This page contains several of the many speeches that Senator Fumo has given on the floor of the state Senate in Harrisburg.
Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, September 18, 2008.
As all of you know, I did not expect to be in Harrisburg this week, but since I am able to be here I want to speak for a few moments about an issue that will soon have an impact on every person in Pennsylvania.
Politicians make a lot of speeches. I certainly have made my share on this floor, but every now and then we have a chance not just to talk, but to act in a direct fashion to help people.
We have that opportunity before us right now.
The United States financial markets are in turmoil. Our economy seems to be sinking. By one estimate that I heard last night, $1.2 trillion dollars of wealth in this country has been wiped out over the past three days. Undoubtedly, that includes some of the hard-earned savings, or investments, or retirement nest eggs of many Pennsylvanians.
As we sit here in the Pennsylvania Senate, we don’t have the power to do very much about the meltdown on Wall Street, and we can’t correct the lax regulation in Washington that got us into this mess. We can’t do much about the crisis in the national credit markets, or undo the subprime mortgage lending mistakes.
But we can take action on a simple matter that affects the checkbook of every family in our commonwealth, as well as every business -- large or small -- that pays an electric bill.
We can do something to prevent our citizens from being hit with enormous and unfair electric rate increases. <more>
Speech on the Floor of the Senate, June 24, 2008
On June 9th, Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and introduced an impeachment resolution, with 35 articles of impeachment, against George W. Bush. It got very little attention, but it deserved the focus of the whole nation.
By his reaction to the 2001 terrorist attacks and his pursuit of war in Iraq, Bush has violated the constitution over and over again – the constitution that he took a solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend. He has also violated his oath to make sure that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed. To put it simply, he has committed many crimes.
I will not read all 35 of Congressman Kucinich’s impeachment articles, or the supporting evidence he spent nearly five hours reciting upon the floor of the House. But I would like to call several of them to our attention. <more>
Speech on the Floor of the Senate, June 3, 2008.
The fear-monger-in-chief was at it again several weeks ago, when he delivered one of his most offensive attacks yet on those who disagree with his disastrous policies. George W. Bush, speaking in Israel on May 15, equated a willingness to talk to Iran and leaders of some Middle East groups with appeasement of Hitler and the Nazis in Europe prior to World War II. Although he did not mention any Democratic Presidential candidate by name, the attack was a clear reference to Senator Barack Obama. Never mind that some people in Bush’s own cabinet have advocated the same type of engagement that Obama has said he would pursue. Never mind that some of Bush’s Republican predecessors also talked with enemies – Richard Nixon famously took the first steps to improve relations with China. Ronald Reagan, even while referring to the Soviet Union as the evil empire, built a relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev. They understood that talking and negotiating with your enemies does not constitute appeasement. It only becomes appeasement when you give up something without getting anything in return.
But facts have never mattered to this administration. Bush shamefully used the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel to try scoring cheap political points at home. The Politics of Fear is his fundamental strategy -- one might even call it his fundamental public policy. The Politics of Fear dominates not only Bush’s rhetoric, but also his administration’s actions.
Just look at what has gone on in this country as the Bush Administration has attempted to consolidate its political power by cynically capitalizing on the tragedy of 9-11. <more>
Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, April 8, 2008
A major anniversary occurred in my career as a Senator last week. Thursday, April 3, marked 30 years since I took office after winning a special election. I came in amid controversy, and I will retire having gone through much adversity, some of which lingers as I complete my final months as a state Senator.
When I took office in 1978, Pennsylvania was on the brink of upheaval. Inflation was wracking the national economy, and our state would be hit especially hard. The domestic steel industry was about to collapse, and much of our manufacturing base was about to disappear. The energy crunch was on the horizon. The affordability of health care was just beginning to surface as a widespread problem. Our public infrastructure was beginning to show signs of decay.
Although I would help deal with all of those problems and more during my career -- and we still contend with some of them today -- I had more immediate concerns when I first came to Harrisburg to take office. I arrived for my swearing in on April 3, 1978 with scores of supporters. They proceeded to witness a delay of several hours while one of my fellow majority Democrats railed against seating me because of an Inquirer story saying there was an ongoing investigation of the Department of State, where I had previously worked during the Shapp Administration. Finally, this chamber voted to seat me, 48-1, and my swearing in went forward. That investigation never resulted in any charges, but it certainly made my first day in office an interesting one. <more>
FUMO CHASTISES SENATE OVER HEALTH
A video of Senator Fumo's remarks has been posted on YouTube. Click on the link below to watch it.
Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, November 13, 2007
Last month, America was given a very stark and very sad look at the priorities of the Bush Administration. With bipartisan support, the United States Senate and House passed and sent to the White House a $35 billion dollar expansion of the S-CHIP program, to provide health care coverage to more children across our country. But telling the American public that we could not afford it, George Bush vetoed the legislation. This is the same George Bush who took a $236 billion dollar budget surplus from Bill Clinton and turned it into a six-year record of soaring budget deficits.
Yet just days after saying that we could not afford to give kids an additional $35 billion dollars worth of health insurance, Bush asked Congress for an additional $46 billion dollars in war spending for 2008. That money was on top of the $147 billion dollar request that he had already submitted to Congress for 2008. Almost all of the money would go toward the fighting in Iraq. That ruinous war is costing us about $2 billion per day.
So here is George Bush’s message to the children of America: We aren’t going to pay to keep you healthy. Instead, we’re going to spend the money to send other young people over to Iraq to get killed and horribly wounded.
It’s a message that we hear loud and clear in Pennsylvania. Regarding S-CHIP, our state will have to scale back our expected enrollment growth if this legislation is not enacted. Next year, we would be unable to cover 9,288 kids who otherwise would have health insurance. That number gradually grows, until by 2012, there will be 95,712 Pennsylvania children who will not be covered because of George Bush’s veto. <more>
Senator Fumo's Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, June 28, 2007
On our path of disgrace and horror in Iraq, we recently passed another milestone, when the United States military death toll there reached 3,500. As the tragic killing continues, we have now substantially exceeded that. As of yesterday we have lost 3,570 Americans in our war and occupation of that country.
Our wounded now number 26,129.
In just the past 10 days, we have had 40 fatalities.
Madam President, when is enough enough? How many more lives have to be sacrificed to satiate the ego of George W. Bush?
Despite the sacrifice being made by American soldiers and their families, we are no closer to a resolution of the conflict today than we were when it began. If anything, a successful outcome is more distant than ever, and the situation steadily worsens. There has been a lot of talk about benchmarks to progress in Iraq, but all of the benchmarks to date highlight our failure. <more>
Senator Fumo's Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, June 12, 2007
Last month, in an action that is probably unprecedented in American history during a time of war against a foreign foe, we witnessed former military commanders speaking out against the Iraq conflict in paid television advertising.
Major General John Batiste and Major General Paul Eaton, both of whom commanded our troops in Iraq before they retired, actually appeared personally in ads sponsored by a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, to criticize George W. Bush’s mismanagement of the war.
