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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the Levin-McCain amendment on the F-22. I was listening with interest to the chairman speak a little bit earlier when he raised several points that I am going to address specifically as I get into the guts of the argument. I think it is kind of interesting when he gives a list of those individuals in the Pentagon and in the White House who are now in opposition to continued production of the F-22. Interestingly enough, everybody he talked about--from the President to the Secretary of Defense, to the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs--every single one of those individuals is political. They are appointed. They are appointed by the President.

I am going to talk about some individuals who are in support of the F-22 who are not appointed. No. 1, they are the men and women who fly the F-22. Secondly, it is men who have had the courage to wear the uniform of the United States of America in an unparalleled way that I have seen since I have been here, who have been willing to stand up to that political leadership and say: You guys are wrong. They have been willing to stand and say that if you cut off production of the F-22 at 187, you are going to put this country at a high risk from a national security standpoint.

As we go through the debate, it is going to be interesting to contrast the statements and the letters that every Member has received a flurry of over the last several days. I have never seen the White House lobby such as they have lobbied on this issue. For a White House that was not supposed to be a lobbying White House or in support of lobbyists, it has been unparalleled in my now going on 15 years as a Member of the Congress.

Senator Levin spoke earlier about the F-35: We are going to ramp up production. We are going to buy 30 airplanes, 30, in this budget. Well, guess what we are paying for those airplanes. We are paying $200 million a copy. Guess what we are buying an F-22 for today--an airplane that has been through the test phase; an airplane that has proved itself. We are under a multiyear contract that calls for payment by the Air Force to the contractor of $140 million a copy. There is going to be a lot of conversation on this floor about the cost of the F-22, and it is expensive: $140 million a copy is very expensive. But to come in here with a straight face and say we are going to save taxpayers' money by moving to the F-35 and then turn around and say we are going to pay $200 million a copy in this bill for F-35s, something about that doesn't add up.

Well, let me just say we are in a debate with the Pentagon with respect to budgetary issues submitted by the Pentagon to Congress. There are a lot of people who think we ought to step in line, salute the Pentagon and move ahead and do exactly what the Pentagon says with respect to the purchase of weapons systems. Well, that is not the way the Framers of the Constitution intended the Senate and the House to work. Article I, section 8 of the Constitution provides Congress with the power to levy and collect taxes, provide for the common defense of the United States, to raise and support armies and to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.

Clearly, we in Congress have a role in overseeing the Department of Defense, reviewing budgets, and questioning budget and policy recommendations. Our interest and involvement in these issues are appropriate and not just based on parochial issues. We are charged with the responsibility of reviewing DOD policies, whether fiscal policies or otherwise. That is simply a part of our job.

I think it is important to note that on several occasions in recent years, Congress has authorized policy or funding initiatives that DOD has strongly opposed and, in retrospect, Congress was right and DOD was wrong. Perhaps the most similar example to the F-22 is the battle over the F-117 that occurred many years ago when the Air Force wanted to stop buying F-117s. Thank goodness my predecessor, Senator Sam Nunn, who was then chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, forced the Air Force to buy more F-117s. Ironically, part of the Air Force's argument was that they wanted to shift funding and focus to buying more F-22s. The F-117 was critical to establishing air dominance over Iraq in Desert Storm, and we can thank Congress for recognizing the need for more F-117s years ago.

There are several other examples, such as the Goldwater-Nichols Reorganization Act of 1986 and the establishment of Special Operations Command in 1987, both of which were strongly opposed by the Pentagon. Other examples are continuation of the V-22 program and prohibition against retiring U-2s and B-52s, all of which are paying dividends beyond what the military expected, including in Iraq and Afghanistan today.

I wish to address a comment Senator Levin and others have made regarding previous Secretaries of Defense and Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs supporting only 183--or 187 now, with the addition of four F-22s we are buying in the supplemental. First, that number of 183 originally was established not on the basis of any study or analysis--never a study that came out and said we need 183 and we are going to be basing our decision on that--but it was based on PBD 753, which is inside Washington baseball, which was an OSD budget drill 2 days before Christmas in 2004, in which the Air Force had absolutely no input. Neither the Chief of Staff nor the Secretary was involved. A number of ``183'' or ``187'' has always been budget driven and not strategically driven.

