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[Congressional Record: June 24, 2002 (House)]
[Page H3852-H3857]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                         THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Kerns). Under the Speaker's announced 
policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) 
is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
  Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, as I sat here and listened to the 
gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Osborne), I am made even more proud of the 
folks who represent our side in this great deliberative body that we 
call the Congress of the United States; and the heartfelt plea that he 
makes to the Nation I think is, and the rhetoric, the chosen selective 
rhetoric that he used should certainly be an example for all of us to 
follow in terms of how to explain an issue and a position that stems 
solely out of true moral courage, and really no politics are involved 
at all.
  I guess I would just like to say to I am proud that I know him, and I 
am proud to serve in the same assembly that he serves in today.
  Also, I must add that waiting to address this body and to discuss the 
issues that I have on my agenda today, I have, of course, listened to 
my friends from the other side talk about another issue; and they did 
so at great length, talked about the upcoming debate on a proposal for 
Medicare, specifically for drug benefits, and how we will provide these 
drug benefits to senior citizens in this country. In a way, I think it 
was a great example. It was almost like a class discussion of cynical 
politics 101.
  That is all I could think of while I listened to it. Because, as my 
colleagues know, Mr. Speaker, I have on several occasions sat here 
waiting for my turn to address the body and listened to my friends on 
the other side of the aisle talk about a variety of issues, but in the 
last several weeks, I have noticed that every single time I have been 
here, and to the best of my recollection almost every time that Members 
of the other side have taken the floor, they have done so to attack 
what they call the Republican raid on Social Security and suggests that 
the profligate spending of this Congress for a variety of programs and 
specifically the war on terror will cost us a lot of money, money that 
we do not have and money that we will, therefore, have to borrow from 
the American public. And that is absolutely true.
  They have gone on and on and on and on. If anybody has observed the 
debate in this House over the last several weeks, they have turned 
every single issue that we are debating into a debate on this raid of 
the Social Security trust fund in the hope that they could scare the 
bulk of the voters in this country, especially the elderly voters, into 
siding with them come November.
  Presenting a point of view, a reasoned, logical, truthful point of 
view is one thing, but this attack on the majority party for what is 
perceived to be our predilection to profligate spending, this is what I 
call I guess the cynical politics 101 that everyone should pay close 
attention to this evening and, as a matter of fact, on into the 
November elections.
  For weeks, we have talked about and the folks on the other side have 
condemned this Congress for spending money in the areas I have 
described. Specifically, of course, it is the war on terror, combined 
with the downturn in the economy, that have caused us to go into 
deficit spending; and they have

[[Page H3853]]

condemned this. Forget about the fact that for the 40 years prior to 
this Congress or at least this House being in control of the Republican 
party that we were never ever, ever able to achieve a balanced budget. 
Forget that. While the other side had control, we were in deficit 
spending every single year, and nobody even thought about the 
possibility that might not be good for America. Forget about that.
  Let us now turn to today's discussion.
  We heard for the hour prior to the gentleman from Nebraska's (Mr. 
Osborne) taking the floor that the Democrats have a better plan for 
Medicare and specifically for the drug benefits for American seniors 
and that our plan is too stingy, our plan is complicated by issues of 
choice, the fact that we would give seniors the opportunity to choose 
among a variety of different alternatives for their drug benefit. They 
characterize that as immoral and something that we should avoid at all 

