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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. TURNER. I claim the time in opposition.

The Acting CHAIR (Ms. Foxx). The gentleman from Ohio is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. TURNER. The gentleman is correct that this is a time of deficits and concerns about spending, but he is not correct that this doesn't hurt our national security.

He also states that our troops in Europe are not needed, and that is absolutely not the case. Those troops that are there not only protect us and our European allies, but they also are essential to the operations that we're supporting around the globe, including the important operations in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

He claims this amendment will save money, but in fact, this will increase our costs as we look to how we serve our allies, how we initiate our ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how we support our men and women in uniform.

The essential problem with this amendment is that it's arbitrary. Our troop strengths are based on extensive studies. There are whole books written about how you look to assessing threats, how you look to our overall assets, how you support the capabilities that we have in supporting our national defense. These are just arbitrary numbers that have been picked as to our withdrawal from Europe.

But it goes further.

Besides having the great effect of reducing the reassurance of our allies in the region, this amendment goes further and sets troop limits from 2013 through 2016. It requires that 10,000 of our troops be reduced in end strength numbers a year, and it goes on to say that 5,400 of them are to come from the Army, that 4,000 a year are to come from the Air Force, 500 a year from the Navy, 100 from the Marine Corps. There certainly is not a decreasing threat in our national security; yet there will be decreasing troops, not just those who are in Europe. This means that we will have increased dwell time and an increased greater burden upon the troops who are serving.

As we look to these numbers again being arbitrary, you have to wonder: How was it determined that 5,400 would come from the Army and 4,000 would come from the Air Force and 500 from the Navy? This has no correlation not only to the threat but even to the assets and the capabilities that we need. I think everyone knows that our troops that we have in Europe serve our full national security and are not there for the reasons of defending Europe.

As the gentleman stated, the other thing that is important is that this is something knowable. I mean, you could pick up a Quadrennial Defense Review or threat assessments, from which our troop strengths are based, not these arbitrary numbers from this amendment which would restrict our ability to respond, greatly impact our national security and would certainly not save money.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. POLIS. I would like to inquire as to how much time remains on both sides.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Colorado has 1 minute remaining. The gentleman from Ohio has 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

Mr. POLIS. Madam Chair, these specific suggestions that are based on the Sustainable Defense Task Force may not be a book, but it is 30-pages' long, and, without objection, I would like to submit its ``Executive Summary'' for the Record.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman's request will be covered under general leave.

PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY

Mr. POLIS. Parliamentary inquiry, Madam Chair.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman will state his parliamentary inquiry.

Mr. POLIS. Would the Chair specify the definition of her last statement.

The Acting CHAIR. All Members were given authority to insert such material by an order of the House.

Executive Summary

DEBT, DEFICITS, AND DEFENSE: A WAY FORWARD
[Report of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, 11 June 2010]

At a time of growing concern over federal deficits, it is essential that all elements of the federal budget be subjected to careful scrutiny. The Pentagon budget should be no exception. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates noted in a recent speech, paraphrasing President Dwight D. Eisenhower, ``The United States should spend as much as necessary on national defense, but not one penny more.''

This report presents a series of options which, taken together, could save up to $960 billion between 2011 and 2020. The proposals cover the full range of Pentagon expenditures--procurement, research and development, personnel, operations and maintenance, and infrastructure. Some involve changes in our military posture and force structure; others are more limited in scope, focusing on outdated, wasteful, and ineffective systems that have long been the subject of criticism by congressional research agencies and others. Taken together or in part, they could make a significant contribution to any deficit reduction plan.

There is no doubt that defense expenditure has contributed significantly to our current fiscal burden. This is true even aside from war costs. Today, annual discretionary spending is $583 billion above the level set in 2001. Overall, the rise in defense spending accounts for almost 65% of this increase. Non-war defense spending is responsible for 37%. These portions are much greater than any other category of discretionary spending. The savings options that we have developed focus mostly on the ``base'' portion of the Pentagon budget, excluding expenditures slated to support overseas contingency operations. Those that would affect such operations are pegged explicitly to progress in concluding today's wars.

Our recommendations fall in 6 areas: Strategic forces; Conventional force structure; Procurement, research, and development; Personnel costs; Reform of DoD maintenance and supply systems; Command, support, and infrastructure expenditures.

In developing its options, the Task Force has used a set of criteria to identify savings that could be achieved without compromising the essential security of the United States. We have focused especially on:

Department of Defense programs that are based on unreliable or unproven technologies;

Missions that exhibit a poor cost-benefit payoff and capabilities that fail the test of cost-effectiveness or that possess a very limited utility;

Assets and capabilities that mismatch or substantially over-match current and emerging military challenges, and

Opportunities for providing needed capabilities and assets at lower cost via management reforms.

Table ES-1 (page vi) provides an overview of the savings options we propose. Not all the contributors endorse all the options, but all agree they offer genuine possibilities for resource savings and deserve serious consideration. They are described in more detail below.

The option set could be implemented in whole or part. As an integrated set, it would entail:

Reducing the US nuclear arsenal to 1000 warheads deployed on 160 Minuteman missiles and seven nuclear submarines,

Curtailing nuclear weapons research and the planned modernization of the nuclear weapons infrastructure;

Curtailing national missile defense efforts;

A reduction of approximately 200,000 military personnel, yielding a peacetime US military active-duty end-strength of approximately 1.3 million;

Capping routine peacetime US military presence in Europe at 35,000 and in Asia at 65,000, including afloat;

Reducing the size of the US Navy from its current strength of 287 battle force ships and 10 naval air wings to a future posture of 230 ships and 8 air wings;

Rolling back the number of US Army active-component brigade combat teams from the current 45 to between 39 and 41;

Retiring four of the 27 US Marine Corps infantry battalions along with a portion of the additional units that the Corps employs to constitute air-land task forces;

Retiring three US Air Force tactical fighter wings;

Ending or delaying procurement of a number of military systems--the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, MV-22 Osprey, KC-X Aerial Refueling Tanker, and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle--and fielding less expensive alternatives;

Reducing base budget spending on R&D by $5 billion annually;

Resetting the calculation of military compensation and reforming the provision of military health care;

Implementing a variety of measures aiming to achieve new efficiencies in DoD's supply and equipment maintenance systems; and

Setting a cost reduction imperative for command, support, and infrastructure expenditures.