Among many in the military, it is an unwritten code that general officers should not publicly disagree with the strategic decisions made by the commander-in-chief and his administration. Such outspoken public comments by high-ranking members of the military are always controversial. Imagine how disgusted Batiste and Eaton must have been with the course of events in Iraq, to go public. They are patriotic Americans who have devoted their entire adult lives to the service of their country in the armed forces. Imagine how worried they must be about the future of our nation, and especially the future of our military.
Batiste said this in his ad: "You did not listen, Mr. President. You continue to pursue the failed strategy that is breaking our great Army and Marine Corps. I left in protest in order to speak out. Mr. President, you have placed our nation in peril. Our only hope is that Congress will act now to protect our fighting men and women." <more>
Speech Submitted for the record, May 22, 2007
In his latest book, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” Lee Iacocca, the former chairman of Chrysler, says he is fed up with what is happening in this country. He points out that while he has never been a Commander in Chief, he has been a CEO, and he knows a few things about leadership.
He identifies what he calls the Nine Cs of leadership. A leader must be Curious and Creative. He must be able to Communicate. He must have Character, Courage, Conviction, Charisma, Competence, and Common Sense.
Iacocca believes those qualities are lacking in Washington today. While he makes it clear that he does not exclusively blame liberals or conservatives, Republicans or Democrats for our national failings, he finds the leadership void to be most severe in the Oval Office. <more>
Senator Fumo's Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, May 1, 2007
On this day four years ago, standing beneath a red, white and blue banner that proclaimed “Mission Accomplished” George Bush announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended.
He had dressed himself up in a flight suit like a live GI Joe doll, and had flown out to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on a fighter jet to make a tailhook landing, even though the Lincoln was anchored just 30 miles off the coast of California and was easily reachable by presidential helicopter.
On the deck, he told the American people: “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
But nothing about it was real. The guy who playing dress up in a Top Gun flight suit had never seen combat; the war he had instigated was far from over, and the rationale for that war was fabricated propaganda. The scene on the carrier deck was nothing more than an elaborately staged photo-op. Six weeks into the war with Iraq, the Bush administration was out of touch with reality then, and it remains out of touch with reality today.
So on this, the anniversary of "Mission Accomplished," I think it is appropriate for us to take a realistic look at the condition of our nation’s military – the real soldiers, dressed in real uniforms who are facing real danger, and sometimes paying with their lives in Iraq.
George Bush keeps telling us that this war is all about keeping us safe in a dangerous world, and that leaving Iraq would weaken us in the face of terror, so it is only fair that we examine our military readiness.
It should concern all Americans that most armed forces experts believe we are steadily declining in military power the longer we stay in Iraq. With no end in sight, unless the Congress can force the Bush Administration to accept a deadline for withdrawal, we are slowly draining this nation’s military strength. Despite the bravery and sacrifice of our soldiers, there is now real doubt concerning our Army’s ability to accomplish other missions in the future, even the most basic mission of defending our country.
As former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a soldier for 35 years, said in December of 2006, just a few months ago: “The active Army is about broken.” <more>
Senator Fumo's Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, April 23, 2007
Earlier this month we marked the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Most of us remember that dramatic scene, when the large statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled by a group of Iraqis, with the help of a U.S. Army tank.
The image stayed with Americans through the many difficult months and years that followed in Iraq. While we realized that we had been lied to about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, and lied to about links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, many Americans at least consoled themselves with the belief that the Iraqi people were better off with the brutal dictator, Saddam Hussein, out of power.
Now, four years later, one prominent Iraqi, an engineer educated in Britain and the U.S. who was a key advisor to Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, has challenged that assumption.
Ali al Allawi, in a book published this month, The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace, says that the new state of Iraq which the United States created is “dysfunctional,” and he called for a dramatic change in direction. Allawi spoke to the National Press Club in Washington earlier this month.
While he was an instructor at Oxford University in England in the years prior to the U.S. invasion, Allawi was active among exile groups that opposed Saddam Hussein’s regime. Yet he offered this scathing comparison:
“U.S. policy after the 2003 invasion has not only been inappropriate for Iraq, but it’s been incoherent. On a values-free basis, the Iraqi state under Saddam was much better and less corrupt than what we have now,” Allawi said. <more>
Senator Fumo's Remarks on the floor of the Senate, March 26, 2007
Last week marked the four-year anniversary of our invasion of Iraq. It is now well documented that a large majority of Americans have decided that the war is a mistake. They recognize that the Bush Administration has managed it poorly. And they know that our foreign intelligence experts almost unanimously believe it has made us less safe against terrorism, because it has created a new training ground for al Qaeda, and has fostered hatred for America in the Arab world, even in some nations where we once enjoyed substantial good will in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.
Americans are also filled with remorse and disgust over the 3,241 U.S. soldiers whose lives have been sacrificed, and the 23,417 who have been wounded, in this sad misadventure. All of that is well known here in this country, and it is reflected in the opinion polls that lean so strongly against this war.
So in marking the four-year anniversary of the war this month, I would like us to spend a few moments today thinking about another group of people for whom this war has been costly, often in a horrifying way. Our invasion has rained misery down on a population that we were supposedly trying to help – the average Iraqi citizenry.
Four years after the invasion, USA TODAY, ABC News, the British Broadcasting Corp. and ARD, a German TV network, surveyed 2,212 Iraqis. The findings were reported in several news articles, and I want to present some them for the record on this floor today, because they paint a sobering picture of what we have done to their country.
Six in 10 Iraqis say their lives are going badly, and only one-third expect things to improve in the next year. <more>
Senator Fumo's Remarks on the floor of the Senate, March 13, 2007
Thank You Madam President,
Last June, I stood on this floor and talked about the cost of the war in Iraq, which at that point had reached $288 billion. Projections by two economists, one a Nobel Prize winner and the other from Harvard, estimated that the true cost would eventually reach $2 trillion.
The stock market drop two weeks ago prompted me to check if those estimates had been updated. While I have not seen a new estimate on the eventual total cost, I did learn that we have now spent about $405 billion in actual appropriated dollars, according to the National Priorities Project, which keeps a running tally.
So with the cost growing, I think it is fair to say that the true long-term price tag, which includes things such as treatment of the wounded for the rest of their lives, will exceed $2 trillion.
Amazingly, I also learned that the war is currently costing about $2 billion per week, which is nearly twice as much as we spent in the first year after the invasion.
These are hard dollars used on military personnel, equipment and operations. And they represent only the incremental costs of the war, and do not include the amount that we would ordinarily spend for the upkeep of our military if we were not engaged in Iraq. We must keep in mind, however, that there are other financial costs that are also very real, even though they might not be precisely measurable at this hour.
