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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment for a number of reasons, although I think he's made some good points, and certainly we want accountability to apply to this program as much as we want it to apply to anything. However, this is the same funding level as last year. The request was $425 million, and our commanders in the theater are telling us that that is even not high enough. So what we're doing with this amendment is actually cutting a level funding item from last year, cutting it in half.

Now, what does the CERP money do, the Commander's Emergency Response Program money? Let's say an IED explodes, or maybe there is a bomb that blows up a storefront in the middle of the street. A commander can go in there and hire local labor to clear out the entrance to that small business or whatever it is and get it done quickly without having to put U.S. Army personnel in danger to do it and can do it quickly and effectively and therefore leave our soldiers in the field, leave our soldiers where they can be most effective with their time and their training, and it does promote some goodwill on the streets with the people.

It has been said, well, all you're doing is renting a friend, and we're not going to be the first army that's fighting a war that rents friends, if you will. It really doesn't just rent a friend. It does create some long-term goodwill and does have an economic benefit of it. But the idea is to give the commander on the street some flexibility so that they can get the jobs done as the jobs arise and get them done quickly and turn them around.

CERP money actually has been an effective tool, and it's enormously popular with our commanders who are on the ground. I believe one of the problems we have in Afghanistan, one of the problems we've always had, is that too many decisions are being made down the street at the Pentagon and not in Baghdad, not in Kabul, not in Kandahar, where the commanders are closest to the war front.

For these reasons, Mr. Chairman, I urge a ``no'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. KINGSTON. I support the gentleman's amendment, but I do want to understand one thing in terms of what it does to the military's options of purchasing domestic or even North American fuel. And the reason why I say that is, as I understand, the Department of Defense has three strategies in terms of energy, or using less energy. Number one is to increase the fight, decrease the fuel. Number three is increase the capacity. And then number two--and I am going in this order for a reason--is to increase the fuel options, the choices, to diversify the fuel sources. And it appears to me that 526 has inadvertently eliminated some of the options.

I would like to yield to my friend from Texas (Mr. Flores) to explain that a little bit further, particularly with respect to domestic energy sources.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. KINGSTON. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, what I am concerned about, with 84 million barrels of fuel produced every day, and America only having control of about 3 percent of that, yet consuming 25 percent, wherever we can use a friendly source of fuel is something that we need to keep open as an option.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. KINGSTON. Will the gentlewoman yield?

Ms. HERRERA BEUTLER. I yield to the gentleman from Georgia.

Mr. KINGSTON. I think that the point you have raised is a very valid point and something that is very good discussion matter.

Unfortunately, we believe that it is authorizing on an appropriation, as the Chair has confirmed, but that's probably the concern far more than the philosophical concern.

So I think that if you and the gentleman can work on some other language, make another run at it, I cannot speak for the real chairman of the committee, but I think that there are going to be a number of people who would have sympathies with you because I think you have raised a very valid point.

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