SUSTAINABLE DEFENSE TASK FORCE OPTIONS

Strategic capabilities

Our options in this area would save nearly $195 billion during the next decade. The United States should act now to accelerate the drawdown of nuclear weapons to a level of 1,000 warheads deployed on seven Ohio-class submarines and 160 Minuteman missiles. This is more than enough to ensure deterrence. Shifting to a nuclear ``dyad'' of land- and sea-based missiles would provide an optimal balance between efficiency and flexibility.

Missile defense efforts should be curtailed to focus on those systems and those missions most likely to succeed and provide real protection for our troops in the field. And we should roll back nuclear weapons research and limit efforts to modernize the weapon infrastructure. This best accords with a reduced emphasis on nuclear weapons, the smaller arsenal, and the general trend of arms control efforts.

Conventional force structure

No other nation or likely combination of nations comes close to matching US conventional warfare capabilities. Our options in this area seek to match conventional force capabilities more closely with the actual requirements of defense and deterrence. These are the tasks most appropriate to the armed forces and most essential to the nation. Focusing on them helps ensure that our investments are cost-effective. Our options on conventional forces would save the United States almost $395 billion from 2011-2020.

Ground forces: We propose capping routine US military presence in Europe at 35,000 personnel and in Asia at 65,000 troops, and then reducing some force structure accordingly. We can rely on our incomparable capacities for rapid deployment to flexibly send more troops and assets to these regions if and when needed.

We also propose rolling back the recent growth in the Army and Marine Corps as progress in winding-down our Iraq and Afghanistan commitments allows. This option views future conduct of protracted, large-scale counterinsurgency campaigns by the United States as strategically unwise and largely avoidable. Certainly, there are better, more cost-effective ways to fight terrorism.

Air forces: The experience of the United States in recent conventional wars, including the first two months of the Iraq conflict, show that we can safely reduce our tactical air power--both Air Force and Navy. The capacity of the US military to deliver weapons by plane or missile substantially overmatches existing and emerging threats. And the gap continues to grow. Also, entirely new capabilities, notably remotely piloted vehicles, are joining our air fleets in growing numbers. This option envisions a future air
attack capability comprising between 1,600 and 1,750 Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps fighter-attack aircraft and bombers in combat squadrons. Remotely-piloted vehicles would be additional.

Sea power: We can reduce the size of our Navy from the current fleet of 287 battle force ships to 230, although this will require using our naval power differently. Included in this fleet would be nine aircraft carriers. This option would keep fewer of our war ships permanently ``on station,'' partly by having them operate in smaller groups. It would put greater emphasis on surging naval power as needed. The firepower of our naval assets has grown dramatically during the past 20 years. In this light, the smaller fleet that we propose can meet America's warfighting needs. The reduction in fleet size also reflects a smaller contingent of nuclear ballistic missile submarines, as proposed in the section on strategic capabilities.

Procurement

Regarding procurement, our options for saving $88.7 billion from 2011-2020 focus mostly on canceling or reducing systems with long histories of trouble and cost growth, such as the MV-22 Osprey and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. These embody all that is wrong with the acquisition process. We also include the option of canceling the F-35 Lightning and replacing it, for the time being, with advanced versions of aircraft already in service. Development of the F-35 is rapidly going the way of the F-22 Raptor: late, over cost, and less capable than promised. However, even if this aircraft performed according to specifications, it would not be needed in order for us to defeat current and emerging challengers. America's air forces are today the best in the world by a wide margin--not principally due to our technology, but instead due to the combination of technology, skill, training, morale, support, and coordination.

Research and development

Research and development has experienced more spending growth since 2001 than any other major DoD appropriation category. Today it stands at $80 billion annually--33% above the Cold War peak in real terms. And yet, today, we face no competitor in military technology comparable to the Soviet Union. We seem increasingly in a race with ourselves. The results have been uneven in terms of producing affordable capabilities that serve the needs of war fighters, however. Individual efforts by the armed services and defense agencies are too often disjointed and seemingly at odds with each other. In our view, DoD needs to exercise more discipline in this area and Congress needs to exercise more oversight. Our modest proposal is that DoD set clearer priorities and seek $5 billion in savings per year or $50 billion during the coming decade.

Command, support, and infrastructure

We propose that DoD seek more than $100 billion in savings over the next decade in the areas of command, infrastructure, maintenance, supply, and other forms of support. The Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office have both outlined a variety of measures to achieve savings in these areas by means of streamlining, consolidation, and privatization. Additionally, the reductions we have proposed in force structure and procurement will reduce the demand on support services and infrastructure (albeit not proportionately). The goal we have set for savings in these areas is only 15% as much as what we propose for force structure and procurement. This much should be easily in DoD's reach.

Personnel costs

Cost growth in military compensation and health care is a serious and increasing concern of military planners and leaders. Over the past decade personnel costs rose by more than 50% in real terms, while health care costs rose 100%. Secretary of Defense Gates recently described the problem as ``eating the Defense Department alive.''

The Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation has proposed that we recalibrate how military pay raises are set and that we increase health care fees and co-pays for some former military personnel between the ages of 38 and 65. The estimate for potential savings from such measures is $120 billion over the decade, assuming gradual implementation as the wars wind-down. In our opinion, however, these options involve more than matters of simple economics. They can only go forward as part of a broader program of change.

We are a nation at war and these measures affect those who are making the greatest sacrifice. We have a responsibility to them and, thus, great care is due. If the rise in personnel costs has been extraordinary, so have been the demands placed on our military personnel. It is not simply war that bears down on them, but also the way we have conducted it. Some force utilization policies have been unwise and some personnel policies have been both unwise and unfair.

If cost growth in this area is to be addressed, it must be addressed as part of a compact that relieves our military personnel of the undue burdens of routine ``stop loss'' orders and long, repeated war rotations. Compensation levels for those fighting overseas must be protected and health care for the injured improved. Finally, we must accept that if we are to deploy 175,000 active-duty troops to war (as we do today), then we cannot also maintain another 142,000 troops overseas doing other jobs. Fiscal realities and proper treatment of our military personnel demand that we make choices.

SYSTEMIC CHANGE

The savings options we have outlined promise to provide immediate fiscal relief. They would help to bring the goal of meaningful deficit reduction within reach.

Nonetheless, they remain ad hoc steps. For the longer term, putting America's defense establishment on a more sustainable path depends on our willingness to:

Rethink our national security commitments and goals to ensure that they focus clearly on what concerns us the most and what we most need in the realm of security;

Reset our national security strategy so that it reflects a cost-effective balance among the security instruments at our disposal and also uses those instruments in cost-effective ways; and

Reform our system of producing defense assets so that it is more likely to provide what we truly need at an affordable cost.