As the Nobel laureate economist, Joseph Stiglitz, phrased it: “The budgetary costs are but a fraction of the costs to the economy as a whole.” <more>
Senator Fumo's Remarks on the floor of the Senate, February 12, 2007
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to debate a resolution opposing George W. Bush’s troop build-up plan for Iraq. Although the resolution is non-binding, and although it will not cut funding for the war, it is designed to send a clear signal to the White House that Congress will demand a stronger voice in decisions about the war. That is important in no small measure because this Congress was elected last fall by an American majority that opposes the continuing that conflict.
The resolution will also express support for our troops who are already there, even while it rejects Bush’s proposal to send another 21,500 into that fight. This is healthy, for the well being of both our fighting men and women, and our country itself.
During the years since Bush’s invasion, there are some in this nation who have argued that a debate about our presence in Iraq somehow equates to a failure to support our troops in the field. But just the opposite is true. The people who wear the uniform of the military, especially those in combat, deserve a vigorous and open debate about the wisdom of our policy. <more>
Senator Fumo's Remarks on the floor of the Senate, January 29, 2007
Rarely do past presidents criticize their successors who are in the White House. It is considered a violation of protocol, especially in the area of international relations. The belief is that we should rally around our commander in chief in times of foreign conflict. Yet the current president’s mistakes are so serious that even former presidents of his own party, including his father, leave little doubt that they regard the Iraq invasion with disdain.
Late last year, Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States, passed away at the age of 93. Several years earlier, Ford had granted an interview to author Bob Woodward, on the condition that it would not be published until after his death. The interview took place in July of 2004, a time when Americans were beginning to doubt George’s W. Bush strategy in Iraq, but long before public opinion had turned strongly against the war, as it now has.
Even then, however, President Ford, a Republican, strongly disagreed with the decision to invade Iraq. In the tape recorded interview with Woodward, he was highly critical of Bush’s decision.
He said: “I don’t think if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly, I don’t think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our efforts through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer.”
SENATOR FUMO'S REMARKS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, JANUARY 17, 2007
When I last spoke about Iraq on November 20 in this chamber, 2,866 American soldiers had been killed by the fighting in George Bush’s war. Since that date, another 158 brave but unfortunate Americans have lost their lives in combat there.
The sacrifice of those 158 soldiers has pushed our nation beyond several sad but important milestones in this misbegotten, unnecessary conflict.
On Christmas Day, December 25, 2006, we lost our 2,974th American soldier in Iraq. Thus, as of that date, George W. Bush had sent more Americans to their deaths than the terrorists killed on September 11th, 2001 in New York, Washington and Somerset, Pennsylvania. By the most accurate count now possible, 2,973 men and women were the victims of the terrorist highjackings. Now the American death toll in Iraq has exceeded that number. In the process – and this is not my opinion but rather that of non-partisan intelligence experts and even retired generals – the war has made us less safe in the face of terrorism. We have managed to increase the threat of terrorism by invading a country that had nothing to do with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Instead, we all but forgot about Osama bin Laden and the terrorist training grounds in Afghanistan. We have lost approximately 10 times as many fighting men and women in Iraq as we have in Afghanistan, where we should have concentrated our efforts.
Then on the final day of 2006, we passed another milestone. The Pentagon announced the loss on December 31 of two more Americans, pushing the number of our combats deaths in Iraq above 3,000. <more>
SENATOR FUMO'S REMARKS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, NOVEMBER 20, 2006.
The stunning election results from earlier this month were the kind of event that every so often reaffirms our faith in American democracy. I say that not so much because my political party did well at the polls, although I was certainly pleased with outcome at the national level and at the top of the ticket here in Pennsylvania.
Rather, I make that statement because the November 7 elections demonstrated to the world once again that the American people have the ability to express their will through the ballot box. Not only can they can select their preferred candidates for public office, but they can also send a powerful message about public policy.
While it is certainly true that many factors go into the voters’ decisions, and local elections are rarely decided on a single issue, it is undeniable that the American people sent a message this month about the war in Iraq. By an overwhelming margin, they are against it, they want it to end, and they want our soldiers to come home. They may disagree on the precise timetable and they may disagree about the precise manner, but they left no doubt that they want the war to be managed differently than it has been by the current administration.
Many Democrats have ideas about what to do in Iraq. But although – as we have heard time and again – the Democrats have no consensus plan to end the war, the voters made it clear that they are willing to take their chances with new leadership rather than continue with the Bush Administration “Stay-The-Course” plan. And that itself is a powerful statement. <more>
SENATOR FUMO'S REMARKS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, OCTOBER 17, 2006
As we continue to hear the statistics about the loss of life in Iraq, and continue to debate our policies in the Middle East, it is easy sometimes to lose site of the impact that the war has on our fighting men and women, and on the readiness of our armed forces.
I know that all Americans, whether we agree with the war in Iraq or we don’t, we all support our troops. We want to see them come home safely, whenever that might be. One of the things that have troubled me the most about the debate over our Iraq policy is the suggestion from some war supporters that those of us who disagree are failing to support the troops. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have a disagreement about what is in the best interests of our nation, and thus in the best interest of our fighting forces. I support our troops in Iraq, and I admire them for carrying out their mission as they are duty-bound to do. But I do believe the mission they have been given is misguided, and that they should be withdrawn now.
As we are together in this chamber for the last time before our great celebration of American democracy on Election Day, I would like to spend a few minutes talking about our soldiers.
First, I think it is important to recognize that in many ways they are a different collection of people than have fought previous wars. That has implications for our society as well as our military, and it has implications for this country’s views of the war. The military now is all-volunteer. While the Bush administration and its bellicose apologists have recently begun conjuring up images of Nazism and Fascism when telling us how important this war is, they apparently don’t consider it important enough to institute a draft. That raises this question: If this war is so critical to America’s interests, and if military experts on the ground in Iraq say we need more troops if we are to have any chance of accomplishing our objectives, and if military experts likewise say that the war in Iraq has our military so stretched to its limit that we would be unable to respond effectively to trouble in other spots on the globe, why isn’t the Bush Administration proposing a draft?
I think we all know the answer to that. If we were actually drafting young men and women from all strata of society and sending them to fight in Iraq against their will, we would have the very same riots and protests in the streets of our cities and on the lawns of our college campuses that we had during the Vietnam war.
SENATOR FUMO'S REMARKS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, OCTOBER 3, 2006
With the typical methods of a propagandist, the Bush Administration and its allies disparage anyone who wants to pursue the only sensible course in Iraq as “cut and run” cowards. Over and over again, they hurl insults at anyone who questions their decisions.
And so it goes. From this administration we get slogans and childish name calling instead of thoughtful debate about public policy. And they feed us their nonsense despite wave after wave of factual data that contradicts their position.
Our presence in Iraq is making the world, including America, less safe. It is not preventing terrorism, it is promoting it. It is not convincing the Arab world that we are there to bring them freedom and democracy, it is convincing them to hate us in ever greater numbers.
Those are not just my conclusions or opinions. Rather, they belong to non-partisan foreign policy analysts and intelligence experts, including some who report directly to the White House.
