Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 13, 2015 3:00am-5:01am EST

3:00 am
the air force picks the platform to do that. >> let me ask you about no contracting with the enemy. that is legislation senator brown and i had pushed before the committee and now it has been expanded to authorities beyond the department of defense , state departments. how has that worked in afghanistan? we had money going to your enemy, going to people who were misusing our funds to work against our interest. how is that on the task force been working? >> probably about 780 plus different contractors since 2010 we have taken a look at, embedded those in 100.
3:01 am
and has denied insurgents $9.8 billion. that has been a game tender. we continue to work that -- game changer. we can reach back quickly with that. based on that success, nato has already adopted that methodology. >> thank you. >> senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for meeting make -- with me yesterday, general. i believe there is more flexibility needed to do what is needed. to look at the situation on the ground and determine the decisions we make. you mentioned before, kabul cen tric that we might come if we found ourselves in a situation, what would that do in these
3:02 am
areas if we wound up in that situation? >> the plan is that when we go kabul center, we would work in the course through rta. that they have the capacity to sustain a fight there. we would continue the ta inside kabul at the ministry level. >> when you look at the numbers we need and there is obviously no exact number as you go month to month and take a look coming determine what you need, what are your best ballpark, where we need to be in 2016, 2017? >> i provided those options to my senior leadership. i would rather discuss that in a classified session. >> that would be fine.
3:03 am
as you look at helmet and nor istan, what is or definition of success in those areas say at the beginning of 2017? >> the afghan security forces have sufficiently contained the insurgency. the governors are providing the necessary governance to the people of that particular province. without going into great detail, i see great work happening today. i was there thursday. i will discuss more in a classified hearing what we get --what to do. >> when you look at the taliban and their goals, what are the things that give them hope and
3:04 am
how do we eliminate those things? >> president ghani has said 70% of the taliban want to come back and get into the peace process. they are tired of the fight. a lot of their leadership is disenfranchised. i think now with a new national government that almost 85% of the people in that country, there is no reason the taliban cannot come to the table and talk and be part of the political process. the president has reached out to him to do that. there'll always be a small portion of is an irreconcilable. i think president ghani continues to work this very hard. they are engaging in many of the tribal elders, showing them the government can provide to the people and that i think is what the taliban once. they want a government --
3:05 am
wants. >> i want to thank you and your team because, when i was there last year, it was a question -- no question from the military as to whether the afghans would hold. there was concern. from everything we have seen, the way it was laid out, we have hit our metrics and more. would you agree with where we are and the metrics we have laid out? >> i would. not be metrics but the metrics we work with. from the numbers to the level the army is training, they had taken over all of the training. there is a difference of the motivation from the leadership they understand it and not have as many of the coalition forces and they have to take this on
3:06 am
and they want to take this on. i have talked before about their special operating capabilities being white good. -- quite good. guys getting out the back, they have little devices, talking to another and telling them they have an insurgent coming. it is a remarkable capability they have. they do not stand a chance with that capability. they continue to get better. >> thank you for your hard work on the pakistan peace. i know how hard you're working on it and as he continued to get that in a better place, i think the whole area becomes a better place. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman and
3:07 am
thank you general for being here. i appreciate your service and the conversation you had with me yesterday. to follow up on the comment on the taliban, these think they will make significant movements to reassert control to territories and how important what the mission be there to counter that? >> the taliban are a resilient force. they have the issues but they continue. some of the remote areas outside the cities it is very hard to have the afghan security forces. they go after small targets whether it is local police away from the village, they see that, they attack that. there are reports they will take
3:08 am
over a district center. when i was there, they would take over a district center and the security forces would not be of her to take that back. today, all of the district centers are owned by afghanistan. the insurgents were to attack the difference today is that the police and army would get back back in six hours. -- get that back in six hours. our ct capability is the best and the road. -- in the world. we continue to have that as one of our missions. i can give you more information in a classified peace. >> the believe al qaeda will see increased pressure? >> i think you have to continue to keep the pressure on aq. over the last several years and
3:09 am
four or five months ago particular, the pressure we have had on al qaeda has been quite good. part of that is based on what pakistan has done, the big operation they have had going on since june. it has forced people into afghanistan. our ct capability is quite good. >> we spoke about the capability gap of the afghan forces. do you feel that that is going to have an adverse operational impact on them? >> i think we will continue to work that and close that gap. the places they had gaps, it is hard for the u.s. army, the afghan army. we have built and programs over the last several years. in some places, we provided them too much. you provided them a program that they are not going to get to.
3:10 am
now, we come back and say, how can we adjust this? what will work best afghanistan? that is what i see now. it is very hard for us to do that for any army. the way they distribute equipment is tough but they understand how important it is so we continue to work that intelligence. i see them work in the intelligence room very well. they are in stovepipes. today, they have many fusion cells that bring them together like we have done in the past. that will give them a greater capability. therefore's continues to grow. -- their air force continues to grow. it will allow us to be able to continue to transition out. what president ghani has told me is our greatest legacy will be the systems and processes we provide afghanistan. >> are there some missions they
3:11 am
just will not be able to do? >> i think there is some areas we have to continue to work with the afghans to make sure they have the confidence. i have no doubt they have the capability to do all of the missions required but sometimes come it is the leadership, the confidence the leadership brings to be able to do that. they have had many people around for years and years. president ghani retired 48 generals yesterday. when he first took over, he retired 15. that opens it up for some of these young, bright, energetic officers they have in the afghan army that have been trained in the u.s., the u.k. germany, to assume leadership positions. president ghani is enabling the ability to do that. they hold them accountable. leadership makes a difference.
3:12 am
>> and i correct in saying it is an all volunteer army? what the retirement of these generals, that should encourage more enthusiasm within the ranks as well? >> i think we will see there is hope to continue to move up. they see there is room to move and it will continue to energize some of the long -- young lieutenant colonels. it is an all volunteer army like ours. they do not have issues with recruiting. the issues they have are they have only been recruiting in the winter. we want to get them to recruit on a sustainable basis the entire year. we are working through that now. >> thank you very much. >> senator shaheen. >> thank you for your service and for being here today. i am struck by the tables that are provided in your testimony
3:13 am
about both the changes in afghanistan society as a result of the last 13 years. i think most of us as politicians would love to have 70% of afghans express confidence in their new government. 64% believe it is unlikely that the taliban will return to power. 55% believe their country is headed in the right direction. do you have a sense of what would happen to the way afghans feel about the progress in their country is the united states withdrew all of our troops and support? >> the afghans i talked to continue to express appreciation
3:14 am
for the sacrifices of our men and women, express appreciation for what the coalition especially the united states, has provided to them over the last 13 years. the difference between iraq and afghanistan is that afghanistan people and the government do not want the coalition to leave. to the average afghan, if they see us continue to go at that pace, it would lower their more i'll, give them a -- ormo rale. the afghan senior leadership continues to tell the afghan people there are ways to mitigate, we continue to get better, we appreciate the support, but this will be an afghan side. there is a balance. they absolutely do understand the sacrifices we have provided and there is a difference between this leadership we have today and the leadership a couple months ago. >> you talked about the efforts
3:15 am
of president ghani and ceo abdullah to reach out to the taliban and try to begin some sort of negotiations. can you give us any insight into how far along that is? >> i would rather discuss that in a classified setting. >> to what extent are the taliban -- do we see signs their influence about what is happening with isil and the new reports that isil has begun to infiltrate the taliban? >> the taliban and isil are like this. they want to fight each other. you do have some taliban and that phyllis and franchised -- from the taliban that feel this and franchised. they see isis as another way to
3:16 am
gain resources. you do have some of them breaking off and claiming allegiance toward isa's. a lot of -- isis. we have seen some of the recruiting, some the talk of it at some of the universities. it is a concern to president ghani and me. we continue to work that.
