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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2008

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2008 -- (House of Representatives - May 16, 2007)

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Mr. ANDREWS. Madam Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

My friend from Florida a few minutes ago talked about a threat over the horizon. He is right, it is a threat, and it's over the horizon. This bill takes, to deal with that threat, for every $100 the President asks for, we give them $91.50 to deal with that threat.

We allocate that money in this way. We say for the technologies that are robust and mature and working, let's do more of it to protect us better and sooner. But for the technologies that are untested, let's test them and see if they work.

Now, what do we do with the $8.50 per $100 that we do not put into these untested technologies? We find what the 9/11 Commission has called the grave immediate threat to the country. A grapefruit-sized quantity of loose nuclear material, if made into a bomb by a terrorist group, could create a Hiroshima-type explosion in Times Square in New York City, or at the Washington Mall here in this city.

The administration is on a path to convert reactors that have that loose nuclear material in the former Soviet Union to get them all done in the next 14 years. We don't think that's good enough. So we take the money and speed it up so those reactors will be converted and shut down sooner. That threat is not over the horizon. It is here today.

That is where we should be spending our money, and that is why this amendment should be defeated.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I thank the chairman for yielding.

I oppose this amendment because I believe its provisions subvert the best hope for stabilizing Iraq and ending the Iraqi civil war. I believe that if the responsible Sunni and Shia leadership in that country believe that it will become their responsibility to reach a political settlement to the end of the civil war, they will do so. I believe they will never accept that responsibility if they believe that the presence of the United States is permanent and indefinite.

I think, as the base bill does, that making a statement that we do not wish to have permanent bases in Iraq supports this theory, and will bring about a greater probability of stabilization of Iraq and an end to the Iraqi civil war.

So I believe the amendment sends precisely the wrong message and I oppose it.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

One of the key determinants of the country's economic prosperity in the future and our ability to become less dependent upon imported fuel from around the world is our ability to develop alternative renewable fuels.

One of the most powerful tools at our disposal is the purchasing power of the Department of Defense. Presently, the Department of Defense spends in excess of $3 billion a year to buy electricity.

The purpose of this amendment is to codify a practice that the Secretary of Defense has already initiated, which is to increase the percentage of electricity purchased by the Department of Defense from the 9 percent, which it presently is, up to 25 percent by the year 2025. In order to do this, we believe that the Secretary of Defense should have flexibility. So the amendment provides that if the Secretary in his or her judgment believes that defense and security goals of the country would be in some way impaired by meeting this target, then the Secretary is authorized to waive this target.

We believe that with the adoption of this amendment and of these goals, we would generate a $15 billion market in the purchase of electricity generated by renewable fuels. We further believe that the entrepreneurial capacity of American scientists and entrepreneurs would generate products that would help fill this need. Once those products are available, they would then be widely available to the commercial and nonprofit and public sectors to help us greatly reduce our dependence upon nonrenewable fuels generally, and imported nonrenewable fuels specifically.

I would ask that the amendment be adopted.

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Mr. ANDREWS. If the gentleman would yield.

Mr. HUNTER. I will yield.

Mr. ANDREWS. That is correct. The amendment, as I would have wanted it drafted, would not have had that restriction in it. However, I was required to include it to avoid a point of order for direct spending.

Mr. HUNTER. So if I understand you correctly, it is not your intent to limit the Department's use of third-party financing while they work to achieve the 25 percent requirement that your amendment lays out.

Mr. ANDREWS. If the gentleman will further yield, that is certainly correct.

I know just how beneficial these authorities are to the Department, and I do not want my amendment to prevent the Secretary of Defense from using these tools to continue to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy use in the Department of Defense. My intent is simply to set firm requirements from what I believe is a responsible energy policy for the Department of Defense.

Mr. HUNTER. With that clarification, would you be willing to work with us to further refine this as we move to conference?

Mr. ANDREWS. If the gentleman would yield, I would gladly work with the gentleman.

Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to turn now to the gentleman who is going to make all of this work, and that is the chairman of the committee, my good friend, Mr. Skelton.

I happily support Mr. Andrews' amendment. And I hope that you will work with us here as we move down the line toward conference to ensure that these tools that have been available for increasing efficiency and energy use will be available under Mr. Andrews' amendment.

I would yield to the chairman of the committee.

Mr. SKELTON. I thank my friend for yielding. And without going into great detail, I am appreciative of the fact that Mr. Andrews and you, Mr. Hunter, have worked hard on achieving a balanced solution to this amendment as it is in final form here this evening. I think it's very commendable, and I am very much in favor of it. I thank Mr. Andrews for raising it, and I thank you, Mr. Hunter.

Mr. HUNTER. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, I very strongly support this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, just very briefly. I want to thank the ranking member of the committee for his great cooperation on this, and obviously our chairman for his help, and extraordinarily fine staff work by the majority staff and the minority staff for which I am very grateful, and also the men and women at the CBO, and my own office, Mr. Luke Ballman, for his hard work on this.

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