Perhaps the most damning report yet issued was the one that was revealed several weeks ago. An assessment by combined United States intelligence agencies found that the war in Iraq has increased the overall terrorist threat since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The National Intelligence Estimate represents the opinion of 16 spy agencies within the U.S. government. Their conclusion: The global terrorist threat is growing, not decreasing, and the U.S. presence in Iraq is helping Islamic radicalism to spread. These are Bush’s own intelligence officials who are saying this. <more>
SENATOR FUMO'S REMARKS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, SEPTEMBER 27, 2006
In recent weeks, some of our national leaders have claimed -- and will probably claim again between now and November 7 -- that opposition to the war in Iraq is rooted in partisan politics.
Before we get any closer to the 2006 mid-term elections, I think we should pause for a moment to look at some evidence that suggests that is not the case. The truth is, while many Democrats certainly oppose this war and believe it is doing more harm than good to America, some Republicans are beginning to reach the same conclusion. They included some of the strongest and most highly respected conservative voices in this country.
There is no one who deserves to be called the father of modern American conservatism more than William F. Buckley, Jr. He has been a leading voice among conservatives for more than half a century. Over the summer, in an interview with CBS news, Buckley said George W. Bush has abandoned conservative principles in his foreign policy. Buckley views the war in Iraq as a failure.
He said: “If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we’ve experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign.”
He believes the Bush administration has been engulfed by Iraq, and consequently is unable to deal effectively with other international problems. <more>
SENATOR FUMO'S REMARKS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, SEPTEMBER 19, 2006
This has not been a good summer for America overseas. Young U.S. soldiers have continued to die in Iraq. Innocent Iraqi civilians are being killed by the thousands, as the country slides into a state of chaos that we created. The focus of our national leadership remains on Iraq while counterterrorism experts say we are falling behind in the war on terror. The Taliban, which we had suppressed in the months after 9-11, is making a comeback in Afghanistan because we have turned our attention away from the real center of terrorism. Our national leaders talk tough on Iran’s nuclear program, but have no moral authority by which to compel the international community to address that threat. Several military and terrorism experts say we are worse off, not better, because of the war in Iraq.
As we return from recess, I think it would be useful to take a few minutes now to review several reports that have been made public this summer. The facts do not present a picture that should make Americans feel safe and secure, or feel confident in our national leadership.
In late June, a survey of one hundred American terrorism and security analysts by Foreign Policy Magazine and the Center for American Progress found that 84 percent believe we are losing the war on terror, and the reason is the war in Iraq.
Michael Scheuer, a former CIA counterterrorism expert who describes himself as a conservative Republican, said our entry into Iraq had proven to be a recruiting bonanza for terrorist groups. He said we had essentially created a training ground for al Qaeda.
“The war in Iraq broke our back in the war on terror,” he said. “It made everything more difficult.” <more>
Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, June 27, 2006
Several weeks ago, another gentleman in this chamber summarized an article from U.S. News and World Report, suggesting that George W. Bush deserved comparison to our great 33rd President, Harry S. Truman.
It has become fashionable in recent years to measure unpopular public officials, especially presidents, against Harry Truman because Truman maintained the courage of his convictions and did what he thought was right despite low standing in public opinion polls during his second term. By standing up to Communism around the world with the Doctrine that bears his name, and by aspects of his straightforward, plain-speaking personality, Truman developed a certain no-nonsense image that is commonly characterized by the slogan: “Give ’em hell, Harry,“ that arose from his 1948 campaign.
So now it seems that any time someone in the White House throws around a little bit of tough talk, it invites comparison to Truman.
But that is an overly simplistic view, which does not do justice to the sensitivity, the careful decision-making, and the good judgment in foreign affairs that Harry Truman exhibited time and time again. I have studied Truman closely and have long admired him, and not just because we share the same birth date and party affiliation.
Today, I thought it might be useful to review some of Truman’s foreign policy so that we can see how far away the current administration is from his legacy. <MORE>
On June 21, the State Senate debated a proposed constitutional
amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
The bill originated in the House of Representatives, where it was
written to outlaw civil unions or “legal unions identical or substantially
equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.” That version
could have prevented civil unions and other arrangements akin to
marriage, and could have been used to deny many social benefits
to gays and others who live together without being married.
On June 13, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended
the bill to remove the language pertaining to unions identical to or
equivalent to marriage, leaving only the provision stating that
marriage shall be defined as between one man and one woman.
When the bill reached the Senate floor on June 21, there were three
votes. The first was to restore the language that the Senate Judiciary
Committee had deleted. The second was to amend the bill with
language very similar to what had been deleted, and the third was
on final passage.
Senator Vince Fumo argued against reverting to the House version,
and against adding the amendment that was similar to the House
version. Both of those efforts were defeated. Fumo also argued
against final passage, but the proposed constitutional amendment
did pass. Because it was in a form different than the one passed by
the House, however, it must return to that chamber.
Remarks on the Floor of the Senate,
June 20, 2006
It has been more than three years since the United States invaded Iraq, and more than three years since George W. Bush announced the “end of major combat operations.” It has also been about three years since the people of this nation began to realize that we were not going to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Claims that Saddam Hussein possessed biological, chemical and nuclear weapons were the George W. Bush main argument for going to war. Since then, he and his administration’s apologists have told us repeatedly that those claims were not lies to the Congress and the American people, but rather “failures of intelligence.”
In recent months, however, some people who are in a position to know have come forward and said that the Bush administration had accurate intelligence, but simply chose to ignore it. Evidence has also come forth that there were even people within the administration who had doubts about the WMD claims well in advance of the war, and expressed those doubts to George Bush.
THE MONEY SPENT ON THE WAR IN IRAQ COULD
HAVE HAD MANY MORE WORTHWHILE USES
In many different ways,
we as a nation are paying a huge price for the invasion and occupation
Of course, there is the
horrible cost in lives, both American and Iraqi. There is the cost of
our weakened national security. There is the price we pay for alienating
allies who might be helpful in the war on terror, and the price we are
paying in the loss of respect around the world as consequences of Abu
Graib and Haditha.
Today I would like to
speak about another type of cost – the familiar one of dollars and cents
– and I would like to try to put that in some perspective.
As we stand here today in
June of 2006, the monetary cost of this war so far is approaching at
least $288 billion. By the end of September, it will hit a minimum of
$315 billion. If it turns out to be true, as George W. Bush said several
months ago, that it will be up to the next president to bring our troops
home from his misguided war, then the expenditures will most likely hit
$1 trillion sometime during the next administration.
In many different ways, we as a nation are paying a huge price for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Of course, there is the horrible cost in lives, both American and Iraqi. There is the cost of our weakened national security. There is the price we pay for alienating allies who might be helpful in the war on terror, and the price we are paying in the loss of respect around the world as consequences of Abu Graib and Haditha.
Today I would like to speak about another type of cost – the familiar one of dollars and cents – and I would like to try to put that in some perspective.