3:17 am
president ghani has talked to the afghan people about it. he has talked to the afghan security forces about it. i have made it a party information requirement for my forces so we continue to work hard with our afghan partners to make sure we understand this network. >> a final question. most of the discussion has been about how the national security forces are doing. and you comment on what is happening with local police efforts and to what extent they are professionalizing their operations? >> i can talk more about kabul. about 14,000 police there. they continue to work hard on the training, on trying to do more community policing. these high profile attacks inside of kabul --what you did
3:18 am
hear about and the late december time frame is very tough. it is death to stop two people from having suicide vests. what you do not hear about are all of the number of attacks the number of people that have been arrested by the afghan police inside of kabul that did not result in hapa. that number compared is quite high. one of the things we can work better is to make sure afghanistan publicizes this. the police do quite well because of their ability to work with the afghan people to get after these threats. i think they continue to progress. not only did the afghan police
3:19 am
or the city, but the forensics. i visited a lab where they do fingerprints, take a look at rifle rounds. they have gotten quite good at their technology on forensics. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chair. general, thank you so much for joining us here today. i know i do not need to say anything to boost your self-esteem but i do want you to know how widely respected you are amongst the men and women that have served under your leadership. we greatly appreciate that and thank you very much for your service. all of us on the panel appreciate you being here. you are in a very difficult position at a very tentative time as we move forward in this transition. one thing that has been of great concern to me is ensuring that
3:20 am
as our united states armed services are moving or transitioning out of the more leadership type positions that we do have the afghan capability to back it up. logistics is always a great concern of mine. i did ask the panel yesterday some thoughts on what just ask -- on logistics and a great comment that came from admiral olson is that is -- do they have those capabilities
3:21 am
without that united states support? >> thank you for your service as well. we continue to work the logistical piece. we identify this as a gap. maintenance in the u.s. army, we continue to have contractors in many places. a lot of that in the aviation realm. we do have that in afghanistan. we work hard to build the mechanics, the right level of personnel to build the equipment. that will take time and we continue to build that capacity for the afghans. i think they will continue to have a small portion that will need contractors to work some of the very tough uses of equipment. i think they continue to grow that capacity. i saw some training in the maintenance area and went into one of the maintenance bays.
3:22 am
they had several mechanics working. these are men working on these vehicles. they were doing quite well. their issue was not getting the right parts. as we did a deep dive on that, the issue is how they distribute departs from the warehouses, get them down to the corps. we are working that very hard. i went into a warehouses inside kabul. they had all of the things they needed in their. i told president ghani, we have to get the commanders in there. the culture inside of afghanistan, they get this in there, hold on to it. they understand the impact it will have on the fight. i think the senior leadership has moved that well in the recent weeks and are using the wintertime to make sure that all
3:23 am
classes continue to move out to where the units need to build for the fighting season. >> a we see the afghans are picking up more of the maintenance. i am pleased to hear that. i have been very concerned about that particular piece of it. will we see a transition and a way her -- away from american contractors to more national contractors of the not region? one thing president ghani had made clear with his meeting with us was that if there were not united states troops there, he would like to see more u.s. contractors. do you have a feel for if it would be our contractors serving or would it be more of a local force?
3:24 am
>> you probably have 34,000 contractors. 10,000 are probably afghan contractors. they continue to try to work that number. that will go down significantly this year and we continue to try to make sure we have afghans tied into this. we build that to make sure they can sustain that over time. >> thank you very much. >> senator cain. >> thank you for your great service. i'm incredibly heartened by the progress. we just have to tell this story. this is something americans should be proud of. we should thank those his serve in afghanistan because this progress has been hard one. just two items -- the increase in life expectancy is virtually
3:25 am
unheard of. you can look across human history, you will not see the life expectancy increase of that kind in such a shortperiod of time. they have gone from 0% to 28 percent in 15 years. that is impressive. i agree with a bipartisan consensus on this panel. back to maintain this progress. i think it is ok to have a plan but he do adjusted based on reality. you encourage the white house to make some adjustment in terms of the authorities.
3:26 am
it is important afghanistan and because there is a powerful there did about the success in afghanistan that we need to apply around the globe. there is a contrasting narrative to iraq and afghanistan. iraq did not want to stay. we did not stay. they then run a government of national disunity. the situation in iraq went to hell in a handbasket. u.s. and others are playing a leadership role. 77% think that the coalition staying and helping is a good thing. these are places to -- people who chased the soviet union out of the country. they want the u.s. to stay.
3:27 am
we are the partner of choice. you see that it's an interesting places in the world today. india, what has had a tradition of nonalignment now does more military exercises with the united states than with any other nation. they are seeing us whether it's training or any other platform. they are now viewing the u.s. military as their partner of choice. i think success in afghanistan we have to make it conditions based. we have to stay and harvest the value of success because we are showing that the united states is the partner of choice. a couple concerns, i was in afghanistan in 2006, my guard men and women and the then
3:28 am
ambassador said you have let iraq take your eye off the ball in afghanistan. iraq pulls our attention away. at that point we were worried about the same thing happening. i have been calling on congress since june, we need to be in this battle against isil, but i am nervous and i think we do need to use history as our guide and not let the battle against isil deflect any attention from afghanistan and our continued need to harvest and accelerate the gains. that is just and from editorial comment. we're trying to make sure we will not take our eye off the ball. you indicated that you don't think the taliban and an x essential threat.
3:29 am
-- an x essential -- existential threat to the government. it can exacerbate sectarian divisions as people think one group gets more than the other talk about the administration's attack onit can corruption. >> i do agree that corruption could change the entire dynamic. he ran and dr. bella ran on the idea that they would have to get after corruption. one of the first things he did was reopen the kabul bank case. they help to people -- held people accountable there. he has taken corruption into that. i think he and the doctor, that is everything they do as they select new leadership and select new companies, on and on they
3:30 am
take corruption in hand. how bad that has been and how that impacts the nations for the next several years he has told me in private that he works 20% interest security and 40% on the economy and i know as part of that, the corruption piece comes on both sides. but he worked hard to make sure that they pick people who were not corrupt and dr. bula does the same thing. they want to remain apolitical they want to make sure anyone who's corrupt is outside of their leadership. they want to make sure they can do everything he can to get rid of corruption. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> center cotton.
3:31 am
-- senator cotton. >> thank you for your brave service. i and all people are very grateful for what it you have done. you're the little over 10,000 troops in afghanistan, correct? >> that is correct, the requirements for the nato mission is about 12,000. >> most americans who did not serve it drove the military and see it and experience it through movies and television, if you look at the recent movie "american sniper," chris kyle is giving overwatch to marines kicking down doors is what they have in mind when they think about our operations in iraq and afghanistan, do you have many or any infantryman or others
3:32 am
conducting those operations in afghanistan today? >> i have men and women that continued to provide drone force protection. we do not plan offenses combat operations at all. i have to make sure the men and women are on the count that -- combat outpost that they have the ability to provide their own protection. they do have to have a ground offensive. >> it is fair to say you have more troops providing things like ariel support -- aerial support, brigade division, things like that? >> as opposed to --? >> dismounted or combat patrols. >> we have the ability to provide force protection and at
3:33 am
the same time provide the requisite expertise to do the isr mission. that ties hand in hand with force protection. isr is a great force protection enabler. >> i think the distinction between the type of it from -- and for tremendous typically see in hollywood movies, it is important for those, that they see the difference, that what a lot of what our troops are doing is supporting the afghan security forces. that helps build public support for our continued mission. this is not the kind of war we are fighting that we were a decade ago. that is something we should all be mindful of as we try to marshal more public support. a related point if you could speak roughly, when would be 2015 fighting season end in
3:34 am
afghanistan? when do the conditions become too harsh? >> it depends on the season, the winter season has been very mild. the passes have not closed down between pakistan and afghanistan and many would say today that it is a continuous season. we would look at it as fighting season. the afghans continue to talk in those terms. fighting season is tied around the weather. from the april time frame to the september sign -- timeframe are the traditional months we have seen increase in enemy activity and operations. >> how does that impact the timing of your decision point to recommend that we keep the current troop levels or are able to reduce troop levels further? is there a point at the calendar when you can no longer wait? >> as i talked about earlier
3:35 am
there is a point in physics when i have to start the scoping retrograde equipment to get to a number at a certain point in time. we would call those decision points and i feel comfortable where we are right now that we have flexibility in that plan as we move forward, there will come a point in time. when we have to make a decision by x. >> i will encourage you and the defense nominee to speak out using your best military judgment. you'll find there are a lot of members in this institution, the senate and house of representatives, who would support you and the president's decision to keep at least 10,000 troops in afghanistan because it is in our vital interest. i know the risks -- i know that you know the risks we face in leaving too early, this is not
3:36 am
your first rodeo. and they are embodied in the pictures that you have over there. those are great gains and we should be proud of the effort our troops put into it. i worry about an american city going dark because of a terrorist attack that is launched from afghanistan, the land from which al qaeda attacked us on 9/11 and it is the singular achievement on the war on tire -- terror that we have expelled al qaeda from that area and that they do not return. it is critical to make sure that does not happen. >> thank you mr. chairman, i want to joint my colleagues in thanking you for your extraordinary service to our nation and your dedicated and diligent work in afghanistan over a number of tours following the very worthwhile look -- work done by your predecessors.
