Department Of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010
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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Speaker, I want to echo the comments of my Ranking Members, Mr. Young and Mr. Lewis. This is a good bill, thanks to the hard work of our Chairman Jack Murtha, his Ranking Member Bill Young and their capable staffs.
Clearly, had I written the bill, I would have written it differently in certain areas. (I certainly would not have tacked on a record increase in the debt limit!)
My major regret is that we should have done more.
This bill started out $3.5 billion short of the President's request-- despite the fact that we are engaged in two, hard-fought wars.
And now, we have a larger mission in Afghanistan involving more soldiers and Marines and a more complex and expensive operations to support and resupply them.
At a time when this Congress has found the `will and the wallet' to throw billions of borrowed dollars at every domestic program under the sun, our leaders are finding ways to cut defense--sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant.
I tell my Colleagues who have pledged to support a strong national defense, that this bill is the high water mark. It's all downhill from here.
With that said, Madam Speaker, there is much to like in the base bill.
I support reform of our military acquisition processes.
I support Secretary Gates' program to re- examine our national security priorities in light of the new irregular challenges and threats that are proliferating well beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.
I support funding in the bill for: a 3.4 percent pay raise for our troops (all volunteers); over $29 billion to provide first class medical care through our Defense Health program; $15 billion to allow the Navy to build seven ships; funding for more F/A-18 aircraft. We also set the stage for a future multi-year procurement of the F-18 aircraft to begin to close the Navy's ``fighter gap;'' $6.3 billion for 6,600 more lightweight MRAPs for Afghanistan. These vehicles are badly needed as IED's have proliferated;
However, I wish we could find a way to restore the cuts to missile defense and ensure that the F-22 assembly line keeps rolling.
In this context, Madam Speaker, I worry that this Administration is not making the investments today to ensure that we will be prepared to defend our interests against all threats in the years to come.
I must also add that I am very concerned about the Majority's insistence on using this bill, and our troops, to pass unrelated, and sometimes controversial provisions. For example, this bill should not be the vehicle to legislate Medicare doctor's payments, COBRA, Satellite television, nutrition assistance reauthorization, the PATRIOT Act and other provisions.
In closing, I thank Chairman Murtha and Ranking Member Young for their leadership.
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