As we stand here today in June of 2006, the monetary cost of this war so far is approaching at least $288 billion. By the end of September, it will hit a minimum of $315 billion. If it turns out to be true, as George W. Bush said several months ago, that it will be up to the next president to bring our troops home from his misguided war, then the expenditures will most likely hit $1 trillion sometime during the next administration. <MORE>
Remarks on the floor of the Senate, June 6, 2006
Several weeks ago, a poll printed in the Morning Call of Allentown showed that only 35 percent of Pennsylvanians still believe the war in Iraq is worth fighting. Only about the same percentage believe it has made our nation safer from a terrorist attack.
It is true that polls do not always serve as the best guide to good public policy, but in this case, I believe the polls merely reflect what the public is hearing from military experts.
Increasingly, we find that people who know much more than we civilians know – people who are in a position to evaluate George W. Bush’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq – are saying that he botched the job.
At one time, after hearing a lot of misleading information about the reasons for war, and a lot of bravado from Bush, Cheyney and their minions, the American people were united in support of the war. But now they know it was all lies. <MORE>
Remarks on the floor of the State Senate, April 26, 2006.
When people criticize the war in Iraq, we often hear George W. Bush, or Dick Cheney, or some other member of this administration, accuse those critics of not realizing that the world changed on September 11, 2001.
They imply, or occasionally state outright, that the critics have an obsolete, conventional view of war, and that they are ill-equipped, therefore, to manage or even understand the modern war against terror.
Unfortunately for America, the opposite is true. Evidence mounts that the people now running our government, and who hold civilian authority over the military today, are the ones who do not understand how the world changed on 9-11. The ill-advised invasion of Iraq and the mismanagement of the early days of the occupation, when we could have kept the insurgency from taking hold, demonstrate that the Bush administration lacks any comprehension of post 9-11 strategic military concepts, or geo-political realities. <more>
(After seeing the April 26 speech on the Pennsylvania Cable Network, members of the Gettysburg-based organization Democracy for America invited Sen. Fumo to address one of their meetings. He visited them in June 2006 and spoke for about twenty minutes, then took questions from the audience of about 100 people. A six-and-one-half minute excerpt from his speech in Gettysburg has been posted on YouTube. Click on the link below to view it.)
(To see another YouTube video of an Iraq war veteran in April of 2007 presenting Sen. Fumo with a flag that flew over his Marine operations center in Iraq, click on the link below.)
Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, April 3, 2006
Last month, United States Senator Russ
Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, introduced a resolution to censure
George W. Bush for breaking the law by engaging in domestic spying
without a warrant.
The response from the administration
was predictable and partisan. Dick Cheyney said in a speech the next
day: “Instead of acknowledging the urgent need to track enemy
communications in wartime, some Democrats in Congress have decided that
the president is the enemy.”
Shortly after that, Republican Senator Wayne Allard of
Colorado chimed in with the same theme. He accused Senator Feingold of
siding with terrorists.
These are reprehensible tactics of men who are afraid to
have a legitimate debate about constitutional issues that are of grave
importance to the freedoms we have historically enjoyed in this country.
They try to win their arguments by instilling fear.
Because they cannot refute ideas on
merit, they attack their fellow Americans and accuse them of a lack of
patriotism and of being soft on terrorism.
Contrary to the statement of Dick Cheyney, Democrats DO
acknowledge the need to track enemy communications in wartime, but we
simply believe the president should follow the fairly easy legal
procedures for doing so. The issue is not whether the president should
be allowed to snoop on terrorists – clearly he should be. The issue is
whether he should be allowed to snoop on American citizens without a
warrant – clearly, he should not be.
Those who speak out against the warrantless domestic spying
program are being patriotic. They are standing up for the
freedoms that the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights guarantee to
all Americans. <more>
Last month, United States Senator Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, introduced a resolution to censure George W. Bush for breaking the law by engaging in domestic spying without a warrant.
The response from the administration was predictable and partisan. Dick Cheyney said in a speech the next day: “Instead of acknowledging the urgent need to track enemy communications in wartime, some Democrats in Congress have decided that the president is the enemy.”
Shortly after that, Republican Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado chimed in with the same theme. He accused Senator Feingold of siding with terrorists.
These are reprehensible tactics of men who are afraid to have a legitimate debate about constitutional issues that are of grave importance to the freedoms we have historically enjoyed in this country. They try to win their arguments by instilling fear.
Because they cannot refute ideas on merit, they attack their fellow Americans and accuse them of a lack of patriotism and of being soft on terrorism.
Contrary to the statement of Dick Cheyney, Democrats DO acknowledge the need to track enemy communications in wartime, but we simply believe the president should follow the fairly easy legal procedures for doing so. The issue is not whether the president should be allowed to snoop on terrorists – clearly he should be. The issue is whether he should be allowed to snoop on American citizens without a warrant – clearly, he should not be.
Those who speak out against the warrantless domestic spying program are being patriotic. They are standing up for the freedoms that the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights guarantee to all Americans. <more>
Senator Fumo Remarks on the Floor of the Senate, March 27, 2006
Last week, King George ventured from his palace on Pennsylvania Avenue to do something he rarely does. He actually spoke with some average Americans. He held a meeting with citizens in Cleveland, and this time they were not all conservative loyalists who could be counted upon to ask fawning questions that allowed him to duck the real issues.
The result was predictable. He resorted to more lies.
One gentleman in the audience rose to confront King George on being wrong about weapons of mass destruction, and wrong about Iraq’s links to the attacks of September 11th, and wrong about Iraq purchasing nuclear materials from Niger.
Bush responded this way: "First, just if I might correct a misperception, I don't think we ever said -- at least I know I didn't say that there was a direct connection between September the 11th and Saddam Hussein."
That is just one more George Bush falsehood. In fact, on at least two other occasions, he did just that:On March 21, 2003, Bush wrote in a letter to Congress: "The use of armed forces against Iraq is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."
Senator Fumo's remarks on the Floor of the Senate, March 20, 2006, on the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq.
This month marks a grim anniversary. It has now been three years since the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq, a war sold to the American public on false pretenses, a war that stands not as a symbol of democracy, but of the dark and cynical politics of fear.
These three years of repeated Bush miscalculations have produced disaster upon disaster in Iraq. These three years have brought that country to the brink of civil war. These three years have taken a country that had only tenuous connections to al Qaida, and transformed it into a major haven for terrorists. These three years have made the United States less safe, not more.
In fact, if there is one theme that runs through the Bush presidency, it is incompetence.
The grisly result in Iraq is a waste of American lives. To date, 2,318 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. Another 16,653 have been wounded, 7,912 of them too seriously to return to action.
And now, approximately a half trillion dollars of taxpayer money has been wasted there. <more>
Senator Fumo's remarks on the floor of the Senate, February 7, 2006, regarding George W. Bush's domestic spying program.
This year marks the 300th birthday of one this nation’s most important founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Institutions and organizations in my home town of Philadelphia are sponsoring an exhibition in his honor. It will later travel to cities throughout the nation.