3:37 am
i want to cover some of the points that you and i discussed a little bit yesterday when you were kind enough to visit my office. first of all, on the relationship with afghanistan the source of the improvised explosive devices, ied's, that so ravaged our troops in such large numbers and yesterday in the hearing we had with ambassador cunningham and former ambassador crocker, they indicated -- or more precisely, ambassador cunningham indicated that ied's continue to be a problem. would you agree they are a continuing military threat to the afghanistan forces as well as our own? >> thank you for the question. i would tell you that ied's have
3:38 am
become the weapon of choice not only in afghanistan, but any insurgency or terror attack. something that started years ago has been picked up and continues to move, is not only afghanistan but will continue to be a threat to both coalition and afghan security forces. we do work very hard at the counter ied capability of our afghan forces. i can get you the statistics, but the number of ied's continues to get better and better. as they are continued to be trained, it gets better and better. that is noteworthy. >> would you agree that the primary source of those ingredients continues to be pakistan and that they have done less than they could and should to stop the flow of those bomb making ingredients across the border? >> there is ample material
3:39 am
inside of afghanistan to build ied's, there are reports of what it takes coming in from afghanistan, i have talked to general hill as well. they have been impacted by the threat of ied's on their own forces and civilians, they understand they have to go after that as well, the afghanistan would tell you that some of the parts and materials have come from pakistan, yes or. -- yes sir. >> that is perhaps an area where the coalition forces can even impose greater cooperation with pakistan? >> absolutely. one of the things that pakistan has done for our afghan forces, i don't think it is scheduled yet but the general has reached out to the chief of the army in afghanistan and offered up counter ied training inside
3:40 am
afghanistan for the afghan forces. >> you and i spoke about the possibility of purchasing helicopter parts and components for the m i-17's that afghanistan now has, purchased by the russians, financed with taxpayer funds, from other sources either intra-europe or elsewhere, is that an effort you will pursue -- is that an effort that you will pursue? not only helicopters that parts and components for helicopters for the afghan forces. >> as you know pi 17 is a critical component for the air force, and to continue to keep them flying and in the fight it will be a continued focus. we want to make sure we do that within the authorities that i have to make sure that we
3:41 am
acquire those parts in the right way. >> in the right way means, the russian export agency that has sold the afghans so many helicopters with our money? >> we are trying to help the afghans work through their process to make sure they get their parts to build a sustainable capability in afghanistan so once we are gone they can do that themselves. >> one last question, i know that you have focused on the health care needs -- particularly the mental health care needs of the brave men and women under your command, i want to thank you for that effort. thank the united states armed forces for their increase focus and attention to that issue. thank you again for your service. >> thank you sir. >> senator rounds. >> thank you mr. chairman.
3:42 am
general, thank you for your service, we appreciate the comments yesterday so far today i have just a couple of questions. last year was the deadliest in the war, more than 5000 soldiers and police being killed. they were going out on more than four times as many operations as last year musso more casualties could be expected. how does the increase in the operations, up by more than four times, affect the complexity of training that still needs to be developed? >> are you referring to the capabilities for the medical these to reduce the number of casualties? >> you are losing soldiers right now, at the same time you are trying to train them up. when you lose them at this rate, how do you bring them in and get them set up? >> thank you for the question.
3:43 am
probably a 5% to 7% increase. most of those was actually on the afghan local police, they are outside on the far places of afghanistan designed to protect individual villages, they are not equipped with the same kind of heavy weapons and training of the other police. the taliban have recognized they are a threat because they are inside the villages and are against the taliban so they have gone after those key targets. the ability to recruit and train the afghan's has not been an issue both on the army side and the police side. the issue they need to work on is the number of females they continue to bring in, for the most part they don't have issues recruiting. we are trying to continue to lower the number of those who
3:44 am
died of their woman's, we are increasing capabilities on the medevac. -- died of their wounds, we are increasing capabilities on the medevac. they have combat lifesavers, the medics where insignias to recognize them as medics. they continue to put as many folks in the terrain as they can. they understand this is an issue for morale and leads toward readiness issues, everyone is working this very hard. i've talked personally to the surgeon general in a one-on-one session to make sure we can do everything we need to do to help them build that capability. i've talked to the chief officer and he is concerned and is concerned about the number of people they sent to school to make sure they get the medical training they can. >> is the coordination different between kabul and the local
3:45 am
governments as well? is there a coordination between the central government and the local units of government when it comes to this training? >> i will have to come back to that and take it for the record. i can talk as far as the military side, cannot talk to you of the civilian peace. i have looked at afghan hospitals inside of kabul to make sure they can take some of the military casualties. the military have their own hospitals, we just finished another one that is quite good, i couldn't tell you that kind of coordination between the. i know there are am oh you's or memoranda -- i know there are mo u's, or memorandums of understanding. they do bring in casualties to the military hospitals as well as work them there. if you are referring to that coordination, they do that. >> i yield back my time.
3:46 am
>> thank you mr. chairman. general, thank you, i am sorry i had other meetings, but i appreciate you being here. we hear an awful lot about what is going on and what happened in iraq and we fell backwards and lost mozul and you would think all the money we spent on training and equipping would have been put to better use. now we have afghanistan and will be back at the end of the year to 5500. briefly, what do you think it will take us to maintain a presence so we don't fall backwards in afghanistan and what you think will maintain to get iraq back to where it can sustain itself? >> the key for afghanistan is to continue to build on the capacity of afghan forces so
3:47 am
they have the requisite skill sets to make sure they don't do what the iraq he army did which is fall apart. they have leadership and training, i don't see that happening in afghanistan. >> but it seems like it takes our presence for that to happen. when our presence is gone, we should of seen maliki falling apart and not having anything as far as a contingency plan. back home in west virginia come a they want to know do we have to go back and do it all over? can we prevent that in afghanistan? >> i believe the afghan security forces are not going to let afghan go the way of iraq. they've told me that in the senior officials in the army and police tell me that, they believe that strongly and they have a government that wants to continue to work with national forces and to provide requisite resources for leadership to not
3:48 am
go down that route. as i told you before they went through the election, people thought they would fracture along ethnic lines and they did not and they are proud of that. i don't see that happening with continued training and continuing to build up the afghan forces, i do not see that happening. my other concern is the economy and i've always believed, and i've been there myself, their economy was about $4 billion, that was their economy as far as afghanistan. that went from $4 billion to $20 million based on american input of money and the war effort we put there. their economy is wrapped around us. that had continued to grow and was spiking up to 14.4% growth rate in 2012. then it fell to 1.5% growth rate
3:49 am
growth. the production increased i-17 percent, it is important that opium traffic business makes up 1/5 of the afghan legitimate gross to mythic product. how will the country ever be a to stand up on its own. when the drug trade is so profitable, how can we divert them from the drug trade? if they don't have the war effort in the money we are pumping into it, where can they stabilize their economy? >> that is where leadership will make a difference and with the president there understanding the issues she has with the narcotics and the drug smuggling , going after that and providing the right leadership in the right resources will continue to help. he is going after this entire piece on the economy.