Reform efforts

With regard to the third of these systemic goals, there is today renewed interest in reforming the ways we produce and sustain military power. However, those efforts have not yet gone far enough to assuredly deliver the type and degree of change needed. Among the tasks ahead, several imperatives stand out:

Audit the Pentagon: Today, DoD is one of only a few federal agencies that cannot pass the test of an independent auditor. This means that DoD cannot accurately track its assets--a condition that not only opens the door to waste and fraud, but also makes it difficult to gauge progress in other areas of reform, including acquisition. DoD has been under obligation to get its books in order for 20 years, but has enjoyed the benefit of special dispensations and rolling deadlines: Most recently, a new deadline of September 2017 for audit readiness. Given current and emerging fiscal pressures, this is too generous. Moreover, strong incentives for compliance are lacking.

Determine mission costs: Beyond accurately accounting for its assets, the Pentagon needs to provide cost estimates for its core missions and activities, as suggested in 2001 by the Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security. Lawmakers might ask, How much of the defense dollar do we presently invest in counterterrorism, counterproliferation, the defense of Europe, or nuclear deterrence? At present, no one really knows. And until we do know, it will be difficult to make fully rational decisions about the allocation of defense resources.

Strengthen acquisition reform: The finding by the Government Accountability Office that major weapons programs are suffering $300 billion in cost overruns has sparked renewed interest in acquisition reform. Defense Secretary Gates and the Obama administration have promised to vigorously pursue such reforms. Congress has responded with the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009. However, the Act needs to be strengthened if it is to substantially deliver on its promise. It creates the position of Director of Independent Cost Assessment, but there needs to be a mechanism for reconciling differences between the Director's estimates and those of the Pentagon. With regard to competition requirements, it gives DoD too easy recourse to invoking waivers. The bar must be set higher. And there needs to be a simple prohibition on giving an outside contractor responsibility for evaluating the work or managing the contract of any entity with which that contractor is linked.

OTHER OPTION SETS

We include in our report two other sets of savings options that reflect different perspectives. Table ES-2 summarizes options developed in 2009 by the Task Force for a Unified Security Budget. These are part of its ongoing efforts to rebalance our security investments, which presently are weighted too heavily to the military side.

Table ES-3 presents a set of options developed by scholars of the Cato Institute. It suggests the budget implications of a shift in US global strategy to a stance of ``Offshore Balancing'' or what the authors call a ``strategy of restraint.''

The reductions in military spending summarized in Table ES-3 reflect a security strategy that aims to bring force from the sea to defeat and deter enemies, rather than keeping troops ashore in semi-permanent presence missions or in long-term policing roles.

Mr. POLIS. Madam Chair, even Donald Rumsfeld believes it is time to change this policy.

In his recent book, he wrote, ``Of the quarter million troops deployed abroad in 2001, more than 100,000 were in Europe, the vast majority stationed in Germany ..... Those deployments were obviously not taking into account the 21st century reality that Germany was now one of the wealthier nations in Europe ..... I believed our troops had to do more than serve as symbols of security blankets for wealthy allied nations.''

Madam Chair, experts across the ideological spectrum agree that the time is right for these smart cuts that will improve our national security, allow us to fulfill all our obligations to NATO, as well as include the 10,000 to 15,000 troops that experts say are necessary to fully support operations at our current levels in the Middle East and Africa.

Again, I express my own personal desire that less is needed in that regard, and it seems to be our direction; but even at those current levels, we would fully support those operations. This is a smart cut, one of the easier ones we could go to. It improves our national security, and I urge a ``yes'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. TURNER. Madam Chair, I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Thornberry).

Mr. THORNBERRY. Madam Chair, it is true that the Department of Defense ought to always be examining where we have troops deployed around the world, and that is appropriate for them. It is not appropriate, however, for us to arbitrarily tell them that they will have 30,000 troops in Europe, X number of troops in Asia and so forth.

I think that it is important to emphasize that among the important functions that our troops in Europe perform are joint training--building partnership with our European partnerships. Just a few weeks ago, I was at the NATO SOF Training facility where European allies train with our Special Operations Forces before they have to actually be engaged in the battlefield in Afghanistan and elsewhere. That sort of joint training is made possible because our troops are there.

As the gentleman from Ohio mentioned, direct support of our deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya incredibly simplifies, or makes easier, our deployments for logistics and other transportation needs when we are able to base things in Europe and go from there rather than having to come all the way from the United States.

Madam Chair, I think we need to remind ourselves that, since 1945, when the U.S. has had substantial troop numbers in Europe, there has not been another general European war. Yet millions upon millions of people died in previous years because of those general European wars.

The other key point is that this amendment decreases end strength over a period of 5 years. That has real consequences for real soldiers and marines and sailors and airmen all across the world. As the gentleman mentioned, it means they are going to have to spend more time in deployments.

Mr. TURNER. Madam Chair, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Coffman).

Mr. COFFMAN of Colorado. I thank the gentleman from Ohio for yielding.

I also thank the gentleman from Colorado for raising this issue and particularly for questioning our military forward-basing in Europe. I think it's certainly time to do that. I'm not sure about the 30,000 number, but I question whether our NATO allies are dedicating the appropriate percentage, in terms of their budgets, towards maintaining defense and not becoming far too reliant upon the United States.

Where I differ in the amendment is with this arbitrary reduction of 10,000 a year for 5 years. The Secretary of Defense, I think, has thoughtfully put forward a plan that would, based on conditions, reduce the United States Army's end strength by 27,000 in FY 2015-2016; and the United States Marine Corps is somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000, in that same fiscal year, based on conditions. So I certainly oppose the amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Ohio has 1 minute remaining.

Mr. TURNER. Madam Chair, I would like to point out again that these are arbitrary numbers. Our troops in Europe pose an important asset for all of our operations in the protection of national security, including, as has been stated, training troops that go into Afghanistan and Iraq.

This amendment would not save money. It would, in fact, increase our overall cost. It also includes an arbitrary reduction in our overall end strength that would have a negative impact on our national security.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Mr. POLIS. Madam Chair, I demand a recorded vote.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Colorado will be postponed.

AMENDMENT NO. 61 OFFERED BY MR. CONYERS

The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 61 printed in House Report 112-88.

Mr. CONYERS. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

At the end of title XII, add the following new section:

SEC. 12__. PROHIBITION ON UNITED STATES GROUND COMBAT PRESENCE IN LIBYA.