                              {time}  2115

  And they suggest that their alternative plan, one that is essentially 
socialized medicine for all Americans, is better. But I just ask, Mr. 
Speaker, that we all think about this: How can we spend weeks and weeks 
and weeks on this floor talking about the fear of raiding the Social 
Security fund to pay for other programs while completely ignoring the 
fact that the plan being presented by my Democrat colleagues will cost 
about $1 trillion over 10 years, $1 trillion over 10 years, and yet 
that is not, of course, raiding the Social Security trust fund? That 
somehow is figured into a budget, which of course we do not have; a 
budget that they refuse to propose.
  It is a course in politics, as I say politics 101, maybe cynical 
politics 101, that we should be observing tonight, that we should be 
referencing, because it is easy for someone out of power to suggest 
that the majority should do something quite irresponsible. It is easy 
to do that. It is very difficult to govern. The fearful thing I have in 
my heart is that some day they may be in power and do exactly what they 
are suggesting, and that we may turn this entire Nation, the entire 
Nation's health care system over to the Federal Government.
  That is a very alluring thing to a lot of people. They just do not 
want to think about health care costs. This is something so close to 
one's own emotional hot button that it is very difficult to discuss 
this logically, and that is something that we on this side of the 
aisle, I think, try to do often. We try to address these issues from a 
logical standpoint, not an emotional standpoint. But we are always at a 
disadvantage in that debate. It is easier to make the case that no one 
should worry about health care and that the government essentially 
should be relied upon to keep everybody alive forever, to do everything 
possible to keep everybody alive forever no matter how much that costs.
  There are a lot of people out there tonight, I think, Mr. Speaker, 
who would say, yes, I do not care about future generations, and I do 
not care about the war on terror, and I do not care about all the other 
things this Nation spends money on. I care about getting my 
prescription drugs at a lower cost. And if that means passing it on to 
someone else, a younger person, a healthier person, so be it; that is 
the way it should be done. I do not care, because of course I will be 
dead before too long and who knows and who cares what happens after 
  That is a way a lot of people look at this issue, and we hear from 
them all the time. I do. I am sure the Speaker does, and I know all of 
our colleagues do. People tell us, I really do not care about the cost. 
I do not caring about the dollars. We are told that over and over again 
by people who take polls, people who provide some sort of political 
consultation to us. They always say, look, the Republicans get too much 
into detail. Nobody cares about dollars; nobody cares about the detail.
  Well, I guess that may be true; but I cannot avoid that discussion. I 
cannot help but talk about the problems this Nation faces from a fiscal 
standpoint and the degree to which irresponsible spending is a threat 
to the Nation, is a threat to our own security.
  Now, I cannot tell my colleagues that I have all the confidence in 
the world in the Republican plan for Medicare and prescription drug 
benefits, because, in fact, I may be a ``no'' vote on that bill, but it 
is not because I think the Democratic plan is better. I think our plan 
costs $350 billion over 10 years, the Democratic plan $1 trillion. I do 
not think that our plan is that much better; it is just that their plan 
is so much worse.
  I would like to see, frankly, a couple of things. I would like to see 
the government actually get out of the business of determining what is 
the appropriate service that any individual in Medicare can have and 
how much we should pay for that. That is really not my business. I do 
not know what is the best service, and I do not think any bureaucrat 
has the slightest idea how much we should pay for it. But that is the 
Medicare plan that we created in the 1960s. It has grown. It has grown 
so fast that in the first year of its existence it actually surpassed 
what Lyndon Johnson said it would cost us in 20 years.
  It could consume the entire national budget. It easily could do that. 
Health care costs are astronomical. There is no real market. That is 
one problem. The other problem is that everything is exacerbated by 
government bureaucracies. But I am here to say that we need to do a 
couple of things in that area; and regardless of what we do, it should 
not cost us a lot more money.
  It is not something that the Federal Government should actually even 
be too involved in except to say that if there are people who are in 
dire straits, people that cannot afford health care costs because they 
have reached that point in life when they are on fixed incomes and the 
cost of medication and the cost of health care in general has gone 
beyond their ability to pay, okay. Okay. If we just do that, if we just 
focus on that, then we should come up with a true Medicare reform 
proposal that is something like the following:
  The Federal Government should say to everybody eligible for Medicare 
that we will accept a certain amount dollar-wise, in terms of our 
responsibility for their health care costs, and we will give it to them 
in the form of a voucher. They can then use that voucher for the 
purchase of insurance from any of the wide variety of vendors. But our 
job, the Federal Government's job, is not to determine which provider 
gives them the service and how much and how many benefits they should 
derive from their insurance company. That is not our business.
  If we have a responsibility, if this body determines that we have a 
responsibility to older Americans for health care costs, it should be 
in the manner I have described: to say to them, here it is, here is 
what we have determined. Somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000 a year we 
are spending per recipient on Medicare, is what I am told, so simply 
give a Medicare recipient a voucher and have them go out and buy the 
insurance that will cover their medical costs, which includes, by the 
way, the cost of prescription drugs.
  We ought to get out of the business of determining who pays for the 
doctor, what doctor is eligible, what procedure is eligible, and how 
much it should cost. That is a plan for disaster. The other side, the 
Democratic Party, the Democratic suggestion, of course, is a plan for 
an even greater disaster, because not only will it destroy health care 
in America and turn us into a Nation similar to those who have already 
attempted nationalized health care and whose people now come to the 
United States for their own care, but it will also essentially bankrupt 
the Nation.
  Now, I know there are a lot of people out there, as I say, who tell 
us, I do not care, I do not care what it costs; it is of no consequence 
to me because someone else will be paying for it. I know there are many 
people who feel that way. I certainly hear from a lot of them. But I do 
care, because we are not simply talking about just another one of those 
government programs.
  Tonight, Mr. Speaker, as I was walking in, a gentleman asked me if I 
was going to support the bailout for Amtrak. He thought that I should 
do so because, after all, the government, as he says, supports a lot of 
dysfunctional programs. I cannot argue that. I cannot argue that we in 
fact do support a lot of dysfunctional programs. But I have tried my 
best, for as long as I have been here anyway, to vote against every one 
of them. Now, sometimes