3:50 am
he knows he cannot do it just within afghanistan, but years and years on the rolled, -- road -- years and years down the road, they will get much better. he knows they will be dependent on the donor nations for the next several years, but he has reached out to the entire region to help him on the economic realm. when he first visited pakistan he talked about security, economics and intelligence and people to people. that is foremost on his mind and he has a background in the world bank. if there is anybody who can turn afghanistan around it will be president gotti but it will take considerable time. >> -- president ghani, but it will take considerable time. >> my time is just about up but i want to talk about the precious metals, china has been
3:51 am
a player over there to harvest that. my time is up but i would like to talk to you more in detail about that. >> senator tillis. >> thank you mr. chair and general campbell thank you for your distinguished service. to me, the positive humanitarian impact we have seen in afghanistan since 2001, i hope the media and american people understand the miraculous turnaround of this country. just to go back and note the life expectancy you're talking about from 43 years old to 64 years old am a schools we had fewer than 900,000 students, virtually none of them women, now we have 8 million, the numbers here are startling. to a certain extent, we all know that what we first and foremost have to do is implement a strategy in afghanistan to
3:52 am
prevent terrorists from preparing themselves to launch attacks like they did on september 11. that should be the first priority. i also think that those who have a precipitous drive to withdraw from afghanistan forget the tragic humanitarian crisis that would be created if we did that, and i hope we start weaving into the narrative, this is not just about national security but this is about a city that went from a city of ruin to a city of life. there is a lot of hope there and i think the afghani people are looking to the united states to let them continue to make the progress they are in a position to make. my question relates to -- chairman mccain reference one of our members talked about flexibility and you talked about some changes you recommended to leadership. are the changes you recommended
3:53 am
substantially aligned with what president gotti is wanting in terms of the current strategy? >> -- president ghani is wanting in terms of the current strategy? >> i think he would support the options i presented. >> how do you feel about how those options have been received by your leadership or the administration, and other words to what extent do you think they will be acted on and you will be given authority to act on the options you have recommended? >> we are in discussions and there is a process we go through , the bridging strategy that the president allowed the thousand
3:54 am
bridging strategy to continue with the resident support business i feel good very good about where we are at. >> are there fundamental shifts in certain areas based on the current strategy? >> i characterized as i said to this committee, when i got on the ground i would make continuous assessments and i've had six months on the ground to make those assessments where our forces are, where the threat is and what has changed in afghanistan and based on that, provided this flexibility that both president ghani has asked for and that will stay within where we need to be. >> the trajectories that you would create by looking at the taliban in 2001 and afghanistan
3:55 am
and the current situation, do you believe that if we stay on the current course that we can expect these positive trends to continue at their same pace? or will their progress going forth be impeded? >> in some arius we will continue to have the same pace or increased -- in some areas we will continue to have the same pace or increased. some may stay the same and others may go lower. >> any particular areas you think may be at risk, and any you're able to say are a clear risk at the current strategy? >> sir are you talking about -- >> more on the humanitarian side. >> i feel comfortable that the afghans have worked with many of the nations, to build their own capability and capacity. i would leave that to ambassador
3:56 am
mckinley and his folks but i think they have built the capacity in many of those areas and i would feel very comfortable that most of them would continue to stay where they are at continue to grow. >> i want to thank you and the men and women who have served over there and i hope they realize that is why the pictures are looking the way they are looking. >> senator graham. >> the charts that you provided are really just stunning returns on investment. the question for americans, what does it matter that young girls are going to school in afghanistan -- it matters a lot because you can't kill all the terrorists, but if you can allow young people to see a better future, they will be more resistant to the taliban. what is it matter you have access to clean water? it means you have something to live for.
3:57 am
-- go back to the taliban days that they lost capacity to contain and effete taliban -- defeat the taliban. >> i think if they cannot defeat them, that would be the only way. >> do you support afghan security forces for the softy able -- for the foreseeable future? >> it continues to be the right number and right distribution throughout the country. >> the cost would be what? >> we are working hard, it is about 4.1 billion this year work hard to save where we can and i think about $3.8 billion is what i came up with for 16. >> it is in our national
3:58 am
interest to spent $3.8 billion to sustain this force? >> i think the small investment for the afghan security forces continues to provide the ability to protect our country and provide for a more stable afghanistan. a safer afghanistan is a safer united states. >> i don't know what $3.8 billion is of the total federal budget, probably not a lot but it is a lot to me but i think the return on that investment is a norm us. we keep their army -- is enormous. we keep their army intact and they will keep fighting. the president suggested that when he visited the united states he would like the opportunity to thank the american people and suggested whether or not a joint session of congress appearance would be possible, you think that would help the overall relationship? >> president ghani thanks the american people everywhere, if
3:59 am
he had the opportunity to do that with the joint session of congress that would be good. >> a lot of us were on the trip will send a letter, this is the one appearance i think we would all support. i cannot tell you how hopeful i am under president ghani's leadership that we are smart enough to see this through and i think we will have a good outcome. i will be sending that letter along with my colleagues. if we go down to 5500 as planned, are we out completely? >> if we go to 5500, we go to couple centric, yes or -- kabul -centric. >> is not just a spot on the map it is the spiritual heart of the taliban, correct? >> if we hold onto that -- >> that is correct. >> if we hold on to that, they
4:00 am
cannot come back? >> yes or. >> -- yes sir. >> if we lose that will it have a splintering effect? >> it will provide the taliban momentum. >> and you believe with a presence that is relatively small we can secure the gains we have achieved and it would be smart to keep that presence at least for a while longer? >> i think we need to continue to provide the forces the special operating capabilities. >> do you agree with me that this part of the world is a dangerous part of the world. that it is tremendously beneficial to protecting -- >> i agree with that. >> do you agree with me that in iraq there is no debate about
4:01 am
afghanistan, the only question is will we accept the invitation in the right format. let's end this discussion with what the people want us to say. >> the afghan senior leadership on the military side has told me repeatedly that they appreciate our sacrifice and they would want us to stay. >> that is true of their political leadership also? >> that is true. >> and it is in our national interest to stay? >> as i talked about in the opening, a safer, secure afghanistan provides safety for the homeland and we have not had another 9/11 since we have been deployed and the pressure that the brave men and women continue to apply to the terror networks have prevented them from coming to the united states, i do believe that. >> senator lee? >> thank you very much, general
4:02 am
campbell, being here, thank you for all you do to protect our country and keep us safe. the mission in afghanistan as stated in the 2001 authorization for the use of military force was to use force against all nations, organizations and individuals deemed to have been involved in the planning authorization and commission of the attacks of september 11 or to have perpetrated them or 12 harvard those who did -- or to have harbored those who did. so the point was to prevent attacks against u.s. citizens. today, what can you tell us about the capacity of terrorist groups who may be operating in afghanistan and pakistan to launch attacks against the
4:03 am
united states and how have the capabilities and the ambitions of those groups trended over the last five years? how does it look today as opposed to five years ago? >> i want to give you a very general answer years? , and i would prefer to go to a classified session if you want more detail, but my read would be that based on our presence inside afghanistan with great counterterrorism capabilities, we continue to keep pressure on insurgents that would want to do harm with both afghanistan and other nations that include europe and the united states. i think over the last several years, we have been able to keep that pressure down or keep that pressure on them and that has limited their ability to launch planned attacks against our homeland. >> you feel good about the improvements that have been made on that front? >> sir, i do.
4:04 am
>> where -- >> i feel good about the last six months that have seen on the ground in afghanistan on that. >> you had seen more progress in the last six months -- >> i have been over there for the last six months i can talk about a perspective of seeing for myself but cannot talk about before that. >> i understand, thank you. where have the insurgent groups fighting against the afghan government, where and how are they generating their funding weapons and recruits? what are we as united states and u.s. armed forces doing to disrupt those networks of funding? the supply chains for their arms? >> i would rather givedisrupt those networks of a broad general answer and discuss more in detail in the classified hearing.