No funds appropriated pursuant to an authorization of appropriations in this Act may be obligated or expended for the purpose of--

(1) deploying members of the United States Armed Forces on to the ground of Libya for the purposes of engaging in ground combat operations, unless the purpose of such deployment is limited solely to rescuing members of the United States Armed Forces from imminent danger;

(2) awarding a contract to a private security contractor to conduct any activity on the ground of Libya; or

(3) otherwise establishing or maintaining any presence of members of the United States Armed Forces or private security contractors on the ground of Libya, unless the purpose of such presence is limited solely to rescuing members of the United States Armed Forces from imminent danger.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 276, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Michigan.

Mr. CONYERS. Madam Chair, I rise in support of my amendment, which would prevent funds authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act from being used to fund any type of ground combat operations in Libyan territory. My amendment would simply codify the policy endorsed by our President and the international community, and thereby ensure that our involvement in Libya remains limited in scope. I am proud to report that this amendment enjoys the support of 16 bipartisan cosponsors.

My proposal would prevent funds from being used to deploy, establish, or maintain a presence of members of the armed services or private security contractors on the ground in Libya. It also contains an exception that would allow for the rescue of members of the Armed Forces participating in the NATO no-fly zone operation.

I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the distinguished gentlelady from California (Ms. Lee).

Ms. LEE. Madam Chairman, let me thank the gentleman for yielding and for his leadership. This is such an important amendment, such an important debate. No one in this House would ever defend the deplorable actions of Colonel Qadhafi and the decades he has spent repressing the Libyan people. But no one should fail to recognize that the actions we have taken in Libya since March 19 amount to a war. Missile strikes, naval attacks, bombing of strategic military targets, all of these actions would be a declaration of war if a foreign country launched such attacks on our soil.

Congress should have debated this prior to any military actions in Libya. While some of us can disagree as to whether or not we should be involved in a military action in Libya, we can all agree that we should prevent mission creep or any military expansion to include combat troops on the ground in Libya.

This simple amendment does exactly that by codifying the President's commitment, as Mr. Conyers just said, to not put troops on the ground in Libya. So I urge a strong ``yes'' vote on this amendment. I thank the gentleman for his leadership.

Mr. WITTMAN. Madam Chairman, although I am not opposed to the amendment, I request time in opposition.

The Acting CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Virginia is recognized for 5 minutes.

There was no objection.

Mr. WITTMAN. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

We are certainly in agreement with the intention of this amendment, by requiring appropriations not be authorized for operations on the ground there in Libya. We believe that preventing these funds purposely puts in place Congress as a decision-maker. We believe that that is critical in this situation, and we believe that it's very appropriate that Congress assume its role in decision-making involving U.S. conflict in Libya.

I think that we all know that decisions are difficult with these sorts of conflicts and that Congress does have a very specific role in this effort. So we want to make sure that that's preserved. Certainly this amendment does that. So we are in agreement with the amendment.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. CONYERS. Madam Chairman, how much time have I remaining?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Michigan has 2 1/4 minutes remaining.

Mr. CONYERS. I yield as much time as she may consume to the gentlelady from California, the head of the Progressive Caucus for so many years, Ms. Lynn Woolsey.

Ms. WOOLSEY. I thank the gentleman from Michigan for yielding time to me.

Madam Chair, more than 2 months after the military campaign in Libya began, it's time to start defining its parameters and its limitations. Most importantly, we must provide assurance that this will not mushroom into a full blown ground war and military occupation. That's why I am proud to cosponsor the amendment offered by my friend from Michigan.

Are two wars not enough? We can't keep doing this. Our military is at a breaking point. The American people's patience is wearing thin. They know the costs in life and tender coming from these wars that we have in Iraq and in Afghanistan; and now what we're doing in Libya comes from important domestic programs right here at home. They don't want to replay Iraq and Afghanistan in Libya.

In fact, we all know that it's time to bring our troops home out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and it is time to engage in smart security for diplomacy, where human and economic assistance are used instead of bombs and weapons, costing us pennies on the dollar. No more wars, no boots on the ground in Libya, and as much as we can do to take care of our business here at home.

Mr. CONYERS. I thank the gentlelady. The time has come for Congress to once again exercise its constitutional authority to place boundaries on the use of our military forces overseas and clearly state that this conflict in Libya will not escalate into an expensive occupation that could strain our resources and harm our national security interests.

I beg the Members of this House to give favorable consideration to our amendment.

Mr. WITTMAN. Madam Chairman, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the ayes appeared to have it.

Mr. CONYERS. Madam Chair, I demand a recorded vote.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Michigan will be postponed.

AMENDMENT NO. 62 OFFERED BY MR. FLAKE

The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 62 printed in House Report 112-88.

Mr. FLAKE. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

At the end of section 1433, relating to the Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund, add the following new subsection:

(h) Elimination of Remaining Funds.--The amount otherwise authorized to be appropriated for the Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund for fiscal year 2012, as specified in the funding table in section 4501, is reduced by $348,256,000, which represents the amount of funds not needed to carry out projects identified in H.R. 1540 of the 112th Congress, as reported by the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 276, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Flake) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona.

Mr. FLAKE. This amendment would simply eliminate funding for the Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund, which amounts to more than $348 million. The fund was created in this bill in order to ensure that additional funding remain available for the Secretary of Defense to transfer, if he needed to, to other accounts to ``mitigate unfunded requirements'' according to the committee report. The report also contains a list of seven priorities that the Secretary can transfer these funds in support of.

I am not sure about this concept myself, particularly in this budget climate, of providing the Pentagon an authorization that essentially amounts to a blank check for a couple of hundred million dollars. It's my understanding that the committee identified $1 billion in savings in the underlying bill and created the fund using these savings. It's also my understanding, however, that during the full committee markup more than $650 million of that money was moved out of this fund by members of the committee seeking to increase funding for their own priorities in the bill.
I understand that Members want to retain the ability to move money around to areas they feel are underfunded and that should receive additional funding. However, if the committee was able to identify $1 billion in savings, I think it ought to put that savings toward decreasing the underlying, or, I am sorry, the cost of the underlying bill. We have to make tough choices all around in this budget, and Americans across the country are making tough choices with their budget.

But to identify a billion dollars in savings, then to move it into a new fund and then allow Members to designate their own priorities and take 650, I am just not sure what this is all about.