[[Page H3854]]

you get caught up by having to vote for a major piece of legislation 
that has a lot of dysfunctional programs under it, but we are trying to 
accomplish a greater goal.
  That is what we have done, and that is what we have promised people, 
and that is what they think government is all about. I suggest that 
every single person who believes that the government is responsible for 
their health care should go to the Constitution and seek the specific 
citation in the Constitution that provides that particular 
responsibility to the Federal Government, that gives that 
responsibility to the Federal Government. I cannot find it when I look 
for it.
  Of course, we do lots of things that are unconstitutional, that are 
not provided for in the Constitution. I realize that. But, again, as I 
say, I try my best to vote against them. So unless we do a number of 
things in that particular piece of legislation, I plan to vote against 
it. Either way, certainly our side and certainly the other side's 

  I would like to see us create a real market system for the purchase 
of drugs, a market system that allows for drugs to be purchased in 
every country based upon what the going rate is around the world, not 
just in one country. I would like us to be able to have people in 
America buy drugs from Canada or Mexico or China or anyplace else if 
the drugs were that much cheaper, because that is a worldwide market.
  Now, I recognize that people say, well, we cannot guaranty the 
wholesomeness of the drug. But right now, as my friend and colleague, 
the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Gutknecht), says all the time, we 
import literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of 
prescription drugs every single year from Canada and Mexico. We do it 
kind of illegally, on the sly. People go down and get it because it is 
against the law for us to import a drug from these other countries. But 
people do it because it is so much cheaper, and so far not one single 
person has died as a result of taking an imported drug.
  So I must say that, yes, there may be a risk involved; but there is 
also the fact that there will be enormous, enormous savings to the 
American consumer by implementing a true market system in the area of 
drug benefits. The government really has no ability to guaranty 
everybody cheap drugs or health care that is the finest that the world 
can provide and that everybody else will pay for.
  We try our best, and I think our Nation is to be commended for what 
we do for senior citizens, certainly what we did for my parents, my 
father, who is in a nursing home and on Medicaid and a recipient of 
government largess. I understand the incredible value here. I just 
suggest to us all that we have to at some point, at some point we have 
to think about what we cannot afford any more; and I would certainly 
suggest that a plan that costs us $1 trillion today is not something we 
can afford, and especially presented after weeks and weeks and weeks of 
attacks on our party, on the Republican Party, for what they determined 
to be profligate spending and the raiding of the Social Security trust 
  I assure my colleagues that the Social Security trust fund will be a 
footnote, a small tiny footnote in the entire cost of the Democrat plan 
for prescription drugs, for socialized medicine. What they say is, we 
will pay for everything. Go get your drugs; we will pay for it all. 
That is nice to say. It sounds so wonderful. And it will gain them 
votes, I have no doubt about that. It will garner them votes. But at 
what cost? Well, $1 trillion. But even beyond the actual monetary cost, 
there is a cost to the Nation in terms of our own stability, or 
financial stability.