4:05 am
as we mentioned before some of it comes from the drug trade some of it from minerals, some of it from other wealthy nations, some of it from weapons smuggling's and a long list of things that provide insurgency funding within afghanistan, i think that both president ghani understands that and dr. abdullah of the security forces understands that. >> what is your understanding of the -- >> i think they have both worked very hard to help the government, they have both given up a little bit to remove afghanistan -- to move
4:06 am
afghanistan forward. they couple met each other. president ghani has taken on the role of commander in chief and he has told all the chiefs of the army that there welfare is his welfare. his personally involved in every facet of the leadership, how they get resources and he continually goes to different sites to show the afghan army that he is their commander in chief, so he is showing that he cares for them and everything about them which i had never seen before. >> is the afghan government, in your opinion, on track to increase their level of word and sharing -- burden sharing? >> this year they showed us that they could provide the requisite amount we asked them to do, it will take continued time on their entire holistic economic
4:07 am
approach and president ghani knows he cannot do that just by himself, that he has to engage with the region. very dependent not only on the united states but the other donor nations. he will see whether he attacks this problem by visiting himself and other key leaders in the region. he talks about different agreements is making to transport agriculture outside afghanistan and to take a look at the mining industry, he is engaged. thank you general. -- >> thank you general. >> thank you general and mr. chairman. thank you again for your service and all your staff. in your opening comments, what you said about service, sacrifice and success are very powerful i think they're
4:08 am
important for the american people to know and i appreciate your emphasis on military families and their sacrifice and the unsung heroes of the last several years. i think one of the general themes that you are seeing is that people are applauding the success. we had general medicine last week -- general madison last week talking about the success he has seen in a whole host of areas that you listed, could be reversed, that they are fragile in many ways. the broader issues we are concerned about is a replay of what happened in iraq. as a military leader, senator kaine spoke eloquently about this a couple minutes ago. you think it is important to have condition based withdrawal dates or transition dates based
4:09 am
on success that you have been talking about, versus a calendar-based withdrawal? >> thank you for the question. it is important that the military commander on the ground be able to provide his best advice to senior leadership as he takes a look at the variables on the ground. the situation of the afghan security forces and those types of things. i've continued to do that for the last six months and provided options in the winter review process to my leadership that allows us the flexibility so that president ghani and the afghan people will continue to keep us on the road to success. >> so your approach is definitely conditions-based versus a date on the calendar that says we are leaving? >> there are a lot of conditions that go into the recommendations and to provide time is one of them. >> the other thing that is a big
4:10 am
responsibility for all of us for you and those of us in the congress, is when we are looking at our challenges, that we level with the american people, they want to know what the challenges are and they want to know we have a strategy. i think you are at the demise in that cut -- epitomizing that kind of attitude that is important with these challenges. the message that you and the president sent -- in a lot of discussion today, we have been talking about a u.s. counterterrorism mission. he says the combat mission is open -- over but we are talking about a counterterrorism mission. i think it is very important for the broader strategic applications in terms of protecting the homeland but isn't the u.s. ct mission a
4:11 am
combat mission right now? >> there is no doubt that the u.s. forces in afghanistan and the nato, one is a training mission and the other is a counterterrorist mission. there is no issue from the president down that we have that mission. >> i know this isn't your focus but it does seem to be a disconnect between what the president is telling the american people, we are done with combat operations and yet we have an important ct mission we are still undertaking. a disconnecti think this goes with leveling with the american people on what we are actually doing. in terms of a robust ct mission can that be supported by the current troop levels? >> i don't think i used the word
4:12 am
robust, but we have downsized our ct capability over the last several years, just as we downsized the other forces out there. i do think we have the requisite resources to continue with the current mission. >> would you in twice 16, if we are on this trajectory? >> i would have to make sure we have the flexibility. i think right now i would have to go back and make sure that was within the options we provided. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> general, we thank you for being here, i enjoyed our conversations and visit christmas time when i was with you in kabul. every witness before this committee and every retired military man or woman believes
4:13 am
that we cannot have a calendar-based withdrawal from afghanistan. we certainly don't want to see what the president described in 2000 14 am a a normal embassy presents -- in 2014, a normal embassy presence just as we have done in iraq. i am keenly appreciative of your role in the decision-making process as a leader, but it is clear that unless we change what is the course we are on, we are going to have enormous difficulties in afghanistan and i appreciate those pictures. it is also a fact that you cannot go downtown kabul without armed escort.
4:14 am
what we thought would connect all of afghanistan is not safe in many parts, the taliban control it. yes there has been a lot of progress, but there are a number of areas, including the fact we still haven't got a handle on this terrible thing where afghans in uniform shoot american military members. we have a long way to go. you have to speak truth to power. not just because of the fact that the situation on the ground argues for condition-based withdrawal but you always to the men and women still serving over there, because if you believe, from your assessment, that if we go to a kabul-based situation i the end of -- by the end of 2019 -- excuse me,
4:15 am
embassy-based situation by the end of 2016, then you have to speak up, because too many americans who already lost their lives and limbs in afghanistan and others have been there since the beginning, we cannot allow their deaths to be in vein. i strongly urge you when you counsel the president to do the right thing and we all know what the right thing is and i thank you for being here today. >> this hearing is adjourned thank you general. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014]
4:16 am
4:17 am
>> the political landscape has changed with the 114th congress . the
4:18 am
quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: i would like to say a word about a remarkable woman in the senate that we'll soon be losing. kathie alvarez the senate's legislative clerk sark bit of a celebrity. every c-span afish onin a dough knows her voice. all she has to say is "mr. alexander," "ms. ayotte," and it is instantly recognizable. kathie has been calling the roll for quite a while. she became the first woman to ever call roll in the senate. in 1999 with senator collins in the chair kathie became a member of the first all-female team to preside over this body. and in 2009 she became the senate's first female legislative clerk. so kathie alvarez has been
4:19 am
making a lot of history since she first arrived here in 1984. and you'll notice, madam president, that every female floor staffer is paying tribute to her today. they're each wearing something with kathie's favorite design: animal print. along with the love of cajun food s.a.r.torial distinction is one thing that louisianans become known for a passion for perfection is another. kathie has maintain add laser-like focus for three decades. that's good news for the senate, because we rely on her and the american people rely on her to ensure that every bill, every amendment, and every message from the house is processed perfectly. that's a lot of pressure. so you can't blame kathie for wanting to retire. i know she's looking forward to spending more time with her husband john and i know that kathie wants to see more of her daughter georgia. it won't be like kathie is
4:20 am
leaving us entirely. we'll still be able to hear her voice on the film every tourist watches when they come to visit the capitol. so the senate thanks kathie alvarez, its history-making celebrity, for her many years of service and we wish the very best to her deputy, john merlino, who steps into kathie's role as the senate's new legislative clerk. [applause]
4:21 am
-- mr. ryan: mr. speaker, i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. ryan: here's what we are trying to accomplish with this legislation today. we are trying to provide some more certainty. small business, they have to be able to plan for the future. charities who are serving those in need, they also have to plan for the future. families need to know whether there's going to be help for them at local food banks. a lot of them look to the tax code ironically, when planning for the future. they need a tax code that's easy to understand. but that is not the tax code we have today. whether we make a tax code more complicated, well, if we do that we are making their lives more unpredictable. that's a disservice to the people we are trying to serve. what would really help would be to fix our broken tax system.