There are some concerns out there, there was a news article a couple of days ago that said that some people think this is some kind of slush fund designed to provide Members with a pot of money from which they can transfer money to fund their own projects. This would be similar to the earmarking culture that we have had around here, a culture that hopefully has ended and that we can move beyond. So I hope this is not what we are seeing here.

I have two amendments that will be considered later, I believe in the en bloc portion, that will seek for more transparency moving ahead to see how these funds are actually used and awarded.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. McKEON. Madam Chair, I rise in strong opposition to Mr. Flake's amendment.

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

Mr. McKEON. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The gentleman from Arizona's amendment would eliminate resources for the Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund. I commend Mr. Flake for taking a serious issue, namely, deficit reduction. However, his amendment could do serious harm to our national security. I believe the Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund can be an important tool for the Defense Department to help keep America safe.

We set this fund up at the start of the process so that we wouldn't be tied to the President's budget request so that we could, the members of the committee that have the expertise, move the funding around to more important items. Resources from this fund will be used to power programs vital to our homeland defense such as Navy shipbuilding, strike aircraft, and ballistic missile defense, systems that the members of the Armed Services Committee agreed were not sufficiently funded by the President's budget. As you know, there are no earmarks in this bill.

We have worked very hard to move away from the system that you worked so hard to eliminate, and we have done a great job on that. But we do not feel bound by the President's request that we will just be a rubberstamp committee to just do what he expects us to do.

Madam Chair, I must repeat my concerns about stripping money from our troops and sending it back to the Treasury. I know how important deficit reduction is. We do need to focus on that, but we have stressed very strongly, we will look at everything that the Pentagon spends, we will go through it with a fine-tooth comb, but the money we save we know we will put to areas that the Quadrennial Defense Review and our independent panel showed that we need just to bring us up to what our defense should have been 20 years ago.

I strongly oppose any amendment that would reduce the defense top line. And while I support Mr. Flake, as we all endeavor to get our spending under control, I must oppose this amendment, as it would strip our fighting force of the tools they need to get the job done and to keep America safe.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. FLAKE. May I inquire as to how much time remains?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Arizona has 2 1/2 minutes remaining.

Mr. FLAKE. I appreciate the gentleman's efforts to get rid of earmarks. I do have some concern about this. The guidance from the HASC, from the committee, says that the request may not direct funds to, or any funds with or to, any entity or locality.

It's been the practice in the past that when Members get their earmarks in a bill, they will take a victory lap, put out a press release. I have seen one of these already, and it says funding for a nonprofit charitable foundation, Technology Ventures Corporation, TVC, to help expand innovation in New Mexico's emerging satellite industry. This names both an entity and a locality. And this is a Member who got a particular request.

Mr. McKEON. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. FLAKE. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. McKEON. This is on page 692, ``Merit-Based or Competitive Decisions. A decision to commit, obligate, or expend funds referred to in the second sentence of subsection (a) with or to a specific entity shall

``(1) be based on merit-based selection procedures in accordance with the requirements of'' the company's sections and

``(2) comply with other applicable provisions of law.''

And if we find any Member pressuring the Department of Defense to use any funds other than to comply with competitive merit-based solutions, we will go after them. We have a strong oversight committee that will do this.

Mr. FLAKE. I appreciate the Member's commitment on that, and I appreciate also--I believe they are accepting the amendments that I have offered later, which would set up a process whereby we can see how these funds were actually disposed of, and that will help a great deal. I appreciate the chairman working on that.

I would just say, in closing, this amendment specifically is to save the money that is still left in that account. If the concern is not to give the President the ability to direct all of these funds or the Secretary of Defense, then this accomplishes it. There is $350 million left in this account. Let's apply that to pay down the debt and deficit.

That's what this amendment actually does. It takes the remaining money that has not been designated in that fund and applies it to deficit reduction. So that's what this amendment does, and I would appreciate support for it.

I thank the chairman for his comments, and I thank the chairman for his commitment to get away from this earmark culture.

I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. McKEON. I yield 1 minute to my friend and colleague, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Forbes).

Mr. FORBES. Madam Chairman, I am always reluctant to oppose my good friend from Arizona, even when he is wrong, and he is dead wrong tonight.

As you heard him mention, there was a billion dollar savings. If that billion dollars hadn't been there, he would have been telling us all, can't you find $100 million, can't you find $200 million? But they find $1 billion, and no good deed goes unpunished.

And, basically, Madam Chairman, the purpose of this fund is to make sure we are doing the tough choices. And he is right; these Members look every day at the priorities we need for the Department of Defense.

Let me just tell you one of those, shipbuilding. You and I today are living in a world for the first time where the Chinese have more ships in their Navy than we have in our Navy. The independent panel says we need 346 ships in our fleet, the Navy says 313, but their plan doesn't even get us there.

And so I am proud of the fact that we come together and say let's find savings in one area so we can put them in priorities such as shipbuilding. We ought not to cut these funds. It will be a disincentive for the Department of Defense to find those savings in the future.

Mr. McKEON. Madam Chairman, may I ask how much time remains?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from California has 2 minutes remaining.

Mr. McKEON. I yield 1 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Akin).

Mr. AKIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have to say that I understand the importance of trying to control spending in this government, and I am very much thankful to the gentleman from Arizona to be wanting to do that.

The concern that we have is that when you take a look at where we are in terms of our military right now, we have some very big problems. Just standing back away from it and looking at it for a little bit, if you say, how many troops do we have, how many ships do we have, how many aircraft do we have, and you compare where we are today with where we were 20 years ago, in 1990, we have half of what we had in 1990.

So we have reduced our military in half. We have the same number of ships today as what we had in 1916.

Now, one of the reasons for paying attention to earmarks was so that we would pay more attention to doing a good job of oversight. This committee has really worked hard at oversight. We have identified areas where we think the Pentagon was wrong, where the President was wrong, and we have taken that money out. Now we are going to be punished for taking it out by having it taken away.

The point of the matter is we are redirecting the money, but we are allowing a certain amount of flexibility. The places where this money has got to be spent are, first, ballistic and cruise missile defense. This is a very, very big deal for the Navy. The Chinese have very high-speed cruise missiles. We have to be able to defend against them.

Navy shipbuilding, we have already talked about that. We have the same number of ships as we had in 1916.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

The gentleman from California has 30 seconds remaining.

Mr. McKEON. In the time I've been in Congress, as the gentleman said, our military has basically been cut in half, and yet we are fighting two wars and half of a third. And Ronald Reagan said that during his lifetime he never saw us get into a war that we were overprepared for. We cut back after every war. This is the first time I have seen us trying to cut back during wartime.