Yet as we celebrate the birthday of a man who forcefully argued for the principles behind our constitutional democracy, we find that our freedoms are under attack today by the current occupant of the White House, a man who has sworn a sacred oath to uphold the constitution that Franklin and the other founding fathers signed in 1787.
Children learn in elementary school that the essential safeguard upon which our democracy is built is our system of checks and balances, which distributes power among three branches of government. Our founding fathers feared concentrating too much power in an executive. They did not want another King George III or an imperial presidency.
Now, hiding behind a “war on terror,” the man who now holds the reins of executive-branch power has violated the constitution. He has trampled on Fourth Amendment rights. To the horror of many people, regardless of political party, he has engaged in domestic spying, wiretapping American citizens without a warrant. He is King George II of Texas, instead of King George III of England. <more>
Senator Fumo's remarks on the Floor of the Senate, January 23, 2006, concerning the Bush Administration tactics in conducting the war in Iraq.
Several weeks ago, Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin, age 44, of Mercer, Pennsylvania was killed in Iraq. He died in Ar Ramadi, on Jan. 5, when he was conducting a dismounted patrol at an Iraqi police recruiting station, and an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near his position. Lt. Col. McLaughlin was assigned to the Army National Guard's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division. He was the first officer from the Pennsylvania National Guard to be killed in combat since World War II.
Lt. Col. McLaughlin was among 49 US combat fatalities in Iraq so far this month. And he was one of two Pennsylvanians killed on the same day. Also on Jan. 5, Corporal Albert P. Gettings, age 27, of New Castle, died from wounds received as a result of enemy small-arms fire while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Fallujah. Gettings was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
These brave Pennsylvanians are among the 2,229 American soldiers who have been killed in Iraq since this misguided war began in March 2003. Another 16,420 have been wounded.
I last spoke about Iraq in this chamber on July 5, 2005. And at that time, the U.S. military death toll was 1,742, and the wounded stood at 13,074. So in the past six-plus months, although the Bush administration has continued to defend its actions, the carnage has not abated.
While Americans are proud of our fighting men and women, and while we honor them for doing their duty, our countrymen doubt more and more whether the sacrifice is worth it. <more>
Senator Fumo's remarks on the Floor of the Senate, July 5, 2005
Over the past few weeks we again witnessed the Bush Administration contradicting itself. On the one hand, vice president Cheney was promising America not long ago that the insurgency in Iraq was in its last throes. But then the head of the Army’s Central Command said the insurgency was not weakening. And then, two Sundays ago Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said he expected the insurgency to last another 10 to 12 years.
I would hope that no matter how long the insurgency lasts, this administration would bring our troops home, out of harms way. Far too many of our young men and women have died already – 1,742 Americans killed in action in Iraq as of the beginning of this week. Another 6,442 have been wounded too seriously to return to action. If we count those hurt less seriously who did return to action, a total of 13,074 U.S. soldiers have been wounded. <more>
Senator Fumo's remarks on the floor of the Senate, June 21, 2005
Following the terrorist attacks against our country on September 11, 2001, a wave of patriotic feeling unlike any we had seen in generations swept over America.
Almost universally, we put our political differences and our partisanship aside, we rallied behind the leaders of our nation, and we vowed to do what ever was necessary to protect our country from future attacks.
Unfortunately, there were those who took advantage of that unity and of that patriotism, to undermine the principles of freedom and democracy for which America stands. George W. Bush and a few high-ranking members of his administration, allied with a small handful of zealots in the U.S. Congress, conspired to trample on the Bill of Rights, and destroy the checks and balances contained in our Constitution. <more>
Senator Fumo's made remarks on the floor of the Senate, June 14, 2005, concerning the Bush Administration's failure to properly armor and equip American troops fighting in Iraq:
I would like to pay tribute today to two more brave sons of Pennsylvania who gave their lives while serving with the United States armed forces in Iraq.
Specialist Michael J. Smith, age 24, of Media, Pennsylvania, died on January 11 in Ar Ramadi, when his military vehicle was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. Smith was assigned to the1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division.
Staff Sergeant Thor H. Ingraham, 24, of Murrysville, Pa., died on May 8 in Khalidiyah (Ka-LID-ee-ah), Iraq, while he was involved in combat operations and an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Notice that both of these young Pennsylvanians were hit while in vehicles. That is a very common type of casualty among our service men and women in Iraq. They are ambushed by insurgents as they travel through the countryside. In fact, about 40 percent of our combat losses now occur that way.
Far too often, our soldiers have been victimized not just by enemy combatants, but by the Bush Administration’s failure to provide them with adequate protection. Many deaths have occurred because our vehicles lacked sufficient armor. Also, individual soldiers have been sent into the field without proper equipment, such as body armor. <more>
June 7, 2005 -- Senator Fumo spoke on the floor of the Senate, commemorating the recent Memorial Day by honoring two fallen soldiers from Pennsylvania who died in Iraq. He also read into the record a column by Bob Herbert of the New York Times, pointing out that because of the Bush Administration's human rights violations at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prison and its handling of the war in Iraq, ithe United States is no longer regarded as a symbol of freedom in much of the world.
This week is the first meeting of the Senate since Memorial Day, and I think it is especially appropriate today to continue the practice I began in April of reading the names of several soldiers from Pennsylvania who have been killed in Iraq.
As we remember all of America’s war dead in this Memorial Day season, let us pause for a moment and pay tribute to two in particular – not because their service or their deaths were in any way extraordinary, but simply because it helps remind us that these are typical young Americans in the military, who routinely puts their lives on the line for their country as they do their duty.
Corporal Kyle J. Renehan, age 21, of Oxford, Pa., died December 9 in Germany, from injuries received on November 29 as result of enemy action in Babil Province, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Air Control Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 28, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Corporal Michael R. Cohen, age 23, of Jacobus, Pa., died November 22 as result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.
We can and should be proud of these young men. They truly did die in service to their country, even though the leaders of that country let them down by sending them poorly prepared into a war based on false pretenses. Those brave soldiers, I am confident, joined the United States Armed Forces to fight for freedom, and for that they deserve our gratitude.
It is not their fault that their leaders, our leaders, are misguided. There was a time when most of the world looked at America, and at the American GI, as symbols of freedom. Sadly, the world doesn’t look at us that way any more. <more>
May 2, 2005 -- Senator
Vince Fumo spoke on the floor of the state Senate today to pay tribute
to some of the Pennsylvanians killed in the war in Iraq.
Several weeks ago, I rose in this chamber and read the names of two Pennsylvanians killed in the Iraq War, along with a few details of how they died in combat.
I want us to remember that American fatalities over there are not just statistics. They are the lost lives of real flesh and blood human beings, usually young people entering the prime of their lives, who should have been able to look forward to a bright future.
Today I would like to pay tribute, by name, to two more Pennsylvanians who sacrificed their lives in Iraq.
According to statistics released by the Department of Defense, 1,576 Americans have now been killed in combat in Iraq since that war started.
