WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement in support of the Fiscal Year 2010 supplemental appropriations package which provides emergency funding for the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans' Affairs, foreign aid and disaster relief. The $58.8 billion measure was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 67 to 28:
"As we prepare to spend the Memorial Day holiday with friends and family, I find it very appropriate that one of the last pieces of legislation that my colleagues and I considered this week was the emergency supplemental appropriations act for Fiscal Year 2010. This measure contained funding for a number of important priorities, but the bulk of the funding went to the Department of Defense to support our ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently we have made significant progress in Iraq. In fact, our troop levels in that country have declined from an all time high of 170,000 in 2007 to 92,000 currently. Assuming that we continue to make progress, we will draw down our troop levels throughout the summer with the goal of having only 50,000 troops in Iraq by September 1st. My hope is that the need to continue to fund the war in Iraq will decline as our troop numbers come down.
"While we are drawing down troop levels in Iraq, we are also providing funding for additional military and diplomatic resources to support President Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan. For the first time since 2001, the US is fully engaged in addressing the challenges we face in Afghanistan, ensuring that diplomatic and military efforts are robust, strategically deployed, and well coordinated. Last month I traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to see firsthand how the President's new comprehensive strategy was working. Based on what I saw and heard there in my visits with our troops as well as our military and diplomatic leaders, I believe our prospects for Afghanistan have improved from not good at all to "possible," and that progress is because of President Obama's comprehensive strategy for a new way forward in Afghanistan. While progress is hard to measure and ultimate success remains uncertain, I do believe that we finally have the right strategy, the right US leadership, and we are providing the necessary resources to get the job done. This is our exit strategy, and I am hopeful that the investments we are making in this legislation will pay off.
"Even as we set aside funding in this legislation for our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must also meet the needs of our veterans. That's why I'm pleased that this measure includes additional funding for the Department of Veterans' Affairs to provide disability compensation to Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange. We owe all of our veterans an enormous debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice for our country and this funding will help us meet our obligations to our veterans.
"Also included in this supplemental appropriations bill is $20 million for the Army Corps of Engineers' Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Fund. This funding is particularly important to Delaware because the damage done to our beaches by the November 2009 Nor'easter is eligible for this funding. This funding has not yet been set aside for specific repair projects, but I will continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that Delaware's beaches are fully repaired."