I ask that we defeat the gentleman's amendment. As well intended as it is, we need the money for the defense of this Nation.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Flake).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Mr. FLAKE. Madam Chair, I demand a recorded vote.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Arizona will be postponed.

AMENDMENT NO. 63 OFFERED BY MR. ELLISON

The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 63 printed in House Report 112-88.

Mr. ELLISON. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Page 616, strike line 18 and all that follows through line 13 on page 617.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 276, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Ellison) and a

Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Minnesota.

Mr. ELLISON. Madam Chair, I rise to offer an amendment that will cut $150 million in unnecessary defense funding.

Congress must reassess our budgetary priorities. We should not be in the business of needlessly increasing defense spending while simultaneously cutting spending for critical services that Americans depend upon. Without my amendment, Congress will needlessly approve $150 million for the LHA 7 amphibious warship program. Now, let me be clear. I'm not against such a program in its own right, but I am against authorizing this funding for FY12 because the Government Accountability Office and the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower said we shouldn't do it. And they have very good reasons for coming to that conclusion.

First of all, according to the Government Accountability Office report, which I have in my hand and I intend to submit into the Record, these funds won't even be used in fiscal year 2012. The report states that contractor delays and labor shortages ``will likely have implications on the ability of the shipbuilder to start construction of LHA 7 as currently planned.''

If we do not authorize these funds, our national security will not be harmed. The GAO reports that FY11 funds already appropriated will be sufficient to cover the costs of the program and expenses for LHA 7 in FY12. As the report makes clear, and I quote again, Madam Chair, ``most of the construction costs for LHA 7 will not be incurred until fiscal year 2013.''

Given the GAO's recommendation, the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower did the right thing. They cut funding for the LHA 7. However, that funding was reinstated in the full committee. Given that the funds will not even be able to be used in FY12 due to contractor delays, why was $150 million reinstated in the full committee? Well, I can tell you that a Republican gentleman from Mississippi sits on the Armed Services Committee, and he represents a district on the coast with a very large shipbuilder in it.

Let's review momentarily. At a time when Congress is cutting critical heating assistance programs, education, and health care, why should it authorize defense spending for work that military contractors aren't even prepared to do?

Without my amendment, Congress is set to increase funding for the LHA 7 warship at a time when we are slashing critical domestic spending programs that Americans count on.

This is a commonsense amendment, Madam Chair, and it follows that the GAO and the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower said we should do. We should cut $150 million for the LHA 7 warship program. I'll leave it to you and your imagination as to why the funding was reinstated at the full committee.

I urge my colleagues to reassess our budgetary priorities and authorize funds for when they can actually be used. Spending should not be authorized prematurely, especially when Congress is cutting other critical programs.

LHA Replacement, Shipbuilding and Conversion (SCN), Fiscal Year 2012--Line 3041

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

The LHA program will provide the functional replacement for the LHA 1 Class ships which are reaching the end of their extended service lives. The program is to ensure that the amphibious fleet remains capable of Expeditionary Warfare well into the 21st century and provide for an affordable and sustainable amphibious ship development program. LHA 6, the lead ship, was authorized in fiscal year 2007. Fabrication of LHA 6 started in January 2008 and it is currently scheduled for delivery in October 2013. The Navy requested funding for the first follow-on ship, LHA 7, in its fiscal year 2011 budget request and requested an additional $2018.7 million in fiscal year 2012 to fully fund the ship. The Navy awarded an advance procurement contract for LHA 7 in June 2010, and planned to award the construction contract in November 2010.

[Dollars in millions] Fiscal year
2010 2011 2012
Funding/Request $169.5 $942.8 $2,018.7
Potential Reduction $2,018.7
Source for Funding/Request: Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Estimates for Shipbuilding and Conversion programs (P-1); Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, Pub. L. No. 112-10 .

REASON FOR REDUCTION

The Navy's fiscal year 2012 shipbuilding and conversion budget request for LHA 7 could be reduced by $2018.7 million because the funds are premature to program needs. The Navy expected to award a contract for construction of LHA 7 in November 2010--at the start of fiscal year 2011--but the contract award has been delayed and is unlikely to occur until fiscal year 2012. While the Navy currently plans to begin construction of LHA 7 in May 2012, it is likely that construction will be delayed. Ongoing shipyard labor shortages have resulted in schedule delays on LHA 6 and will likely have implications on the ability of the shipbuilder to start construction of LHA 7 as currently planned. Given the delay in contract award and the likelihood that the start of construction may slip, the program will not need the majority of funding until fiscal year 2013. Fiscal year 2011 funding will be available in fiscal year 2012 to ensure that the shipbuilder can purchase materials necessary to meet its build schedule--activities originally scheduled to take place in fiscal year 2011. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 authorized the Navy to split funding for LHA 7 construction over fiscal years 2011 and 2012. Should Congress choose to take the suggested action, LHA may need multiyear contracting authority that includes fiscal year 2013.

The Navy anticipated awarding a contract for LHA 7 construction in November 2010--at the start of fiscal year 2011. To date, the Navy has not yet awarded a contract--a delay of at least rive months. According to the Navy, it received the shipbuilder's proposal in April 2011. The program office reported that they would like to award the contract by the end of fiscal year 2011--5 months or less after receiving the shipbuilder's proposal--but acknowledged that they would most likely award a contract in fiscal year 2012. By comparison, the construction contract for LHA 6 was not awarded until over 14 months after receiving the contractor's proposal. Program officials believe that the construction contract for LHA 7 will take less time to negotiate than the lead ship. However, even if the Navy reduced the time to award to 7 months, half the time required to negotiate the LHA 6 contract, the award would still occur in November 2011--in fiscal year 2012 and a full year later than planned.

Further, it is likely that the start of construction for LHA 7 will be delayed past its current estimated date of May 2012 due to ongoing shipyard labor shortages. Delivery of LHA 6 has been delayed twice primarily as a result of labor issues. The most recent delay, announced in the fiscal year 2012 budget, pushed delivery of the ship from April to October 2013. Program officials reported that the shipyard is currently drawing down labor, but will have to increase labor resources to meet the increased shipyard demand starting in fiscal year 2013. However, the shipbuilder may have difficulty effectively increasing labor resources to meet the needs of Navy programs. In addition to the LHA class, construction of LPD 26 and LPD 27 is expected to begin in late 2011 and 2012. The program office acknowledged that the construction start date for LHA 7 may slip past its current estimate, and some Navy estimates put construction start in early 2013. The actual construction start date will be negotiated as part of the LHA contract award.