                              {time}  2130

  Mr. Speaker, I want to go on to another issue tonight, and that is 
the fact the State of Colorado is experiencing what I know other States 
in the Nation, especially Arizona are experiencing tonight, the ravages 
of wildfires. Arizona is in a situation that almost dwarfs our own 
situation in Colorado, which is horrendous. Right now, we have the 
biggest fire in Colorado essentially under control or contained, I 
should say. There are other fires that are ravaging the State that are 
not quite as threatening as the Hayman fire, which is the largest fire 
in terms of acreage consumed in the State's history. It is, as I say, 
partially contained.
  As indicated here by this picture that was taken from the Space 
Shuttle, there are other fires burning in Colorado. This is the Hayman 
fire. There is the fire by Durango and the fire in Glenwood Springs and 
several started over the weekend by lightning. The Durango fire is 
really progressing quite rapidly.
  Tonight I want to simply do one thing when it comes to this 
particular issue, and that is to thank the many people around this 
country who have come to the rescue of the people who are adjacent to 
these fires, helped save their homes; and they have come from 25 
different States in the Nation, firefighters from all over the country. 
I know the prayers of millions of Americans have gone out in order to 
bring these things under control, bring these fires under control.
  Sunday I had the opportunity to once again fly over the Hayman fire, 
the scene of so much destruction. Although it was disheartening in many 
ways, it was also encouraging because you can see that the fire has, in 
fact, been contained. It is due to a variety of reasons. Of course, 
weather has something to do with it. We have had a little more 
humidity, a little cooler days, but it also has to do with the fact 
that literally thousands of people have risked their lives and put 
themselves in harm's way to help stop this fire.
  I want to simply come to the floor tonight to say thank you to them. 
Four of those folks were killed in an automobile accident on the way to 
fight the fire; and there have been many memorials in our State and in 
the State of Oregon that have been offered up in memory of these 
people, of these brave young folks who set out to do something good for 
someone else and whose journey ended in such a tragedy. Our thoughts, 
our prayers, and our solace go out to the parents and to the relatives 
of the people who died in that horrible car crash coming to Colorado to 
help us.
  We have learned several things. I have been in Congress a relatively 
short time. This is only my second term; and, unfortunately, I have 
experienced several tragedies as a result of what has happened in my 
district during that time. Of course, the first was Columbine High 
School. I had only been here a few months when that occurred and had to 
try to figure out how to deal with that and bring some sort of closure 
to the issue and to the horrible, horrible events of that day in April.
  One of the things that I realize that happened during that time is 
that, no matter how horrible an event is, and the Columbine experience 
was far worse than even these fires. These fires have cost lives, it is 
true, but nothing can be compared to the loss of lives of the children 
who were killed at Columbine, and the adult. But out of every single 
tragedy something good can develop and usually does. No matter how 
horrible it is, we have to try to concentrate on the fact that 
something good can happen. In Columbine, I saw many things happen that 
I can describe as positive, even as a result of this horrible tragedy.
  First of all, I can tell Members that families, not just in the 
Columbine area but all across the Nation, families re-evaluated their 
relationships and became I think a little more in touch with the fact 
that life is so precious and that their children should be valued above 
all. We did have sort of a coming together of families that I think 
perhaps we would not have had under other circumstances. Hundreds of 
thousands, and I know that is maybe stretching it in some people's 
minds, but I believe it is true that hundreds of thousands of people, 
especially young people, came to Christ as a result of the kind of 
stories that were told about some of the young people that died in 
Columbine; and their own commitment to the Lord and the courage that 
they showed in this horrible, horrible time was an inspiration for 
many, many people, adults and children.
  In this fire which is a tragedy, not reaching the proportions of 
Columbine but a tragedy nonetheless, and as I say there have been 
deaths, four people coming to fight the fire and one individual that 
has been identified as a result of the fire, a lady who had a severe 
asthma attack as a result of the smoke

[[Page H3855]]

from the fire and has perished, but out of it can come something of 
value to the Nation, something good. That is that we will have some 
idea how not to just prevent but perhaps control these horrendous 