There have been at least 10 studies done on F-22 numbers over the past 10 years. Of those, only one, the Joint Air Dominance Study done by DOD in 2005, recommended 183 F-22s. However, that study was based on only needing F-22s in a single-threat scenario and which also used a fixed budget.

Senator Levin mentioned the comments General Cartwright made in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing 2 weeks ago. And he relies heavily on the statement General Cartwright made. General Cartwright responded to a question I asked, and my question to General Cartwright was: General, you say you support terminating the F-22 program at 187. Has there been any one single study, in the Air Force or outside the Air Force, any analysis done that recommends we terminate the program at 187? General Cartwright's statement to me was: Yes; there is a study going on in the Air Force right now that says we should terminate the program at 187.

Well, unfortunately for General Cartwright, we now know no study was
done. It is our understanding that the comment of General Cartwright is being corrected for the record and that we are receiving a corrected statement coming to the committee shortly.

I wish to quote from a statement by Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell that was made last Tuesday with respect to the comments of General Cartwright. This comment is quoted in the Daily Report. It now turns out that a recent study touted by Pentagon leadership as the justification for terminating the F-22 fighter isn't a study at all but a series of briefings by DOD's program analysis and evaluation shop in the Air Force. That word comes from the Pentagon's top spokesman, Geoff Morrell, who told the Daily Report late Tuesday that the study, or whatever it is, is: Not so much a study as work products.

Asked to describe the nature and timing of this study, Morrell told the Daily Report:

What I think General Cartwright was referring to ..... is two different work products--

One by the PA&E shop and one by the Air Force-- and not so much a study.

Since PDB 753, only 183 F-22s have been programmed in the budget, with fiscal year 2009 being the last year of funding. To say previous Secretaries of Defense and Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs supported this is misleading since, until the fiscal year 2010 budget bill process, a decision on whether to buy more F-22s would be deferred to future decisionmakers. It is perhaps with this in mind that Secretary Gates himself decided last year to request additional F-22s in the fiscal year 2009 supplemental, and he did, in order to keep the line open and preserve the next administration's option for procurement of the F-22.

I know the former President, President Bush, did not want to see the program terminated. They can say what they want to on the other side, but having had personal conversations, I know what his feeling was about this great aircraft. He could have terminated the program, but he did not terminate the program. It is this administration that is seeking to terminate this program.

There have been five previous Secretaries of the Air Force, six previous Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force, seven previous Secretaries of Defense before this one, and eight previous commanders of Air Combat Command who have said we need more F-22s. We have supported this program from day one. We have continued to reduce the number from the original 781, now down to 187. The current Chief of Staff of the Air Force, whose letters have been quoted and inserted in the Record where he says we should cap it at 187, has testified time and time and time again in recent days and in recent weeks and who has written me letters stating that the military requirement for F-22s is not 187, it is 243, but he says we can't afford it. Therefore, he has to salute his boss. His boss is a political appointee--Secretary Gates--and the political appointee says we are going to cap it at 187; therefore, that is the direction in which we are going to go and the direction in which you have to salute the flag and move on.

I am going to close my comments at this time and turn to my colleague from Connecticut. Before I do so, I will quote somebody who is not political, somebody who is not an appointee, somebody who is a former Chief of Staff of the Air Force. That is GEN Merrill McPeak, who, last week, in an unsolicited statement, came out and said, when he talked about terminating the F-22 production rate at 187:

I think it's a real mistake. ..... The airplane is a game-changer and people seem to forget that we haven't had any of our soldiers or Marines killed by enemy air since 1951. ..... It's been half a century or more since any enemy aircraft has killed one of our guys.

The F-22 is at the top end. We have to procure enough of them for our ability to put a lid on, to dictate the ceiling of any conflict. We certainly need some figure well above 200. That worries me because I think it is pennywise and pound foolish to expose us in a way this much smaller number does. ..... That's taking too much high-end risk.

General McPeak is a supporter of this administration and, as far as we can tell, he is not a consultant for any major defense contractor. For this reason, I think his comments deserve significant attention and credibility.

I will stop at this point, but I will say more later. I now turn to my colleague, Senator Dodd, who I will say has been a great champion on this issue, a great partner in support of not just the men and women of the Air Force and our other branches that depend on this weapon system to protect America and our soldiers in the field but also a great protector from an economic standpoint.