Since activities originally planned to take place in 2011 will most likely occur in 2012, 2011 funding should be sufficient for the program through 2012.

PROGRAM OFFICE COMMENTS

The Navy indicated that it strongly disagrees with GAO's assessment of the LHA(R) program and the proposed reduction of fiscal year 2012 funding. The Navy believes it can award the contract by the end of this fiscal year, in August or September 2011. According to the Navy, construction will start as currently planned in May 2012, as it has worked with the contractor to mitigate construction schedule risk by using the advance procurement funds to buy long lead time materials. According to the Navy, a reduction to fiscal year 2012 funding would impact the program's ability to procure required Contractor Furnished Equipment, disrupt the ship's engineering and production schedule and cause significant disruption in the industrial base. The Navy believes there is significant risk that fiscal year 2011 funds would not cover required expenditures if the second increment of funds were not appropriated until fiscal year 2013. According to the Navy, failure to procure government furnished equipment systems as planned will negatively affect the unit cost of these systems for LHA 7 and other platforms. The Navy also states that the entire shipbuilding plan for fiscal year 2013 and later years would be impacted by a delay of LHA 7 funding.

GAO RESPONSE

Although the Navy believes it can award a construction contract for LHA 7 within four to five months, past experiences negotiating contracts with the shipbuilder have taken considerably longer. As we stated previously, the LHA 6 contract was awarded 14 months after the Navy received the initial proposal from the shipbuilder. While the Navy indicates that it has mitigated construction schedule risk by procuring long lead time materials, there is still significant risk of construction delays associated with ongoing
labor shortages and a projected increase in shipyard demand starting in fiscal year 2013 due to construction on multiple ship programs. The shipbuilder has been unable to effectively manage labor resources on LHA 6. Ongoing labor shortages increase the risk that the shipbuilder will remain unable to meet increased shipyard demand in fiscal year 2013, which increases the likelihood that construction start of LHA 7 will also be delayed.

In its comments, the Navy indicated concerns about having enough funding to acquire equipment and materials for LHA 7. However, program officials previously reported to GAO that fiscal year 2011 funding will cover materials and that the program was waiting for the construction contract award before placing some orders for materials. The program has already received $169.5 million in advance procurement money to acquire long lead time materials, and received $942.8 million in fiscal year 2011.

The program can use this money to purchase materials as planned. Most of the construction costs for LHA 7 will not be incurred until fiscal year 2013. Accordingly, the fiscal year 2012 budget request could be reduced by $2018.7 million.

At this time, I would yield 1 minute to the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, Mr. Adam Smith.

Mr. SMITH of Washington. Madam Chair, I support the gentleman's amendment. I think it's really important to understand what's going on here. The gentleman is absolutely correct. The original purpose for this money, it was $200 million, it was determined to no longer be valid for all the reasons that were stated. They couldn't spend the money. But we had $200 million floating around, and they hate to give back $200 million in the Defense Committee, so they grabbed $150 million of it and simply designated it, broadly speaking, to shipbuilding. We do this a lot. Mr. Flake spoke about this in the other amendment. And I understand there are Members who are concerned about the top line within the defense budget and holding it.

I think it's important where we spend the money. We have to have a reason to spend it. We just have to say, well, there's $150 million. We would kind of like to have it because who knows? We might need it at some point.

We can't afford that in our current deficit environment, to simply set aside $150 million. I know we're going to talk about shipbuilding. I heard about it a little bit before. Yes, we have fewer ships than we had in 1916. I would submit that our Navy today is vastly more capable than our Navy back in 1916 because our sheer numbers of ships is not the only factor that matters. It kind of matters what their capabilities are.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. ELLISON. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.

Mr. SMITH of Washington. Throughout the bill--and we have an amendment coming up after this that is the same sort of thing. There is a lot of money in the defense budget that gets appropriated, and then for whatever reason we find out we can't actually build what it was intended for, and then we just hold on to the money because we might use it later. That is not an efficient way to spend money.

And I'm sorry. The deficit does matter to our national security. As has been quoted earlier, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that our deficit, in fact, is the number one threat to our national security. So we have to save money where we can. Clearly, this is a place where we can save money.

I urge support for the gentleman's amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from Minnesota has expired.

Mr. PALAZZO. Madam Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

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

Mr. PALAZZO. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Chair, I rise in opposition to the gentleman from Minnesota's amendment. Put simply, the gentleman's amendment would further delay the funding of a ship that our Navy and Marine Corps wants and needs.

LHA 7 is a part of the next generation of large deck amphibious assault ships, just similar to the USS Kearsarge, which just returned after an 8 1/2 -month-long deployment to where they participated in strikes in Libya and humanitarian assistance and other missions. This America class amphibious assault ship will be serving our country and providing a vital mission capability for years to come.

The President's very own 2012 budget request included $2 billion for the second year of incremental funding for LHA 7. Previous Congresses have supported this ship and her procurement, and further delays to this funding are opposed by this administration, the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the House Armed Services Committee.

My colleague mentioned, by the way, the GAO report. The Navy strongly disagrees with the GAO report that the gentleman has pointed to. The Navy has the shipbuilder's proposal in hand and at this point is working to complete negotiations to get this ship under contract this year, which may happen as soon as August.

The Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps have all endorsed a minimum naval fleet of 313 ships, of which 33 of those ships are going to be amphibious in nature. If the gentleman's amendment were to become law, the contract for this amphibious ship could be delayed. The ship's delivery to the fleet would be delayed, and the overall cost of the ship would go up.

It seems to me, as a Member of Congress, that we need to support programs and policies that enable our men and women in uniform to get the best possible equipment at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. The gentleman's amendment does just the opposite.

This amendment also jeopardizes American jobs. Nearly 3,500 shipbuilders depend on the ship for work. Cuts to this ship's funding, delays in contracting, and political gamesmanship put these jobs at risk.

Furthermore, the gentleman's amendment provides absolutely no cost savings. It just forces the Navy to budget more for the ship next year, and overall it increases the cost to the taxpayer. This amendment does not just delay LHA-7; this amendment potentially delays our next aircraft carrier, our next submarine, and our next destroyer.

Finally, the gentleman's amendment is not good for the taxpayer, and it is not good for the Navy or the Marine Corps. Previous Congresses have endorsed the procurement of this ship, the administration and the Navy have endorsed the procurement of this ship, and American jobs depend on the procurement of this ship.

