WASHINGTON - History was made yesterday as the year's first meeting of the House defense appropriations subcommittee got started. For the first time, two women were members - Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D, Toledo) and Rep. Kay Granger (R, Texas).
Miss Kaptur, whose 17-year struggle to establish a national World War II memorial resulted in the dedication of the memorial in the nation's capital last year, is the longest-serving female Democrat in the House. As the subcommittee for the first time made way for women, she said she told the male members, "This turns a new page in history."
The closed-door meeting was on equipment shortages in Iraq and Afghanistan and included Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James Mattis, com- manding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va. His controversial statements earlier this month in a panel discussion in San Diego about fighting the war on terror have put him in the media's spotlight. According to TV transcripts from an audio recording of his remarks, he said, "It's fun to shoot some people [in combat]."
After the comments caused an uproar, the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Mike Hagee, said he had "counseled" General Mattis concerning his remarks.
Miss Kaptur said General Mattis did an "excellent" job in his appearance before the subcommittee.
The subcommittee will tackle the largest discretionary portion of President Bush's proposed budget - the $419 billion he is seeking for the Pentagon as well as the additional $82 billion he has requested for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Citing the conflicts in which America is engaged, Miss Kaptur said in a statement: "Service on this subcommittee will place me in the eye of these struggles.
"In addition, with base closings being discussed by the Bush administration, this position will enable me to be a stronger voice for Ohio and our entire Midwest region."
Miss Kaptur takes credit for new facilities for the 180th Tactical Fighter Squadron through prior service on the military construction subcommittee.
She said she would continue to press her concerns "about the recruitment challenges" facing the armed forces.
"Our primary concern must be maintaining strength, readiness, and morale in the ranks," she said.
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