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Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. QUIGLEY. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would reduce research and development spending at the Department of Defense by 10 percent. First inclination, we all know research and development is a good thing, but not when it begets wasteful spending. The continuing resolution before us makes deep cuts in non-defense discretionary spending. If we are truly serious about reducing our long-term deficits, we must look at the whole picture--and that picture includes defense.

Non-defense discretionary comprises approximately 15 percent of Federal spending. Meanwhile, defense spending comprises 20 percent of Federal spending. We cannot ignore one-fifth of the budget. As Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said, ``Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.''

My amendment would cut a modest 10 percent from the Department of Defense's research and development budget. DOD's R&D spending has experienced more spending growth since 2001 than any other major DOD appropriation category. DOD's research, development, testing and evaluation budget has increased 63 percent over the last 10 years, rising from $49.2 billion in FY 2001 to $80.2 billion in FY 2010. This is 33 percent more than the Cold War peak in real terms, even though today we face no traditional adversary comparable to the Soviet Union. Further, in FY 2009, R&D spending exceeded China's entire defense budget, the world's second largest, by $10.5 billion.

Surely as we look for places to balance the budget and in light of the vast superiority of our R&D budget, we can afford to reduce spending by 10 percent.

A number of fiscal commissions and watchdog groups agree that DOD research and development should be cut and proposed a number of proposals to reduce this development. The Sustainable Defense Task Force, a panel of defense experts from across the political spectrum, recently recommended requiring DOD to set its priorities and reduce R&D spending by $5 billion per year over 10 years. Additionally, the Cato Institute and the Task Force for a Unified Security Budget agree research and development could be significantly improved without harming security in order to achieve savings.

The Fiscal Commission and the Bipartisan Policy Center have also put forward proposals to reduce research and development costs. The Fiscal Commission proposes reducing DOD's R&D budget by 10 percent, for a savings of $7 billion in 2015. They pointed out this reduction would leave DOD at a level above the peak of the Reagan years in real dollars.

The Fiscal Commission cites several ongoing projects that could be reduced or even canceled in order to reduce R&D costs. These programs include the Marine Corps version of the F-35, which has been put on a 2-year probation period by Secretary Gates for continued technical problems, cost overruns, and delays.

The Bipartisan Policy Center offers a similar plan, calling for reduced funding of R&D proportional to the reduction size of forces, or 18.5 percent. Reduction in R&D would be possible, argues the Bipartisan Policy Center, as we withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and reduce our forces abroad. Such a reduction in R&D will impose greater discipline in research investments while continuing to budget significantly more resources than any other country's R&D. A cut in our defense R&D is also enabled by new security threats we face.

Secretary Gates has called for a reorientation of our national security strategy, with a greater focus on counterinsurgency warfare rather than traditional warfare. This reorientation calls for investment in intelligence gathering, devices to sense improvised explosive devices, and investments in lower cost machines such as drones, and will allow us to move away from the more expensive development of major weapons systems.

We must reduce our deficit and we must reduce our spending, but in doing so we must put everything on the table and cut anywhere where waste exists.

Mr. Chairman, there is a universe of thought that less government is best and that government can do almost nothing right. That thought ends at the Department of Defense. There are those who believe they can do no wrong. They have the Department of Defense blinders on, which blind them from the fact that if we are going to make these cuts and we are going to face the very real threats that this debt and deficits will create for us, we have to cut across all lines.

I yield back.

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