Texas Congressman Asks: "How Much Gravy does Turkey Really Need?"

March 11, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – Speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressmen Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) have protested the Administration’s diversion of billions of dollars from domestic programs in order to secure Turkey’s cooperation in a war on Iraq, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We appreciate the efforts of both Congressmen Emanuel and Doggett to share with their House colleagues the real domestic costs – in areas such as health care and education – associated with this tremendous diversion of funds to essentially pay off the Turkish government for its cooperation with the United States,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.

Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL):
In a statement on the House floor, Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) sharply criticized the White House for seeking to send billions of dollars to Turkey at the same time that the President is telling America’s governors that the federal government has no more funds for health care and education programs.

“I want to meet the person that was negotiating for Turkey. They have done themselves a wonderful job. We finally got ourselves a job plan and economic growth package. The problem is it is for Turkey, not for the United States.”

Speaking to “all the police departments that need money for fire, for all the cities that need assistance for police departments and fire for training on terrorism,” the Illinois Congressman explained that, “Istanbul has their money. So I have come to the conclusion that maybe our States need to apply to Turkey for foreign aid. They have our money.”

The Illinois Congressman added that, “The amount of money that we have now guaranteed for Turkey, $24 billion, is twice the money we spend on Pell grants… The loan guarantees for Turkey, the same amount of money that we have now given Turkey, could make two thirds of the existing tuition free at public universities. These are choices we are making.”

Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX):

In a March 5th address to his House colleagues, Congressman Doggett, who serves on the Trade Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, stressed that, “I think when President Kennedy talked about ‘paying any price in the defense of liberty’ in his inaugural address, he did not have in mind this bill and the bidding at the bazaar in Turkey.” He went on the state:

“Indeed, more and more Americans watching this, and perhaps it is not a very good play on words, are asking, ‘How much gravy does Turkey really need?’ The trade benefits that were in this bill are in addition to what is apparently $15 billion to $30 billion of American tax dollars that will be given to the Turks. Surely if we had $15 billion to $30 billion we could apply it to strengthen our veterans’ health care system.”

He expressed his hope that “the American people could learn how much of our taxpayer dollars are being diverted from education and veterans’ health care and other needs within the United States to give it to the Turks.”

Rep. Doggett’s comments were made during consideration of the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2003 (H.R.1047). This measure is a compendium of over 350 trade provisions drawn largely from legislation introduced by individual Members involving the temporary suspension of duties on narrowly defined products, miscellaneous trade -related items, and technical corrections to the Trade and Development Act of 2000. The House passed substantially the same bill last year, but because the Senate did not adopt a companion measure, it died at the end of the 107th Congress.

Commenting on last year’s legislation, Rep. Doggett explained that, “the Turkish provision, which I questioned last year in committee because the same treatment was not being accorded to Armenia, has, according to the chairman, been dropped from this bill. Apparently, action on trade with Turkey has little to do with what is good trade policy, but everything to do with what constitutes good policy to create a ‘coalition of the billing.’ When Turkey was to be a member of that coalition, it was in the trade bill. Now that its parliament has voted to deny the use of its land for an invasion of Iraq, when over 90 percent of the people of Turkey oppose that invasion, the provision has been unceremoniously stripped from the bill.”

The ANCA has widely circulated an action alert informing concerned individuals of the opportunity to send free ANCA WebFaxes urging Congressional offices to oppose U.S. taxpayer payoffs to the Turkish government.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
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