Priorities are the issues that are placed above or come before other matters because they are more important, more urgent and more necessary. Our so-called "domestic priorities" are not being treated like priorities with the urgency that they deserve.
The American people have spoken — both with the midterm election of 2006 and recent polls — telling Congress and the president that our focus needs to shift now. Thousands of lives, hundreds of billions of dollars and countless legislative hours are going toward a war of choice overseas, while priorities at home, and in some cases abroad, sit on the back burner.
For those of you familiar and unfamiliar with the kitchen, let me explain something. The pots that you put on the back burner are the dishes that you have decided are done. The back burner just keeps them warm. Right now, America's priorities, our priorities, are on the back burner.
We are not done addressing the ballooning health care crisis and insuring the 45 million Americans without access to quality care. We are not done helping the still unsettled victims of Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters. And we are not done with the issue we have spent significant resources on: the war in Iraq.
A supplemental spending bill must still be passed that sets deadlines for withdrawal of our troops from Iraq while making sure that they have what they need until we can bring them home.
We will not allow the president to ignore your voices.
The safety and security of our troops, and the citizens of this great nation, are the number one priorities of Congress. For too long, this war has not had adequate Congressional oversight and that is changing now.
We have to hold the president accountable for this war. As the situation escalates in Iraq, we have to work together to secure our brave troops and our nation. We have to tell President Bush and his Republican friends in Congress that our priorities can no longer be ignored. We are currently spending about $10 billion a month, about $2.5 billion a week and $12 million an hour in Iraq. If you do the math, that is $200,000 of your tax money that we send to Iraq every minute.
This is unacceptable without some sort of oversight, some sort of timetable set for the war. Congress is working on your behalf to bring this war to an end. Continue to let your voices be heard because together we can bring our troops home and work on our priorities.
U. S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a Democrat, represents Illinois' 2nd Congressional District.