4:22 am
ultimately our goal is to get to tax code that is impler, fairer for everybody. -- simpler fairer for everybody. we still have work to do on that front and life doesn't wait for washington. in fact, washington has a really bad habit of letting really important provisions expire only to renew them retroactively. this has got to stop and we are trying to fix this. so these bills would make several of these provisions permanent. number one, it would encourage charitable giving. number two, it would help to let people contribute to charities from their i.r.a.'s, individual retirement accounts, tax free. number three, would let people deduct food bank donation from their taxes. it would make other changes that make giving less expensive. the quick to the short, mr. speaker, is these are provisions in the code that we know because it's demonstrated, make a big difference. it is so important that we have a vibrant civil society, that
4:23 am
space that stands between ourselves and our government, which is where we live and lead our lives, that is vibrant and that space is there to help people in need. private charity is the glue that keeps our communities together. and in so many instances, private charities thrive on the good will and the donations and the generosity of other people, of businesses. and those businesses are affected by the tax code. and so what we have to do is provide certainty to those businesses who want to be generous, to those people who want to be generous, but to these charities who need some predictibility so they can plan their charitable endeavors. so knowing that this is a bipartisan notion knowing that the good work that is done by these groups is absolutely essential to healing people in our communities, getting people on, getting them where they want to be in life, the least we can
4:24 am
do is provide some certainty so more of this can happen. last year we waited until the end of the year to extend these provisions retroactive to the first of the year but only for that year. oh and by the way, last year we waited until december 11 to tell all these charities, these donors to charities ok, now here's the benefit for the past year but guess what, it already expired at the beginning of this year. so i know this sounds kind of complicated, the point is this is no way to run a railroad. we need to provide families with certainty. we need to provide charities with certainty and that's what this bill does. the part we're going to have a debate here, mr. speaker, is nobody seems to have a problem when we do it one year at a time. no one seems to have a problem
4:25 am
when we quote-unquote pay for it. raise taxes on other people just to keep them the same when we do it one year at a time, but when we say, let's make this permanent, this thing we do once every year, that everybody's fine with, instead of doing it once every year and sometimes retroactively let's do it permanently so people and families and business ks plan, then all of a sudden -- businesses can plan then all of a sudden it's a problem. i don't understand it. it doesn't make sense. who we are serving is not washington. who we are serving are the people who are trying to survive, are the people who are the beneficiaries of these charities, of the charities that are doing the good works. so that's why we're bringing this legislation to the floor. i'm very excited to be a part of this. i want to thank all the members on both sides of the aisle for their hard work in this area and with that i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the chair recognizes the gentleman from michigan. mr. levin: i yield myself such time as i may consume. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. levin: the issues here are
4:26 am
not the merits. that isn't the issue. the issue is whether we proceed this way. proceeding this way is the opposite of bipartisanship. it's very opposite. the chairman has said he wants to find common ground on common aspects. what this does is essentially pull terrain out from under common ground. it's the opposite of a search for common ground. and the president has said he will veto. we have the messages right here once again so it's the opposite of bipartisanship. it's also, if i might say, the opposite of certainty for taxpayers. we went through this last year. these bills will not become law
4:27 am
period. if they were to pass the house and the senate, they would be vetoed. that happened last year. it did not become law. it will not become law this year. these provisions will be continued if we don't pass tax reform. and mr. chairman, you control the schedule. if you don't want to wait until december, do it earlier if tax reform doesn't become a reality. and that's another problem with this bill and these bills. they're the opposite of tax reform. you don't do tax reform in a piecemeal fashion. dave camp to his credit, understood that so he came up with a comprehensive package. in the senate republicans understand this.
4:28 am
senator blunt said last week, and i quote, as long as the finance committee feels there's an opportunity for overall tax reform i think you're going to not see a quick response to individual bills coming over. what could be clearer? what could be clearer? this is also the opposite of fiscal responsibility. so you have here three opposites, really four, and four opposites make a big minus. $14 billion is the cost of this bill. $79 billion the next bill, that's $93 billion. we marked up just a few hours ago in ways and means two more bills, one $42 billion and another one $177 billion. that's $219 billion.
4:29 am
and you add up those over -- up those, over $300 billion in terms of adding to the deficit. there's been some talk about helping the middle class. action is the opposite of platitudes. so where's the action on the child tax credit? where's the action on the eitc, also affecting working and middle-class families? where's the action on the work opportunity tax credit? where's the action on the minimum wage? the answer is we're now several months into this session. a reporter said to me, what's bill number one? i said, i have no idea. how about other bills that really address the needs of the middle class of this country? so we're -- as expressed in
4:30 am
ways and means, so many very opposed to what is really a counterproductive path here. the merits, again are not the basic issue. the basic issue do we want to fly in the face of bipartisanship, fly in the face of certainty for taxpayers, fly in the face of tax reform and fly in the face of fiscal responsibility? we should not be doing that. we should not be doing that. i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves. the chair recognizes the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. ryan: at this time i yield two minutes to the gentleman from ways and means committee, the distinguished gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. kelly. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. kelly: i rise today to speak very well about the conservation tax incentive
4:31 am
easement legs. i get confused of the conversation on the floor. if you do it for a year and two years and don't pay for it, that's good policy, that's good legislation, that's good for america. if you go beyond that time it's not good. this is piece of legislation that came up in 2006. in fact, my colleague, mr. thompson, brought it up. he and mr. camp did it. he and mr. gerlach, who retired, last year did it. i can tell you something about this, it's not only bipartisan, it's bicameral, it's in the president's budget. if you talk about trying to work together to get somewhere isn't this it? isn't this it? sometimes we always try to bend the rules for something else but this is about conservation. this is about allowing a landowner to set property aside. so i don't care if you're a farmer or rancher i don't care if you're a hunter or hiker, i don't care if you like to look at birds or hunt birds, there's over 65 agencies -- associations around the country that say please do more of this. set this ground apart. now if you're a farmer or rancher, you can still work that ground.
4:32 am
all you're saying is this a is set aside. we can't lose this ground. this is so basic as americans saying, let's preserve what we have. let's just keep what we have. let's make sure that our kids can hut and hike and swim. let's make sure that they can fish. let's make sure they can do all those wonderful things that this land affords us to do but then it becomes, gosh this is about politics, it's not about policy. it's good policy. it's never been paid for. i just don't understand why all of a sudden now why is it paid for and i'm starting my third session here but, my god, you would never do this back home. i'm an automobile dealer. i couldn't do this to a customer and say, it's ok now. but later on you have to pay me for it. you gave it to me, no, we're going to take it back. there's millions of acres that have been set aside now. why not give some perm nancy to this? we tax about tax -- we talk about tax reform. let's do what makes sense for
4:33 am
all of america. let's talk about preserving america's ground, making sure it doesn't go underdevelopment. people can still farm it. they can still ranch on it. it just makes good more sense. just a little bit more. thank you. i'm just asking our friends on the other side, let's think about what's good for the people we represent. and not what's just good for the moment. we've always done this in the past. it's only become a problem now because it's not a one-year extender or a two-year extender. now all of a sudden we're saying well let's just let people know it's the way it is until the end of time. you don't want to give anybody certainty. you don't want to give anybody perm nancy. there's no time in my life i would ever say to my friends, my family or anybody i represent this is just a temporary thing for me. tomorrow i may have a change of heart. so i just ask my friends h.r. 641, mr. thompson son this piece. let's make sure we move forward for america. i thank you and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields.
4:34 am
the gentleman from wisconsin reserves. the chair recognizes the gentleman from michigan. mr. levin: it's now my pleasure to yield four minutes to our distinguished whip who's going to supply, if the gentleman will wait here for a very clear answer, mr. hoyer. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. levin: for four minutes. mr. hoyer: the ranking member didn't write my speech so i'm not sure what my answer to the distinguished gentleman's comments, but i'll say this. to my friend, i'm not for one year. i may vote for one year but that's not what we ought to do. it ought to be paid for if it's one year, two years, permanent. there is no free lunch. you are in the automobile business. people come into your automobile store and they say i'd like to have that car for $10,000. and you say look, i paid $20,000 for that car. i can't sell it to you for $10,000. there's no free lunch. unpaid tax cuts are a free
4:35 am
lunch, a pretense that somehow it's just free. but i'll tell my friend, it's not free. the chairman, who was the chairman of the budget committee offered a budget which cut food stamps $125 billion. this bill is called fighting hunger incentive act. $125 billion cut in food stamps and i tell you my friend voted for $40 billion cut in food stamps in the farm bill. i'm not for free lunches. i'm for a lot of these tax cuts, but i'm not for taking it out of the mouths of children and feeding i'm not for talking it for n.i.h., i'm not for taking it out of our national security. we got to pay for what we buy. i vote that way.