I urge my colleagues in the House to vote ``no'' on this amendment.

Madam Chair, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Akin), the chairman of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee.

Mr. AKIN. As the chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, we have taken a good look at LHA-7, and this is an absolutely essential ship. Nobody is arguing that point. It is a large deck amphib assault.

What has happened, though, is that the Marine Corps decided that they wanted to put a well deck in the original design, which has caused some additional negotiations and slowed things down a little bit. But the point of this amendment is to strip $150 million away from this project. That is a very big problem. It is a big problem because next year we have got an aircraft carrier to build, a nuclear-powered submarine, and a destroyer, and this money needs to come from the budget this year in order to keep the LHA-7 on track.

As we have talked about earlier this evening, we are in a bad position in terms of number of ships in the Navy. LHA-7 is critical, it is important, and stripping $150 million does tend to threaten the project, or at least push it off, and then you have to try and fund it in a year when we don't have the funds because we are building a bunch of other ships. So what this does is it guarantees that LHA-7 is going to proceed, but we have to allow enough time for the negotiations.

Mr. ELLISON. Madam Chair, will the gentleman yield for a question?

Mr. AKIN. No, I don't yield.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Missouri controls the time.

Mr. AKIN. The point of the matter is that LHA-7 has to go forward, and we have to make sure that we have the funding. As soon as the negotiations are finished between the Navy and the contractor, then we can move ahead on this project. So the $150 million is important. The exact timing of when it is going to be spent is in question, but the necessity to have the money is not in doubt. That is why we oppose this amendment.

Mr. ELLISON. Would the gentleman yield now for a question?

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from Missouri has expired.

The gentleman from Mississippi has 30 seconds remaining.

Mr. PALAZZO. Madam Chair, I would like to yield the 30 seconds to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Wittman).

Mr. WITTMAN. Madam Chair, I just want to emphasize the need for our amphibious ships. The requirement, the national requirement is 38 ships. The Marine Corps says they can live with 33. We have 28 today.

Mr. ELLISON. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. WITTMAN. No, I will not yield.

Mr. ELLISON. Will the gentleman yield for a question?

Mr. WITTMAN. The requirement is 33. We have 28.

Mr. ELLISON. Will the gentleman yield for a question, Madam Chair?

Mr. WITTMAN. The math is very, very simple. It is a specific need.

Mr. ELLISON. Madam Chair, will the gentleman yield?

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Virginia controls the time.

Mr. WITTMAN. We have to make sure that we meet that need. Our Marine Corps travels around the world needing this ship capability. It is critical to this Nation, critical to our defense. This must be funded today.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Ellison).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.

Mr. ELLISON. Madam Chair, I demand a recorded vote.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Minnesota will be postponed.

AMENDMENT NO. 64 OFFERED BY MS. LORETTA SANCHEZ OF CALIFORNIA

The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 64 printed in House Report 112-88.

Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.

The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Page 708, after line 12, insert the following:

SEC. 1699F-1. BUDGET REDUCTION FOR GROUND-BASED MIDCOURSE DEFENSE SYSTEM.

Notwithstanding the amounts set forth in the funding tables in division D, the amount authorized to be appropriated in section 201 for research, development, test, and evaluation, Defense-Wide, as specified in the corresponding funding table in division D, is hereby reduced by $100,000,000, with the amount of the reduction to be derived from Line 084 Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Segment, PE 0603882C, as set forth in the table under section 4201.

The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 276, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Loretta Sanchez) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California.

Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Chair, this Congress' number one responsibility is to defend and protect our Nation. As we all know, the United States faces incredible threats within and from abroad, and it is the responsibility of the House Armed Services Committee to assess the threats that we face and to look at the limited resources we have and to allocate them in the most effective way we can.

So in the full committee mark, my Republican colleagues increased the funding of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system by $100 million. My amendment would simply take out that $100 million and give it towards savings for our country to bring down the deficit.

We Democrats support progress on homeland missile defense. We want to see that the technology is proven and reliable, and that it is cost effective. However, additional funds for the GMD are not needed and would be wasteful. The head of the Missile Defense Agency, the director, General O'Reilly, has stated that he does not need the increase in these funds for fiscal year 2012. In fact, in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing on April 15, he said: ``Right now, sir, I've got the funding I need to address this problem,'' meaning some of the failure problems we have, ``because I've stopped my production line. My production line was stopped not to save money. It is solely driven by what we need to confirm the design works before we go back into production.''

So additional funding is not needed, and aside from the GAO saying that Congress should reduce by over $400 million the budget for this, I am only talking about the $100 million that in that hearing the General said we don't need it.

Why don't we need it? Because the last two intercept test flights of this system did not work. They failed. And so the agency has gone back to do systems testing. They don't want to produce if it is not working. In fact, they have said that we must fly, i.e. it must work, before we buy.

So, the fiscal year 2011 appropriations has allowed the MDA to focus on resolving the technical challenges from the failed test, and we will proceed with planned projects and avoid delays. Now is the time to get it right. We don't want to build something that just isn't working. I hope that my colleagues will understand that this money is not needed at this time.

I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. TURNER. Madam Chair, I claim the time in opposition.

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

Mr. TURNER. This amendment has been previously debated in committee and was defeated and should be defeated here. There are three reasons why this amendment should be defeated.

This is a program that has had past cuts that have endangered the program. These are dollars that are needed, and the threat that we have is increasing. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is the only missile defense system that we have that currently protects the American people from long-range ballistic missile threats, a threat that is increasing.

This is a program that has had successive cuts in the past. In fiscal year 2010, the administration slashed GMD by 35 percent or $445 million in the same year that program had setbacks. This year's fiscal year 2012 request cuts GMD by 14 percent, or $185 million. The Department's 5-year spending projection cuts Ground-based Missile Defense by an additional billion, or nearly 20 percent. This is a program that is having setbacks, but it is the only program that we have. We can't cut it and expect to fix it. We can't cut it and expect it get it right.

We can't cut it and expect it to be a system that we can depend on on growing threats.

Now, General O'Reilly has testified that he needs four additional ground-based interceptors and an additional 150 to 200 million would be needed for another flight testing and more ground testing. In fact, he just testified today in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee that proposed cuts could threaten the program and set it back by an additional year.

Secretary Gates has testified repeatedly that if we look to the growing threats from North Korea and Iran, these are threats that must be responded to. Our only system to do that is this ground-based missile defense system. We should not cut it. We did not cut it in committee, and we should not cut it here.

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