. Here's an excerpt from the longer version:

My justifications for the amendment included improving accountability for the money being spent, securing the American taxpayer's investment, strengthening the President's hand in negotiations with other counties and above all ensuring that countries such as France, Germany and Russia are not paid back on their loans to Saddam Hussein if the U.S. taxpayers are not paid back first.

By late afternoon, I was sitting in the Roosevelt Room in the White House presenting these priorities to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolton and President George W. Bush.

The President and I agree the money is necessary to "win the peace" and to "win the war." We both desire a debt free Iraq and passionately agree that we cannot afford to fail and must finish what we have started. Our single disagreement was on HOW we would appropriate the money. He clearly told me that all of the money needed to be a grant and that if any of the appropriation was in the form of a loan it would be problematic to our efforts to build global support.

After everyone made their presentations at the White House, I asked the President directly, "Do you believe in your heart that if my amendment was adopted it would jeopardize our chances for success in Iraq?" He looked me square in the eye and said, "I am afraid that I do!"

After I left the White House I called my wife Kim and repeated the entire story to her and asked for her usual wise counsel. We agreed that since the President has been in negotiations with the G-7 nations and in constant communication with the Arab countries as well, I should give him and his Administration the benefit of the doubt and defer to his judgment on this critical decision.

So when the $87 billion package came before the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, I offered my amendment, made my best presentation, asked the tough questions and then respectfully withdrew the amendment from consideration for two reasons:

First, I did not have the votes to pass it and secondly, because the President of the United States looked me in the eye and advised me that it was NOT in our best national interest to press for a vote.