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Mr. LARSEN of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for the Conference Report on the Weapons Acquisition System Reform Through Enhancing Technical Knowledge and Oversight Act (WASTE TKO Act). This legislation will reform how the Department of Defense purchases weapons and help ensure the strong oversight of our defense budget that taxpayers deserve.
In recent years, the Defense Department's spending plans have been unrealistic and unsustainable. Much of the growth in our defense budget has been driven by weapons programs that cost too much and take too long to develop. According to a Government Accountability Office study released this year, cost overruns from ninety-six Department of Defense weapons programs have totaled $296 billion. These same programs were, on average, 21 months behind schedule. President Obama has said that procurement reform could save taxpayers as much as $40 billion each year.
Our current approach asks, ``how much money can we get for the weapon?'' But we ought to ask, ``how much weapon can we get for the money?'' Every dollar that we spend on an over-budget weapons system is a dollar that cannot be used to support the urgent needs of our servicemembers and their families. Cost overruns alone would pay the salaries for our active-duty military and health care for them and their families for two and a half years.
The WASTE TKO Act will address deep-seated and systemic problems in how we procure weapons. This bill will require the Department of Defense to provide more realistic estimates of how much weapons will cost and punish those programs which are failing to meet schedule and cost goals. This legislation will demand additional focus during the early stages of weapons development, when small program changes can have major long-term consequences. When it comes to defense procurement, an ounce of oversight is worth a pound of cure.
I applaud Chairman Ike Skelton, Ranking Member John McHugh, and the Members of the Armed Services Committee's Defense Acquisition Reform Panel for their work to develop this legislation.
As a member of the House Budget Committee and the Armed Services Committee, I am committed to providing for a strong national defense that gives our women and men in uniform the tools they need to do their jobs, while delivering strong oversight of the defense budget that reins in out-of-control spending on major weapons systems. I urge my colleagues to join with me in supporting a strong national defense and accountability of taxpayer dollars by voting yes on the WASTE TKO Act.
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