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Madam President, I want to make a couple of quick comments relative to some of what has been said. First, with regard to Senator Wyden's comments concerning the National Guard, sure, all of us want to make sure we equip our Guard, our Reserve, as well as our active-duty force with all the needs they have. I would cite him to the letter of General Wyatt, who is the head of the Air Force Guard. General Wyatt says the F-22 is uniquely qualified to fill the needs the Guard has for its national security mission. To even slightly indicate that the Guard has issues with this program is simply not correct. The Guard is on record as being a strong supporter of this program.

I have a letter from retired GEN David Bockel, retired from the United States Army. He now is the acting executive director of the Reserve Officers Association. Let me quote part of this:

War plans of the United States are predicated upon technological air dominance to provide asymmetric advantage for victory. Military experts believe the current cap of 187 F-22s is an inadequate number of aircraft to ensure no future threat can impede the U.S. air dominance. The minimum number of F-22s required to ensure a strong defense is 250.

I ask unanimous consent that the letter of retired General Bockel be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. I also have quoted earlier the comments by an active-duty general, a guy I consider a great American hero, not just because he falls in that category of wearing the uniform of the United States, but he is standing up to the personnel at the Pentagon. He is saying: You guys are wrong.

For an active-duty general to do that takes significant courage. This is a guy I want in the foxhole with me. That is General Corley, commander of Air Combat Command, who very clearly says in a letter that we have previously entered into the Record that a fleet of 187 F-22s puts execution of our national military strategy at high risk in the near to midterm and that the minimum number of F-22s we need, in his opinion, is 381.

I want to also talk for a minute about Senator McCain's comments on the cost. This is an expensive weapons system, but it is also the most sophisticated weapons system ever designed by mankind. Most importantly, it is doing its job. It is doing its job in a very professional way. Instead of costing the $350 million Senator McCain stated in his earlier statements, because of a multiyear procurement contract we entered into between the Pentagon and the Air Force, as approved by this body--and I know Senator McCain objected to that and I understand that--but by a vote of 70 to 28, that multiyear contract was approved by this body as well as by the House. As a result, instead of paying the $350 million per copy he alluded to, we are today, under that multiyear contract, paying $140 million a copy. That is in comparison to the $200 million a copy that will be paid for every single F-35 we are buying in this budget. The figure for 200 F-35s in this budget exceeds $6 billion.

There are a number of people who are watching this debate out there today. Certainly those folks at the Pentagon are anxiously awaiting the results of the vote. The White House is anxiously awaiting the results of the vote. The Chinese are anxiously awaiting this vote. Let me tell colleagues why. I want to quote from an article of July 19 from a gentleman named Robert D. Fisher, Jr., who is a senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center. He writes:

Though the Chinese government says next to nothing and the U.S. Government says very little, what is known about China's fifth-generation fighter program is disturbing. Both of China's fighter manufacturers, the Shenyang and Chengdu Aircraft corporations, are competing to build a heavy fifth-generation fighter, and there are serious indicators China may be working on a medium-weight fifth-generation fighter similar to the F-35. China can be expected to put a fifth-generation fighter on its future aircraft carriers, and it can be expected to build more than 187.

I ask unanimous consent that that article be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD

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Mr. CHAMBLISS. There is another group watching very anxiously out there. It is a group of men and women who wear the uniform of the U.S. Air Force. They are lieutenants, captains, and majors. They are watching this anxiously because they are saying to themselves: I signed up to be a part of a U.S. Air Force that believes in putting men and women in cockpits, men and women who are going to carry the fight to the enemy. What am I hearing from Members of Congress? What am I hearing from the leadership at the Pentagon? That we are going to move away from the most advanced fighter in the world today and move to a smaller fighter? That we are going to move away from fighters maybe even altogether by going to UAVs? Is this the Air Force I signed up for?

I can tell my colleagues why they are anxiously awaiting the outcome. They have talked to me time and time again about the fact that they are concerned about their future in the U.S. Air Force. The worst thing we can do is to discourage those brave men and women who want to make a career of the Air Force and want to be wearing the two, three, and four stars one of these days. I assure my colleagues those lieutenants and those captains and those majors are watching what this body does from a policy standpoint today. They know where their leadership at the Pentagon is coming from. They don't like what they are hearing. They are now looking to Congress to fulfill the role that John Hamre, the director of CSIS, has said time and time again, and that is to objectively review the budget the Pentagon sends to the hill. We are in the process of doing that and exercising the type of oversight we should exercise.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.

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