  For years now the Forest Service of the United States has been in a 
quagmire, constructed somewhat as a result of the impositions that we 
have placed upon them from this body, the government of the United 
States, the Congress of the United States, passing law after law after 
law which impeded their ability to actually fight fires. That is on one 
  On the other side is the environmental community that has taken 
advantage of all of those obstacles to in fact file appeal after appeal 
after appeal and lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit to stop the Forest 
Service from actually managing forests. Those two things have combined 
to create a disastrous situation, one that is exemplified by the fires 
that we see this year brought on by incredible drought and careless 
activity on the part of human beings, but made far worse by the fact 
that we have not been able to actually manage the forests. We have not 
been able to clean the forests and take out a lot of the fuel loads.
  The General Accounting Office reports that one in three forests in 
America is dead or dying. This after how many years of environmental 
impact statements, literally hundreds of steps that have to be taken by 
every agency dealing with the forest, whether it is the Forest Service 
themselves, the Division of Wildlife, every single entity, BLM, Bureau 
of Land Management, to have to go through the hoops that have been 
created by us and by the environmentalists, we now find one in three 
forests dead or dying.
  The Clinton administration cut back timber harvesting by 80 percent 
and used laws and lawsuits to make swathes of land off limits to 
commercial use. I am quoting from a Wall Street Journal article of June 
21. We now see that millions of acres are choked with dead wood, 
infected trees and underbrush. Many areas have more than 400 tons of 
dry fuel per acre, 10 times the manageable level. This tinder turns 
into small fires which turn into infernos, outrunning fire control and 
killing every fuzzy and endangered animal in sight. In 2000 alone, 
fires destroyed 8.4 million acres, the worse fire year since the 1950s. 
Some 800 structures were destroyed. Control and recovery cost nearly $3 
  Maybe the good thing to come out of all of this is that we have 
learned something about how to minimize the effects of wildfires in the 
forests of our Nation. And maybe, just maybe, we will be able to do 
something in the Congress of the United States to reduce the number of 
obstacles in the path of those folks trying to do their best, Forest 
Service personnel especially, to keep our forests in a way that they 
can be enjoyed by all people in this country.
  I do not know if we will accomplish it. The obstacles are great 
internally within the Forest Service itself and externally in the 
environmental community. They believe that no people should be in the 
forest, that no activity should be allowed because any activity is 
``unnatural,'' close quote.
  The fires that I saw in my State, I wish I could have taken every 
single environmentalist who had filed an appeal stopping the Forest 
Service from doing any work in the 5,000 acres of what we call part of 
the national forest that was identified as roadless area. A year and a 
half ago we could have been in there beginning the work, beginning to 
thin that area so as not to be so susceptible to these incredible 
forest fires. Appeal after appeal was filed. We were never able to go 
in and do the work, and now there is no use in filing any appeals 
because that part of the forest is long gone. It is nothing but 
  Maybe that is what environmentalists think is natural. Maybe they 
look at that same scene and think, that is just nature's way. Of 
course, fires are nature's way. Fires can be healthy things in a 
forest, but not the kind of forest fires that we are looking at today, 
not the Hayman fire, not the Glenwood Springs fire, not the Durango 
fire, not the fire in Arizona now 300,000 acres and growing.
  In Colorado, we have, as long as we have kept records, we have the 
most severe fire, the fire that has been the most destructive prior to 
the Hayman fire, which has consumed 140,000 acres so far; but prior to 
that in 1876, I believe, we had the other most destructive fire that 
the State of Colorado has ever experienced in record-keeping time. That 
was 26,000 acres. I assure you, Mr. Speaker, between 1876 and today, we 
have had many, many droughts.

                              {time}  2145

  We have had many, many times when the forests were tinder dry, as 
they say, and susceptible to horrendous damage if a fire started. But 
in fact when fire started naturally or even in those days caused by 
man, they did not consume 100,000 acres. The reason is because there 
was not a fuel load in the forest to allow that to occur. Today there 
is. Why? Because 100 years of fire suppression has created this 
incredible amount of fuel on the forest floor. This fuel burns hotter 
and faster and more destructibly than a normal or a, quote, natural 
fire, so destructively that it will actually burn the ground, burn the 
soil, it gets so hot; and for several inches down, everything is 
essentially sterilized.
  Nature puts down a barrier below that called a hydrophobic barrier 
that actually, when this occurs, when it does that, it is actually 
impermeable. What nature is trying to do is hold the rest of the 
mountain together. But that means that everything above that barrier 
will go the minute we have rain. And where does it go? It will go into, 
in this case, the Denver water supply and will have to be filtered, 
will cost us hundreds of millions of dollars perhaps to do that because 
this particular fire is incredibly damaging in that respect.
  Thank God and thank the firefighters that have come into Colorado. We 
lost around 117 homes in the Hayman fire. But if this fire happens 
again, because it certainly could, all the conditions are exactly the 
same and right on target for another disastrous fire at any time in any 
other part of the forest, if it happens just a few miles north of where 
this one occurred, we will see thousands of homes go up in smoke and 
thousands of lives shattered, another 100,000 or more acres destroyed, 
habitat for many, many endangered species.
  Here is one little interesting tidbit that we have to deal with, Mr. 
Speaker, when we talk about the idiotic environmental problems we face 
with trying to manage forests. Today in Colorado we have had the 
opportunity to do a controlled burn. This is part of forest management, 
where you go into a particular area and you will have create a fire, 
you will burn the underbrush but you keep it under control so that you 
burn away a lot of those fuels and do not ignite the whole forest on 
  There is an area called the Polhemus Burn in Colorado. It took ages 
for them to agree to get the EPA to allow this burn to occur, because 
the EPA said that a controlled burn of 5,000 to 8,000 acres would 
actually cause a problem. The smoke would cause a problem with the 
system designed to keep the air pure and that sort of thing and the 
plan for Colorado, the air quality plan in Colorado. So it took forever 
for them to agree to it. They are always putting up obstacles to a 
controlled burn because of the smoke that they say that the EPA said 
would pollute the atmosphere if you burned 5,000 acres.
  So we have burned 140,000 acres in one fire alone in Colorado and 
guess what? That does not count against the air quality standards. We 
could burn down the entire forest if it is done by an illegal campfire 
or by a lightning strike. We could burn a million acres, 5 million 
acres, 10 million acres, and it would not count.
  Let me tell you what that means right now. Right now, with 140,000 
acres in the Hayman fire, every morning when I got up this weekend when 
I was home, I would look out and you could not see the mountains 
really. There was a haze over the mountains. And I live not too far 
from the mountains. This is a peculiar site in Colorado which has 
prided itself for many years of having this pristine scene, the 
mountains, the clear blue sky. You cannot even see the mountains. One 
lady has died already because of the pollution in the air. The ashes 
will accumulate all over.
  I went out. I was blowing out my garage and driveway. I am a little 
anal about this. I want to keep it clean. I was blowing it all out. 
This huge cloud