4:36 am
the chairman and i were one of five or 18 people one time that voted against a very popular bill. had to deal with social security. and we thought it was not paid for, not fiscally responsible and he and i were one of 18 people in this house voted against it. mr. kelly: if the gentleman will yield for a moment? mr. hoyer: i don't have much time but maybe we can get some more. mr. kelly: i say, i cannot be in more agreement with you. i watched for six years an opportunity in the country with the greatest assets our middle income people suffer the greatest harm they had. if it's really about getting america back to work, putting foods in the mouths of these children, the only way to do that is to have a dynamic and robust economy. that's what i think we need to do. i watched it for six years. it is appalling what we've allowed to have happen in the country that's been blessed with so many things but just bad policy. we can't get beyond the politics. that's what's hurting our people. it's not the fact this is not
4:37 am
being paid for. because we're not manipulating it for a year or two. the whole purpose of why we should be, let's raise all america. let's get everybody looking up, be able to feed everybody. we shouldn't have programs for people that can't take care of themselves because by their very nature we can do that. they have potential. mr. hoyer: i used to have a magic one minute. i don't have it now. we have had bad policy, i tell my friend. terrible policy. mr. kelly: agree. mr. hoyer: i don't know about you but i'm for simpson-bowles. the problem for simpson-bowles for some people, it paid for what it did just like the camp bill. the camp bill made tough choices, and it was a zero sum game in the sense it cut taxes and it paid for them. a zero sum game. just like you had to run your business. because if you didn't run your business that way you would have gone bankrupt. now, i fought for that for a very long period of time and voted that way, as i say one
4:38 am
of 18 with my friend from wisconsin. but i tell my friend, yes, we're following bad policy. this bill you can argue for the merits. i get that. the next bill you can argue for the merits. and the bill after that and the bill after that and the bill after that. and you then caused $600 billion in deficit spending that your kids and my kids will have to pay for because we're too old to be around long enough to pay for it. so i rise against this bill, not because i'm against fighting hunger. everybody ought to be against fighting hunger. mr. levin: i yield the gentleman an additional two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman has another two minutes. mr. hoyer: when you talk about hunger, don't cut food stamps by $40 billion. don't cut $125 from food stamps over the next 10 years as the chairman did. i disagree with that policy and i respect the chairman. i like the chairman. mr. kelly: if the gentleman will yield? mr. hoyer: no. mr. speaker, this is one of two bills that we're considering on
4:39 am
the floor this week to make tax cuts permanent. and it's unfortunate that neither of these bills is paid for. one year or permanently. together they would increase the deficit by $93 billion. nobody's suggesting we're going to pay for that so our kids will pay for it. democrats support extending many of the preferences we're talking about but we're also deeply concerned about america's fiscal future. . i voted that way, not just talk that way. i hear a lot of talk from my friends on the other side but that talk fails to translate into fiscally responsible legislation. we cut the debt from the time i came in under reagan 189%, more than any president that's been president in the time i've been here. we've seen tax bills like this
4:40 am
before when republicans brought them to the floor last congress along with several other permanent tax cuts which would have ballooned the deficit by $600 billion, twice what we'll spend on medical research at n.i.h. i also hear my friends on the other side of the aisle talk about a broken tax system. i tell my friends, that system is going to remain broken, that system is going to remain broken unless we do what camp did. did i agree with what camp did? no, but i respected him for putting together a package of tax reform that gives us what we need. people ought to know. these ought to all be permanent. there are tax cuts that ought to be permanent so people can plan. families deserve the certainty that comes from tax reform not partisan piecemeal reform bills that undermine, undermine tax
4:41 am
reform. that's what roy blunt was talking about. roy blunt has already been quoted soy won't repeat the quote but what he said as long as the finance committee feel there's an opportunity for overall tax reform, i don't think you'll see a quick response to individual bills coming over. that's why this is bad policy. you're not going to get from here to there unless you have a comprehensive bill that makes the tough tradeoffs and summons the courage of this congress to pass meaningful permanent paid for tax certainty for our citizens. i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from michigan reserves. the chair recognizes the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. ryan: i very much respect the majority whip -- the minority whip. it's not one of those buts, i very much respect the gentleman. he's a class act legislator.
4:42 am
i look forward to his support of our coming work from the committee. if he wants to be part of tax reform. and -- mr. hoyer: will the gentleman yield? pll ryan: that was the longest magic minute i think i've seen without the magic minute. mr. hoyer: i've done longer when i had the minute, believe me. i want to tell the gentleman, in all sin centi, i look forward to being able to support a bill that is comprehensive, paid for and gives our citizens an individual -- and individual taxpayers the certainty they need, to have the confidence they need to grow our economy. i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. ryan: thank you. i yield myself two minutes. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. ryan: let me ask about the time allotment, by the way. how much time? who is where? the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from wisconsin has 37 minutes. the gentleman from michigan has 33 1/2. mr. ryan: i yield myself two minutes. normally, mr. speaker, i don't
4:43 am
try to get into baseline issues because it's kind of arcane budget issues, but here's where i think there's an inconsistency or a problem. so people listening to this debate, you know there's a lot of confusion here. if we were talking about a spending bill let's just say the highway trust fund or tanf, temporary assistance for needy families. and it expired and we said, let's just ex-tent this -- extend this bill, this law, and the spending in it at its current levels for another five six years. we wouldn't have to quote-unquote, pay for that. it wouldn't cost anything. it's already in the baseline. if we were basically talking about a spending bill here, none of these kinds of criticisms would be -- would hold merit. would be usable. so here we are talking about taxes. and so i think people are
4:44 am
getting the impression from this debate that we're talking about a tax cut here. that we're talking about doing something to businesses or individuals and cutting their taxes. these are laws that are already on the books. charities. that's what we're talking about here in this particular bill. all we're saying is, don't raise their taxes. that's what we're saying here. the choice before us is fairly obvious. either we raise taxes on small businesses and individuals with respect to charitable giving, or we keep them where they are today and just go raise taxes on somebody else, or we acknowledge reality for what it is is, they have these benefits. they've had these benefits. we all agree they ought to keep these benefits. and every year we -- every year we renew these benefits.
4:45 am
but we do it, giving myself 30 more seconds we do it in such an awful way. we wait until the end of the year, then we do it retroactively or do it one year. nobody knows what's going on. nobody can predict the tax code. nobody can make decisions. as a result these charity, thee families, these small businesses suffer. that's what we're trying to fix here. with that, i'd like to yield three minutes to the gentleman from illinois, mr. stock. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. schock: thank you, mr. chairman. i would just say so much has been said, i'm not sure i'll need three minutes. obviously i'm here to speak in support of a measure that i introduced in this body last july that passed by a two to one majority. that means nearly every republican and tens and scores of democrats, a whole host of democrats, to pass by a two to one majority, voted for almost identical language contained in this bill.
