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Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COURTNEY. I move to strike the last word.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Connecticut is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Chair, I rise in support of the gentleman from Florida's amendment. And as a fellow member of the House Armed Services Committee, I just want to share at least some of the ad nauseam length of input that we have had at the Armed Services Committee over the last 2 or 3 years talking about this issue.

We have had the benefit of hearing from the warfighters, the heads of the various branches that are dealing with this program, whether it's the Marines, the Navy, the Air Force, and they have repeatedly, over the last 2 or 3 years, stated that there is no justification for this wasteful spending which, again, both the President and the Secretary of Defense have also supported.

On the Seapower Subcommittee, which I serve on, Admiral Roughead, the CNO, head of the Navy, talked about the disastrous operational impact that having two engines would have in terms of our aircraft carriers. As he stated: ``One can look at a carrier and see a very large ship, but when that ship is deployed, we have things packed in almost every nook and cranny in order to provide that reliability and responsiveness. So having to stock two different types of engines is just not practical for us.''

It would be totally unrealistic to have a situation where the F-35B and the F-35C, which are the planes which will land on our aircraft carriers, have to fly in with two separate engines that would require two separate systems of maintenance and repair. And the notion which was stated earlier by one of the prior speakers that they are somehow interchangeable--well, if we're going to have interchangeability, then we may as well just have one engine system which is, in fact, what we have today in terms of the F-18 Super Hornets which land on aircraft carriers every day of the year. It is one engine supplier which provides the engines for those Super Hornets, GE, and good for them. And as Admiral Roughead said, he really doesn't care which engine it is, but the Navy needs to have only one system in order for them to be operational on the 11 aircraft carriers that today make up a key component of our national defense.

One person on the committee sort of suggested the fact that, well, maybe a way to solve that problem would be to have GE aircraft carriers and Pratt & Whitney aircraft carriers which, again, kind of I think highlights the absurdity of the notion that you are going to have two separate engine systems on these vessels on which every square inch is precious.

Mr. Chair, we have heard a lot of talk about competition. I'm sure there is going to be lots of rebuttal about the fact that there was a competition which led into the selection of the Pratt & Whitney engine. But what I would just end with is that competition is one thing; redundancy and waste is another.

We do not have two of everything in terms of our procurement systems. We did not have two engines for Blackhawk helicopters. We did not have two engines for F-18s or our ships. We don't have two nuclear reactor systems for our submarines, for our aircraft carriers. We don't have two separate engines for our destroyers.

The fact of the matter is you have to make decisions sometimes in order to achieve efficiency, and that's where we are today with the F-35 program. The notion that we are going to add $3 billion to production costs by having a separate alternate engine and all of the rippling effects of operational headaches which Admiral Roughead eloquently described before the Armed Services Committee is just not something that our military can afford today.

We have reached a tipping point in terms of our military budgets. We have got to focus on effective, efficient use of resources to help the warfighter and to advance our national security. And having a bloated, wasteful system of an alternate engine, which is the way The Washington Post described this program, is not the way to achieve that goal.

I strongly support this amendment and urge my colleagues to pass this amendment for a cost-effective, efficient use of our resources for our national defense.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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