[[Page H3856]]

of smoke comes up from my driveway because of all the ashes that had 
accumulated there. I live 25 or 30 miles from the fire. But that does 
not count. That does not count against our air pollution control, air 
pollution cleanliness thing set by the EPA. That does not count. We can 
do that. But we cannot do a controlled burn.
  Let me tell you about the Polhemus Burn. It happens to be on the 
periphery of the Hayman fire. I flew over it. Mr. Speaker, it was 
incredibly interesting. Because, as you fly over the fire, you see that 
where we did the burn just a little more than a year ago, the fire 
actually stopped. The Polhemus Burn was a buffer against that fire 
moving farther east and into homes along the front range. You can see 
where what we have done has worked, but we have to fight every single 
step of the way with the EPA to do a controlled burn of 8,000 acres. 
But 100,000, 200,000 acres, no problem as long as it was started by a 
campfire or a lightning strike. That is okay. That pollutes the air for 
weeks and weeks and months to come. But, no problem.
  This is the idiocy of trying to actually have a Federal control of 
this process that really and truly does not allow for the kind of thing 
I have just described here. It does not allow us to actually manage the 
forest. These are idiotic laws, idiotic regulations that have cost us 
severely. We have to change it; and maybe, maybe, the outcome of these 
horrendous fires will move this Congress in that direction. Maybe we 
will do something to try and reduce the possibility of the lawsuits, 
the frivolous lawsuits, the frivolous appeals and the internal inertia 
in the Forest Service. Those two things have combined to create this 
event, captured by the space shuttle.
  You can blame that on the things I have just described, bureaucratic 
inertia and environmentalists, extreme environmentalists, obstacles 
they have placed in the way of trying to manage a forest. I am not 
saying the fire happened because of those things. I am saying that the 
seriousness of the fire, the severity of the fire is directly a result 
of poor management; and the poor management is a result of the things 
that I have described.
  So maybe we can overcome this. I do not know. I certainly hope so, 
because something good has to come out of this, that at least we can 
eventually, several years from today can say, well, we learned a lesson 
from this. Yes, it was a terrible price to pay, hundreds upon hundreds 
of thousands of acres gone, the watershed destroyed, wildlife habitat 
destroyed. It will take 100 years for what has been burned to be 
replaced by something that looks like a forest again, 100 years. I will 
not see it. I do not even think my kids will see it.