Of those, 1,369 have been killed since July 2, 2003. What is the significance of that date? Because on July 2, 2003, the Texas cowboy who occupies the White House said of the enemies who wanted to fight us in Iraq: “Bring them on.” 1,369 Americans killed, among them Corporal Grimes and Sergeant Swank, since George Bush challenged the Iraqi insurgents to “bring them on.” <more>
April 19, 2005 -- Senator Fumo spoke on the floor of the Senate today to commemorate the passing of Franklin Delano Roosevelt 60 years ago last week. Included in his remarks, he read a column from Bob Herbert that appeared April 18 in the New York Times.
At this time in our nation’s history, when the glorious legacy of the New Deal is under attack by the party in power in Washington, I want to take a few moments to commemorate the passing of the man whose great vision brought a measure of basic financial security to all people, regardless of their social status.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt believed that everyone has a right to share in the American dream, and he believed that government had the power to help fulfill that dream for all people.
A column in the New York Times yesterday, by Bob Herbert, mourned not only the passing of FDR 60 years ago, but also mourned how far our contemporary government leaders have strayed from his ideals. Because Mr. Herbert said it so well, I would like to share his column with you now.
The headline said:
A Radical in the White House <more>
April 11, 2005 -- Senator Fumo spoke on the floor of the Senate today about some of the ways the war in Iraq is hurting the United States. Following are his remarks:
Last week marked the beginning of the major league baseball season, and I’m sure my colleagues in this chamber join me in wishing our Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates a successful season.
We would do well to remember, however, that although sports often provide a welcome respite from the problems of our world, they are still merely a temporary diversion. So while young people from the major leagues all the way down to neighborhood youth teams look forward to a new baseball season, other young Americans are putting their lives in danger fighting a war in Iraq. Tragically, some of them will yet lose their lives to that war.
A story in the Washington Post last week, as opening day of the baseball season approached, strangely juxtaposed baseball and Iraq. It serves to remind us of the many different ways we are paying a huge cost for a Bush Administration war that was launched upon false premises and misinformation.
As we know, Major League baseball has returned to our nation’s capital, with the Washington Nationals. According to the news story in the Post, the United States Army has considered the unusual step of purchasing the naming rights to the stadium where the new team will pay its home games. The Army believes it has to raise its profile, because its recruiting numbers are way down. Then a few days ago came another news story, announcing that the National Guard is also considering purchasing the naming rights at RFK Stadium.
Understandably, Bush’s war in Iraq is dampening enthusiasm for life in the military. <more>
May 1, 2002 -- Senator Fumo spoke on the floor of the Senate today concerning the proposed state budget for 2002-2003. His remarks followed the adoption of a series of amendments offered by Democrats that provided dramatic increases in state funding for local school districts, and new or additional state aid for a number of other causes. Those included prescription drug insurance for senior citizens, the HEMAP program that helps homeowners keep their homes if they lose their jobs, funding for higher education, cancer research, care of children with disabilities and support for their families, support for volunteer firefighters and emergency crews, and protection of open spaces and clean air and water.
Fumo urged the Republican majority to argue for retaining those items when the final version of the budget is negotiated among the House, Senate and the Governor.
Following are excerpts of his remarks:
This has been a good process. It showed the people of Pennsylvania that there was a lot of common ground on things we want to do for Pennsylvania.
This budget, while not perfect, in a year when we are looking at a downturn in the economy, is really not a bad budget as amended. <more>
Excerpts of remarks on the Floor of the Senate, October 23, 2001.
The PRESIDENT. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Philadelphia, Senator Fumo.
Senator FUMO. Mr. President, I am kind of torn on this particular piece of legislation because I have been a great critic of the way in which the Philadelphia School District has been run, and not just all of a sudden. Right now it is in vogue for everyone to go and attack the district. I was a great critic of the way the district was run when Ed Rendell was mayor and begged him to go into that district to try and straighten it out. Rather, he shunned his responsibilities and looked elsewhere for things to do. Mr. President, so from that standpoint, I really do not care if the State takes over the system. If the State wants to take over the system and they think they can do a better job than what has been done down there, that is fine. However, do not kid yourself. It is not an easy thing to do. There are 210,000 children in that district. That is a number that is incomprehensible to many of you. I got involved in a charter school in my district, and then I got involved in another charter school, and they work. It is interesting to say, gee, I can go into a school and see 16 children in a classroom with a teacher and a teacher aide and have a wonderful building and a great facility and dedicated teachers, all for $1,000 less. But the reason why that happens is because the community comes together. There are concerned parents, there is a board that actually does a lot of the work, and you are only dealing with a couple hundred children. You start to multiply that, and instead of getting economies of scale, you get the disaster of bureaucracy, and that is what we have in Philadelphia. It is simply too big. If you think you are going to come in and run it better with Edison or anybody else to privatize anything, come on in and try. It is not going to work. <more>
CITES UNMET NEEDS WHILE BUSINESS TAX BREAKS CONTINUE
No budget is ever perfect, and there are always needs that are unfunded. A budget is in fact a political document. The budget is in fact an expression of what the General Assembly and governor consider important aor not important.
I have always believed that government was created to help those people who cannot help themselves.
And in this particular case, this budget did not help poor school districts in Pennsylvania who cannot help themselves.
And I don’t just say Philadelphia, because Philadelphia is a large problem, but there are just as many rural and poor districts out there who have the same problems, in fact worse problems than Philadelphia. They just don’t deal with the same numbers. We have still not addressed that adequately in this budget.
We have still not addressed adequately the needs of our senior citizens who need help with prescription drugs. And yes, we have not addressed the needs of our volunteer fire companies. <more>
REMARKS ON STATE TAKEOVER OF PARKING AUTHORITY
One of the favorite sayings of this governor is "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." He and his spin doctors use that line all the time when they give interviews, as they are so fond of doing, to talk about how openly they are running the government.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. So it’s no wonder that they kept this bill in the dark up to the very last minute. It needs disinfectant so badly that you can already smell it all the way to the Ohio border.
Even after the Republicans brought this out of the closet less than 24 hours ago and railroaded it through the House, they still weren’t being honest about it. As they sit here today prepared to railroad it through the Senate, they still aren’t being open about what this bill does or about the number of dollars it will provide.
They are trying to sell it as help for the Philadelphia School District, when in fact it nothing more than a political patronage grab.<<more>>
EULOGIZES FORMER GOV. CASEY
MILLION MOM MARCH
Mr. President, I rise to take issue with my two colleagues who have just spoken on a number of points. Number one, I do not know that the love of a father for his children is any less than the love of a mother for her children. While I fully appreciate and think it is a wonderful thing that Americans gather in Washington to express their concern about violence, gun violence and their children, I do believe that the liberal position that they have taken and that has been espoused on behalf of their leadership is simply unbelievably and thoroughly misguided.<<More>>
$100 HOMEOWNERS REBATE DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH
Mr. President, not to digress from heating oil problems, which we all share an interest in, but tomorrow morning Governor Ridge is expected to make a major announcement regarding a tax relief program that was largely influenced and thought up by Senate Democrats.
