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Providing for Further Consideration of H.R. 5122, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007

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Location: Washington, DC


PROVIDING FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 5122, NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007 -- (House of Representatives - May 11, 2006)

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Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from New York.

Mr. Speaker, this morning I want to express my deep disappointment that the Rules Committee declined to make my amendment concerning one of the most vital national security issues facing our Nation, our continued dependence on foreign sources of oil, in order.

As Jim Woolsey, the former CIA director, stated, ``The future of our economic and national security is more than ever coupled to our energy policy.'' That is why I believe this amendment would have been so appropriate on this bill.

Let me stress, the amendment that I offered, along with Congressman BART GORDON as well as MARK UDALL, who is on the floor with us right now, was decidedly nonpartisan. It was not offered in an attempt to gain short-term political advantage. It was offered in an attempt to encourage this body to focus on the national security implications of our continued addiction to oil, of which the President spoke in his State of the Union, and to suggest practical methods to address that addiction.

Let me add, when I testified before the Rules Committee on Tuesday, I was pleased with the serious discussion of this amendment, as well as the virtually unanimous support of the concept of this amendment. There was no opposition stated by any member of the committee on either side of the aisle.

In short, this amendment called for three things. First, it would have authorized $250 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, within the Department of Energy.

ARPA-E would encourage and support our best and brightest researchers and scientists to develop cutting-edge technology necessary to make America energy independent.

Second, the amendment would have required the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy and the Director of National Intelligence, to study and report to Congress on the national security implications of our increasing demand for foreign oil.

Finally, the amendment would have increased the funds available for the Defense Energy Support Center which buys and manages oil and other energy supplies for the military service, the largest user of petroleum in our country.

It also would have increased the funds available for the Advanced Power Technology Office which promotes the increased use of fuel cells, electric hybrids and hydrogen for military and homeland defense vehicles and equipment.

These proposals would have been paid for by shifting more than $300 million in excess funds from the $9.1 billion proposed for ballistic missile defense programs. I refer to them as ``excess'' because the staff says they cannot be spent in fiscal year 2007.

Let me conclude by saying that it is imperative that the Members address this vital issue. I am pleased that Mr. Skelton, Mr. Spratt and other members were supportive.

Energy independence must be addressed in a serious, thoughtful manner. When we put our minds to something, in my opinion, Americans can solve any of the problems that confront them. Now, more than ever, we must focus on addressing our addiction to foreign sources of oil.

I want to say in closing that I deeply regret that this important issue was not allowed to come to the floor. I understand that portions of this, only a portion, was considered in the committee, but surely the issue of addiction to petroleum products, which our President has talked about, is worthy of bringing to this floor, and I urge that it be done.

I oppose this rule because I believe it has been restrictive to the detriment of our national security and democracy in this House.

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Mr. HOYER. We had a very thoughtful discussion about what you have raised as alternative sources of energy in our own country, or alternative sources for petroleum products in our own country. A full discussion. I think that is a worthy discussion.

I do not think the amendment that I offered in any way negates that discussion or negates the importance of having that debate. I agree with the gentleman.

With respect to the source of funding, the staff discussed it. We believe in the $9.1 million in 2007 this sum cannot be spent because of practical reasons, as the gentleman probably knows, and I think his staff agrees because we worked with his staff and with Mr. Skelton and Mr. Spratt to ensure that we were not undermining because as you know, I have been supportive of the defense system.

We believe this is such a critical issue. And as I said, the President raised the addiction. We have to transfer not only the price that the consumer is paying, which is affected by the lack of alternatives to petroleum products, and therefore, those producers of petroleum products throughout the world have us as a captive consumer and we do not have price flexibility, but also in terms of the price at the pump for our consumers.

So both from a national security standpoint and an economic standpoint, I think this was the way to go.

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