  What worries me is that this is June 23 or June 24. We are at the 
beginning of the season. How much more will it be on fire this year? I 
do not know, and next year. Because, believe me, even if we 
implemented, even if tomorrow we started to do everything we needed to 
do in terms of forest management, it will take us years to clean the 
forests and get them back to a position that they can sustain these 
kinds of fires in a natural setting.
  But it is an example of good ideas gone awry. It is an example of so 
many things we see here in government, where everybody thinks they are 
doing the right thing. Law upon law upon law upon law is passed every 
year; and each one, if studied individually, yeah, that seems right, 
absolutely, we should do that. But when you put them all together, they 
combine to create this kind of problem.
  Once again, I want to thank all those people across the Nation for 
their prayers and for their help in fighting these fires. Many men and 
women are on the line tonight in Colorado and in Arizona and in other 
western States. We owe them a debt of gratitude that I want to express 
as best I can here on the floor of the House tonight.
  Mr. Speaker, in the time I have available, I am going to move to 
another issue, not one that is completely unfamiliar to the people who 
may be observing us tonight or listening. In a way this has got to do 
with immigration reform, but in a bigger picture. Something happened in 
the last week that I feel compelled to bring to the attention of my 
colleagues here on the floor and those who may be observing it.
  The Bill Bennett organization, Bill Bennett was the Secretary of 
Education in the Reagan administration, was my boss for several years. 
I was the regional director for the U.S. Department of Education. His 
organization did a poll recently, asking college students a variety of 
questions. Some of the answers that they gave to these questions, 
although surprising to some, were not surprising to me, although they 
were certainly disheartening.
  What I want to do tonight in the minutes I have remaining to me is to 
explain one of the things that motivates, perhaps the most important 
issue I feel compelled to actually try to advance or discuss when it 
comes to the issue of immigration, immigration reform and some of the 
major ramifications of massive immigration into the United States. It 
is hard sometimes to get the big picture out there, but in a way this 
poll that was taken of American college students helps me try to do 
  Mr. Speaker, let me say this. I believe that we are in this Nation 
and as a member of western civilization as perhaps the leading Nation 
in what can be described as western civilization, we are in a conflict. 
It is a conflict that is really quite old in origin. It has been going 
on for hundreds and hundreds of years. It flares up at certain points 
of time and subsides at others, but it is nonetheless an ongoing 
conflict. There are those certainly who would suggest that the threat 
to the United States is posed by an organization often referred to as 
al Qaeda and that it is a relatively small group of people around the 
world who have the intent to do America great harm.
  I would suggest that a thorough study of world history would bring 
one to a different perspective, and that is this, and I am condensing 
an awful lot of information into a relatively small period of time 
here, I recognize. I would suggest that our foes, that is, the foes of 
western civilization and all that it represents, republican form of 
government, reliance on individual responsibility, individual freedom 
being a sort of mainstay of western civilization, the rule of law and 
not of men being the mainstay of western civilization, these are the 
philosophies, these are the ideas that we have brought the world, and 
these ideas are in conflict with other civilizations.
  I suggest that it is not just al Qaeda that we are fighting. It is 
not just a small group of individuals out there, the tentacles here and 
there in several countries. Believe me, Mr. Speaker, by the way, I 
should say I am in total support of the President's attempts to try and 
stamp them out, to try to go wherever they are and eradicate them. I 
absolutely agree with it. But I think it is foolhardy for us to assume 
that, even if we were actually able to either kill or arrest every 
single member of the al Qaeda organization, that America would be safe. 
Because I think our battle is with something bigger. It is with 
fundamentalist Islam in this case. That is part of the clash of 
civilizations. That is the one we are now dealing with most directly.
  As I say, over the course of history, world history, you will find 
that it has happened often, that these flash points have occurred, that 
there have been times when we can see a much more direct, a much more 
identifiable conflict, when armies met, Crusaders against the Saracens. 
But we can see that, as times change, we no longer will be fighting 
wars with major armies facing each other in some remote corner of the 
world, the winner and the outcome of the battle determining the winners 
and losers of the war.

                              {time}  2200

  That is not the kind of war we are fighting today; it is not the 
world in which we live. The world in which we live is a war fought by 
people blowing themselves up on buses in Jerusalem or in the West Bank. 
It is a war being fought by people who take airplanes and crash them 
into buildings in the hopes of destroying a different civilization. It 
is American civilization; it is Western civilization that our opponents 
hate. It is not just an issue of Israel versus Palestine. That is only 
one front where fighting is actually going on in this clash of 
civilizations. At least that is my belief. If one looks at this I think 
from a bigger perspective, that is the conclusion to which one must 

[[Page H3857]]