Tomorrow morning, Mr. President, the Governor will tout a one-time, $100 tax credit for Pennsylvania homeowners. And while we are encouraged by that small step, we are also disappointed that it does not go far enough. What is needed in this Commonwealth is real tax relief, not a one-time political gimmick conveniently thought of during an election year.<<More>>
MUNICIPALITIES FROM SUING GUN MANUFACTURERS
Mr. President, this amendment, this bill, restates the obvious. There are two parts to the lawsuit provision in this legislation. The first part says that you cannot use taxpayer money to sue a manufacturer for doing something which is legal and lawful. Now, that is common sense. You should not be able to sue that person at all for doing something that is legal and lawful. But in America we are allowed to sue anybody for anything. So all we are saying here is that you cannot use taxpayer money to sue that manufacturer for something he might be doing that is legal and lawful.
The second part of the bill, which nobody seems to want to look at, which is on page 11, says you can use taxpayer money to sue that manufacturer for anything he does that is illegal, unlawful, breaks a warranty, breaks a contract, implied or otherwise.<<More>>
MILTON SHAPP AND THE STATE LOTTERY
Mr. President, at this time I rise to speak a little about the Pennsylvania Lottery. This month the Pennsylvania Lottery celebrated its 25th anniversary in a game show hosted by Dick Clark. As I watched the special, I noted that there was one glaring omission: the absence of any mention of the man who was responsible for starting the Pennsylvania Lottery, Governor Milton Shapp. I would like to take a few minutes to remember the man who propelled the idea through the General Assembly. <<More>>
ON THE 1996-97 STATE BUDGET
Within the confines of our minority position, we had some input into this document. But make no mistake about it, the boundaries were drawn by Republicans, and we all operated within those boundaries.<<More>>
10% GUARANTEED RATE SAVINGS TO ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS Speech on the Senate Floor, November 25, 1996
Mr. President, having watched with amazement the last consumer amendment fall 21-29 along party lines, I am not overly optimistic that this will not be the same. But, Mr. President, I have an obligation to come to this Chamber and try to get some of my Republican colleagues to share some compassion for the ratepayers of Pennsylvania, actually the consumers of Pennsylvania. What this amendment says is that there shall be a 10-percent reduction in the cost of electric for residential ratepayers and small business operators. <<More>>
We now have before us a substantial change in the Pennsylvania workers' compensation law. However, because of the tactics of the Majority party, most of the Members of this Chamber will neither have an opportunity to amend the bill not alter it in any fashion. This bill, although despite the arguments of my sincerely good friend on the other side of the aisle, the gentleman from Lancaster, Senator Armstrong, returns this Commonwealth back to the days of Charles Dickens, where we no longer care about workers. We treat workers as commodities to be expended when necessary, and woe be they if they get hurt on the job. Throw them away and get someone new.<<More>>
HEALTH CARE BENEFITS
FOR WORKING POOR
These are my comments from the March 18, 1996 debate on Senate Bill 1441. The action in this legislation which troubled me the most is one that removed assisted health care benefits for 250,000 working poor Pennsylvanians. These are some comments that I made as I introduced an amendment to maintain these health care benefits for the working poor. The amendment failed 24-25.
The Senate Democrats and I later offered several other amendments, including ones to keep health care eligibility for medically needs persons who work an average of at least 20 hours a week, to provide health care assistance to those who were terminated from employment without cause within the prior 6 months, and to provide health care assistance to chronically needy persons starting at the age of 50 instead of 65. These amendments failed as well.<<More>>
Mr. Chairman, there is obviously in our community a great mood to reform welfare. Yet I am very disappointed in the Republican party. After 20 years they are still not able to reform welfare. My true suspicion, however, is that they never want to "reform welfare". Be that as it may, we can go along with many of the things in this bill -- we think that in some cases there are some good ideas, in some cases they are not that objectionable. However, Mr. Chairman, we find the provision to remove a quarter of a million Pennsylvanians from medical assistance the most reprehensible, mean spirited short sighted idea ever to come before the General Assembly.
It is one thing to say, we don't want people driving Cadillacs, although I haven't seen many of them on welfare. It is one thing to talk about some welfare recipient buying steak with food stamps -- I've never seen that lady either, but I've heard the story. But it is totally another thing to say that we want people to get sick and die. Medical Assistance is not a benefit that can be given out and you can take and bargain somewhere else.<<More>>
I made these comments on the floor of the Senate as I offered an amendment to Special Session House Bill 110. My amendment contained the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act of 1995.
This legislation is the result of several statewide hearings held by the Select Committee to Investigate Automatic and Semi-Automatic Firearms, of which I was the Chairman. My amendment was amended by other members of the Senate and passed 50-0. This legislation is now Special Session Act 17 of 1995.
Mr. President, first of all, a little bit of history about amendment A2571. I would first like to thank all of the members of the committee who studied this issue with me. This originally started out as the Committee on Semiautomatic and Automatic Firearms in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which was originated by an amendment by Representative Ryan in the House of Representatives. the members included myself, the gentleman from Bucks, Senator Heckler, and the gentleman from Mercer, Senator Robbins, from this Chamber, and from the House were Representative James and Representative Merle Phillips. Also, the committee was broad-based, it was bipartisan. There were members who were advocates of gun control and members who were advocates of no gun control. The National Rifle Association had a member on the committee, the United Sportsmen of Pennsylvania has a member on the Committee, Handgun Control, Inc., had a member on the committee, the Attorney General's Office was represented, as was the Governor's Office and numerous other groups.
Mr. President, we went through this Commonwealth and conducted hearings on the issues of not only semiautomatic and automatic firearms but the issues in general of firearms and crime was they pertained to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.<<More>>
These comments were made on the occasion of the execution of Keith Zettlemoyer. Mr. Zettlemoyer was the first person executed by Pennsylvania in more than 33 years.
Mr. President, I was not planning to speak on this issue, but because the gentleman from Allegheny, Senator Fisher, raised it, I feel compelled to address it.
I do not know if tonight is going to be a night that is going to make us all feel safe. I do not necessarily know that anyone is going to be deterred from committing another horrible act of homicide because of this, because no statistic can point to that. But I also know this: That while we are giving out praise to the Governor, if that is the kind of praise he wants, I guess we should give praise to Governor Casey, who originally signed this warrant. He was criticized for being too soft and not signing warrants quick enough. This is Governor Casey's warrant. And the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that we all criticize could have stayed it. It did not. So I guess we could give credit to the six members of that court, and the other court. So if there is that kind of praise to be given, I guess there is enough to go around.
Mr. President, however, I think that this is a sad day for Pennsylvania. The death penalty is, very obviously, a serious punishment to inflict upon anyone, and I think that it should only be inflicted in extremely rare cases.<<More>>
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo