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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, the best way to defend this country is to have every person who is willing to serve her have the opportunity to do so and who is able to do so. That's the intention of the Murphy amendment which, frankly, there have been a series of misrepresentations about.

Let's set the record straight. If the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe, after listening to the input of our service personnel, after reviewing the facts, if they believe that implementation of this policy would in any way undercut the readiness or effectiveness of our Armed Forces, they will not certify the policy, and it will not happen. This policy will happen only when the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff say that it's the right thing to do for this country.

The right thing to do for this country is not to ask someone what church they go to, what country they came from, what color they are, or what their sexual orientation is. It's to ask if they're willing and able to serve, and that is what we are going to do.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I think that the process that my friend from California lays out is a correct one, that there should be wide solicitation of views from those who wear the uniform, and there will be.

And the amendment that Mr. Murphy will be offering later today simply says this: If, after that process the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff believe that the evidence shows that implementation of the repeal would undercut the readiness or effectiveness of our troops, they will not certify that the policy should be put into effect, and it won't be. The Secretary has repeatedly said, Admiral Mullen has repeatedly said the question is not whether repeal should take place, but how.

Mr. Murphy's amendment will set up a rational process for that to take place. I believe it's the right thing to do, and I support Mr. Smith's amendment which is before us right now.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I thank the chairman for yielding.

Certainly, the debate the minority keeps bringing up about Don't Ask, Don't Tell is very important, and we will have that vigorous debate.

Mr. Chairman, I think many Americans don't really place whether gays and lesbians can serve in the military as the number one thing they worry about in national security. I think they're probably more worried about something like a nuclear IED going off in Times Square.

It is important to look at the work that the two parties have done together that is reflected in this bill to prevent that day from happening. There is a program which identifies, gathers up, secures, and eventually disposes of the material that could make a nuclear bomb which would make that horror story happen.

In 2008, we devoted $199 million to that program. Frankly, it was lagging behind. We weren't identifying, securing, or disposing of enough of it. This year, we are putting $559 million into that, which means more nuclear material will be identified, locked down, disposed of, and the risk that we will have a terrible situation like I just described will be diminished.

This is the real work of the defense committee, and it deserves everyone's support.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, Members should ask themselves these questions in deciding this issue: When it comes to saving money, would you rather have two people competing or one for your business?

When it comes to protecting the fleet, the ability to fly, would you rather rely upon one company or two to keep the fleet flying?

When it comes to competition, should you presume that competition works or presume that it shouldn't?

To save money, to protect the fleet, to promote competition, we should oppose this amendment.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I yield myself 2 minutes before I yield to my friend from New Jersey.

Mr. Chairman, the minority, for understandable reasons, wants to continue talking about the Murphy amendment, which is not on the floor.

Again, to set the record straight, the Murphy amendment has reflected the views of the joint Chiefs of Staff and of the Secretary of Defense for a very long time. The question has been not ``if'' we are going to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell but when and how.

The Murphy amendment says that the policy will not be repealed. It will stay in effect until such time as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense certify that nothing about that repeal will in any way undermine the security of the country, the efficiency of the Armed Forces or their effectiveness.

Now, the minority wants to keep talking about this. I think the American people, Mr. Chairman, are a lot more interested in some of the terrorism threats this country is actually facing.

By the way, one of the reasons those terrorism threats are more difficult is that we don't have enough Arabic speakers in the intelligence units of our Armed Forces. At least several dozen, perhaps several hundred, Arabic-speaking persons have been expelled from the Armed Forces because of their sexual orientation. That doesn't strike me as a particularly good way to protect national security.

Beyond that, though, a good way to protect national security, which is in this bill, is to strengthen our special forces. This legislation spends $9.8 billion on our Special Operations Command, the highest in the history of the country.

So, when we call upon brave Americans to kick down that door or to do a commando raid in any dark corner of the world, which is going to prevent a terrorist attack in this country, this bill supports them. Both parties support that and both bills fund it. That is the issue that is actually before the American people.

At this time, I yield 2 minutes to someone who has done tremendous work on dealing with brain injuries and other traumas associated with brain injuries, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pascrell).

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, before I yield to my friend, I yield myself 90 seconds.

The gentleman from Indiana's point about the servicemembers being listened to is absolutely right, which is why Mr. Murphy's amendment says--I will comment since he did--if after hearing the comments of the servicemembers the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that there would be an impairment of their ability to defend the country, they would not certify to the change in the policy.

There is an echo in this debate, which is a quote from prior debate: The President's move would seriously impair the morale of the Army at a time when our Armed Forces should be at their strongest and most efficient. Such an action is most unfortunate, the Senator declared.

The quote is taken from Senator Lister Hill in 1948. The issue was the racial integration of the Armed Forces in 1948. I think this is the same issue.

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Mr. ANDREWS. Reclaiming my time, I don't know precisely what the author said--he will speak--but I do know that Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have said that. Admiral Mullen has said he feels repeal is the right policy. The issue is when and how, which is what Mr. Murphy's amendment addresses.

I would at this time be happy to yield 2 minutes to my friend who is focused on the issue of departing servicemembers, when they separate from service, and their knowing their rights and opportunities, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Carson).

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