  Now, how does this fit with what I started off talking about in terms 
of Bill Bennett's organization and the poll they took? Well, for us to 
be successful in this clash of civilization, for us to actually hope to 
be able to win this war, we have to recognize that we are, number one, 
fighting that kind of a war. It is not just simply a small sort of 
tactical attack that we are focusing on here and dealing with, on one 
subgroup of fundamentalist Islam. It is a much bigger problem, and it 
will go on for a long, long time. In order to be successful, we as 
Americans have to know who we are, what we stand for, and believe in 
Western civilization, because that is what we are actually fighting 
for. It is not just to stop people from crashing into a building in New 
York. It is our very survival. I assure my colleagues that the folks 
who want to do us ill want to do so as a result of the fact of who we 
are, what we believe in, what we exemplify. That is what they hate, and 
they will not stop ever until that particular goal is accomplished, and 
that is the eradication of Western civilization. It is, I think, that 
big an issue with which we deal.
  So it is important for us to understand that when we ask American 
students what they think of America, what they think of America vis-a-
vis other countries, how they actually kind of rate our system and our 
society versus other societies, it is disheartening to hear and see the 
following results: American students, according to this poll, intensely 
and overwhelmingly disagree with the statement that Western culture is 
superior to Arab culture. Only 16 percent believe Western culture is 
superior to Arab culture, but 79 percent do not.
  Now, that is the result I suggest, Mr. Speaker, of a deliberate, sort 
of philosophical point of view that has been expressed in schools, in 
classrooms in colleges all over America for at least a decade or more, 
longer than that, 20 years at least; and that is what I refer to as 
cultural relativism, that it is all the same; that we should never, 
ever think of another culture as different or certainly less deserving, 
less important than our own.
  Well, in fact, Mr. Speaker, the reality of the world is this: that we 
do have something unique in the United States, and it is not 
chauvinistic to express that point of view. In fact, we must believe in 
that if we are to win the war to which I refer in this clash of 
civilizations. If we believe that all cultures are the same, that there 
is nothing different between the United States, between Western 
civilization, between a liberal democracy, between the rule of law, 
between the intent or the belief that people have the ultimate 
responsibility for their own lives; if we do not believe in that, then 
we cannot be successful over the long, long haul in this clash, and it 
is going to be a long haul.
  And if we think for a moment that we are in a Nation that is less 
desirable than any other, or equally desirable as all others, then all 
we have to do is to raise the gates all over the world, raise the gates 
and allow people to flee from whatever country they live in to the 
country they want to go to. Does anybody think for a moment that there 
is going to be a mass exodus from the United States to Saudi Arabia or 
to Afghanistan? I do not think so. Does anybody think for a moment that 
if we actually raise all of the gates that there would not be a huge 
influx of people from all over the world, including the Middle Eastern 
countries, to the United States where life is better, and it is better 
because of Western civilization? I am not ashamed to say that; and I 
am, in fact, proud to say it, because I believe it. I believe it is 
empirically provable that life is better.

  There is a great satirical piece that was done, my son sent it to me, 
it came off the Internet, something called ``James: The Screed.'' I do 
not know to what that refers, but he is doing a satirical piece on this 
poll. And he is suggesting that this is an essay question that is 
typical today in a college classroom. Remember, this is satire, okay?
  Here is the essay question: ``Two choices: life as a gay atheist in 
Fargo, North Dakota, or life as a Christian gay in Riyadh. Write 1,000 
words describing how each faces equal hardship. If your essay contains 
less than 1,000 words, you will either be docked one grade or have your 
left hand removed with an ornately engraved scimitar, depending on 
which morally-equal culture the teaching assistant wishes to consult.''
  This is great stuff. ``B: Western culture is equal or inferior to 
Arab culture because: (check any you believe to apply)'' of the 
following: ``Number 1, Our so-called democracies are fronts for 
corporate interests. Nadar doesn't win here, Nadar doesn't win in 
Syria. What's the difference?
  ``2, our so-called freedom of scientific inquiry unshackled from 
religious strictures is a sham. Galileo was oppressed by the Catholic 
Church, wasn't he? Didn't every American moon shot end in failure 
because we believed the sun revolved around the earth and we failed to 
account for the gravitational pull? Stupid Pope!
  ``3,'' this is another option that you can check: ``We spend more on 
flavored massage oil than we do on foreign aid, which is so, like, 
typical. Saudi Arabia spends more on mosques here in the United States 
than their citizens spend on ``Hustler,'' which should tell you 
  ``4, they may stone adulterers, but we are equally puritanical about 
sex, as evidenced by the recent refusal of the Toledo City Council to 
grant medical benefits to the pets of cohabitating transgendered city 
  It goes on. I mean it is a great, great satire, and I encourage 
everyone, Mr. Speaker, here to go on the Web site and look it up. It is 
called ``The Screed.'' It is an ``attempt to disassemble the 
indefensible.'' It is very, very good. Very interesting.
  But what it does is point out that we need to know who we are; we 
need to actually defend that point of view and Western civilization as 
we know it. And when we talk about how this actually connects to 
immigration, I suggest to my colleagues that we do need to actually 
have a country that is a country connected by people who can speak to 
each other in one language and share a common set of values and ideas. 
Massive immigration is a threat to that particular philosophy and idea. 
Not immigration itself. Immigration is a fine thing that has helped the 
country and has been wonderful in many ways. But the massive 
immigration we are witnessing today does not help us create a cohesive 
country, a country that does share one language, one set of ideas, one 
set of principles. We are becoming Balkanized and, as a result, unable 
to effectively fight this war in this clash of civilizations.