4:46 am
now, the negotiation and the agreement between the house and senate to make this more permanent fell apart. and so we did what we've always done, which is extend it for another year. just a few months ago, just a few months ago republicans and democrats came together in this body to vote on identical legislation to extend it a year at a time. in fact this piece of legislation has been extended four times since 2006. under the same proposal that we're submitting here, just not a year at a time but rather permanent. the same pay-fors or lack thereof written almost identically. so what's at stake? what's at stake is how much the people of our respective districts are going to benefit and whether they will benefit. back in my district, the head of they have galseburg community foundation said when he's meeting with donors, if they can
4:47 am
give them to their i.r.a., as this bill will allow they give four times the amount of goods and services than they would give without the i.r.a. donation provision. four times. this isn't about the donorful it's about the recipient. and so i would just simply ask, why don't we give the certainty not to the donor. but rather give the certainty to the recipient. whether it be food and shelter, whether it be education benefits here in our country and around the world that benefit from this provision, give them the certainty, do what we've always done but do it early and do it now. rather, i would ask anybody who stands up to oppose this, 10 months from now, where will your vote be on a one-year extension? where will your vote be on a two-year extension? what's wrong with making what we've been doing since 2006, a year and two years at a time,
4:48 am
permanent? it's important for us to give the certainty to the beneficiaries and to the communities who benefit from this provision. i urge a yes vote on this and i hope once again as we did last july this body will pass this bill with an overwhelming 2-1 majority. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from illinois yields back. the gentleman from wisconsin reserves. the gentleman is recognized. mr. levin: the answer to the gentleman is we pay for certainty. if you make something permanent, you should pay for it. and that's essentially what our chairman did when he chaired the budget committee. his budget never assumed these provisions were permanently in the baseline. or he would never have been able to say he balanced the budget in 10 years. that's the reality. if you want to add hundreds of
4:49 am
billions of dollars to the budget, you've got to face up to paying for them. otherwise you squeeze out other necessary programs. it's now my pleasure to yield four minutes to a member of our committee a very active member mr. doggett of texas. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from texas is recognized for four minutes. mr. doggett: thank you. certainty, we are told is the key factor here. first words from chairman ryan in support of this bill. i think the first certainty we have here is the knowledge that this bill is part of a package that approved through today is certain to borrow $317.5 billion. that is basically a request to this house and this congress that we approve the borrowing of $317.5 billion and when you look at other measures they have
4:50 am
approved in the past they're really on a pathway to borrowing almost $1 trillion to finance these tax cuts. i believe that certainty is important to taxpayers. i think that when someone pays for medicare and social security they need to be certain that it will be there. they need to be certain that the water that they drink and the air they breathe is not contaminated. they need to be certain that the food that they put on their family's table is safe. that it's been inspected by a meat inspector or another type of health inspector. they need to be sure when they drive home they need to have the certainty that the bridge that they drive over is not going to fall down as it did in minneapolis a few years back. they need to be certain that there is educational opportunity, quality education, for their children. and they need to be able to do
4:51 am
all this without just having to rely on charity. this bill certainly selects a subset of tax provisions that benefit a few americans and gives them preference. and i like some of these provisions. in fact, i'm a co-sponsor of some of these provisions, like the conservation easement. but they are measures that can and should be fully paid for instead of asking for another i.o.u. and because they are select provisions they exclude many working and middle class american families. for example, the american opportunity tax credit, which is based on the principle that we want all americans to be able to get post secondary education in a college or a trade school but a choice that they make and get $2,500 directly off of their tax bill to pay for tuition and books.
4:52 am
the child tax credit that so many american families claim. to help with their children. the earned income tax credit that even president reagan said was a key factor in getting people out of poverty. those are key provisions that were left over on the side and not selected for borrowing or for anything else. it's certain that many americans have been left out of this very costly package. working families do need to depend on more than charity. they need to be able to depend on this congress to respond to their needs. now, there's sell -- seldom a week that goes by in medical research that there's not a gupe here on capitol hill concerned with alzheimer's research or multiple sclerosis parkinson's cancer, aids any number of dread diseases, basically say find a cure for my family member or my neighbor. find a cure before i get this dread disease.
4:53 am
there are groups that come here after the tough droughts we had last year saying the forest service and weather service need more resources in order to deal with the natural disasters associated with climate change. we have been unable to find the funds for our crumbling roads and bridges. we do not have the investment we need from pre-k to post-grad in education. and when you dig another puns of billions of dollars, maybe $1 trillion into debt, it provides an excuse that for many of those who dent believe in those programs -- the gentleman -- the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized for an additional minute. mr. doggett: to say we would love to help you with education for your children. yes, it would be good if we had another meat inspector but we can't afford to do that. so we get to the point that mr. ryan has raised about why is it that we should raise taxes on some in order to maintain some and renewsom expired tax credits for others?
4:54 am
there's two reasons. one is that some people are still not paying their fair share. we've got some multinational corporations that don't pay as much as the people that clean up their offices as a percent of their income. . the second reason is, if we need additional money for our national defense or for our educational and retirement security at home, we have to come up with the revenues to pay for that, if we are to maintain any sense of fiscal responsibility. there are some good provisions in this bill. but we need the certainty that we will not be digging ourselves deeper into debt and preventing our ability to meet other vital national needs for our families. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from michigan reserves. the chair recognizes the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. ryan: mr. speaker i'll yield myself 10 seconds to say, i wonder what the reaction would be if we chose to change the way that spending baseline is treated, such that if any program in its authorization
4:55 am
expired then it would expire on the baseline and you'd have to offset the spending for renewing any program. i'd be curious to see what the reaction would be for that. with that, i'd like to yield 3 1/2 minutes to a distinguished member from minnesota a member of the ways and means committee, mr. paulsen. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from minnesota is recognized for 3 1/2 minutes. mr. paulsen: mr. speaker, i thank the chairman for his leadership on leading the effort to simplify the tax code and give some confidence and certainty to those who use it. i want to rise in support of this legislation, the america gives more act. this legislation is absolutely about helping those who are most in need, those are our charities and our foundations across the country that are working day in and day out to help those that are most in need. there are nam of important tax rules that -- a number of important tax rules that we've already discussed regarding charitable donations but they've always been temporary. we've had these provisions in law, they've already expired. so here we are acting under
4:56 am
retroactivity already. it's time to get rid of these short-term fixes and embrace long-term solutions. this legislation simply makes the provisions permanent, encourages companies to donate food to help feed the hungry, it makes it he's area foreindividuals who might want to -- makes it easier for individuals who might want to use their i.r.a. money to help charitable organizations. it intend advises land owners to -- it incentivizes landowners. i want to address one other provision that's in this bill that i actually offered -- authored with my colleague, mr. davis from illinois. to help simplify the tax code for private foundations. he's been a strong advocate in leading this effort. i think we would all agree that private foundations make a world of difference in our communities. we have them in our states. in minnesota we have 1,400 donations that donate a billion dollars a year an yull to those in need -- annually to those in
4:57 am
need. these are really impressive figures. but the truth is those figures could actually be a lot higher. here's why. the foundation community has come to us and they're telling us that the tax code is discouraging them from actually giving large donations. today these institutions face a really complex cumbersome two-tiered system of taxation that requires them to pay either a 1% or a 2% excise tax on their investment income. but in order to qualify for the lower rate in any given year, they've got to go and donate an amount that's greaterer than the average of their five-year rolling average. from the previous five years. this creates a very perverse disincentive for these foundations to not make any donations of large amounts in times when we might have a natural disaster, when there's economic tough times. absolutely now this is because a large donation in these times would significantly increase a private foundation's five-year average and make it difficult for them to actually qualify for the lower rate.
4:58 am
and also make sure that they're not going to get the lower rate for the next four years. we're eliminating this disincentive by replacing a very complicated two-tier system with a simple, flat 1% excise tax on all private foundation investment income. it's important to simplify the tax planning process especially for smaller foundations, because they're the ones that are spending money on accountants and lawyers to navigate the tax code. when that money could be used -- those are valuable resources that could be used to help give grants to others that need those resources. so this bill simply makes sure the charitable giving decisions are going to be based not on the tax code but on the needs of our community. because the bottom line is, every dollar that these organizations are paying in taxes is one less dollar that they're giving to those that truly need it. thanks again, mr. speaker, i ask my colleagues to join in supporting this legislation and i yield back the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from wisconsin reserves. the chair recognizes the gentleman from michigan. mr. levin: thank you. it's now my real pleasure to
4:59 am
yield one minute to our distinguished leader, nancy pelosi. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from california is recognized. ms. pelosi: thank you, mr. speaker. i thank the gentleman for yielding and for his leadership on helping to have a budget that produces growth, to reduce the deficit. today we're talking about issues in which we are very much in agreement in terms of the policy toward charitable giving. in fact, some of this legislation has been introduced by mr. levin and mr. thompson on the ways and means committee, in fact authoring an amendment in lieu of last night which was rejected by the rules committee, to go forward in a way that is fiscally sound and was paid for. so here is the problem that we have. we all want to have comprehensive tax reform. where we can close loopholes and we can lower the tax rate
5:00 am
and we can have transparency in our tax code. in order to go to the table to do that, as i know there's bipartisan interest in doing so, we should go to the table with as much freedom as possible. and not constrained by taking rifle shots on the floor of the house for certain pieces of the tax code that will cost the whole package the republicans are putting forget is -- forth is about $800 billion. that's a lot of money. it's important for people to know that in our budget, every year, we have a part of the budget that are called tax expenditures. they're well over $1 trillion. some of them are worthy and we want to protect them. certainly charitable deductions fall in that category. but many of them are not.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on