Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) offered legislation to reduce the deficit and increase military safety by cutting $1.3 billion in funding for the Department of Defense's failed V-22 Osprey program and improving the DoD's hazardous material shipment program.
"We have limited resources and tough choices to make, and responsible deficit reduction means defense cuts must be on the table," said Rep. Quigley. "Something is seriously wrong with our priorities if we're willing to preserve ineffective Defense programs that put our service members in harm's way but cut investments to vital programs that make America stronger, like infrastructure, education and health care."
Rep. Quigley's reforms were offered as two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the House begins considering today.
The first amendment under consideration, cosponsored by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), eliminates $1.3 billion in funding for the procurement of V-22 Ospreys and would potentially reduce the national deficit by $10 billion over 10 years.
The aircraft's safety and reliability issues have resulted in 36 accidental deaths, 31 of which were service members. Most recently, two marines lost their lives when an Osprey crashed in Morocco last month.
The V-22 Osprey aircraft has been in development for more than 25 years, but a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study in 2009 found the Osprey was not suited to fly safely in extreme heat, excessive sand, or under enemy fire. The GAO also found the Osprey program was 186 percent over budget, costing over $100 million per unit to produce, or five times more than the CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter it was designed to replace. The study was requested by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on which Rep. Quigley sits.
Though cost and operational improvements have been made since the GAO report was completed, the Pentagon testing office found that the readiness rate of the Osprey was just 53 percent from June 2007 to May 2010. The rate is well below that of traditional aircraft and the required rate of 82 percent.
Previous attempts by President George H.W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to eliminate V-22 Osprey funding failed to be approved by Congress. Currently, President Obama's Bipartisan Fiscal Commission, the Bipartisan Policy Commission and the Sustainable Defense Task Force have all recommended cutting the V-22 Osprey and replacing it with the less expensive MH-60 helicopters.
A second amendment offered by Rep. Quigley and Republican colleague Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14) calls on the GAO to study the DoD's packaging procedures for hazardous materials and make recommendations to improve efficiency, increase safety and cut costs.
The timely shipment of supplies and equipment is vital to the safety and success of our troops, but frequent delays put service members in jeopardy and waste billions of dollars annually. Reducing delayed, or "frustrated," shipments by just three percent could increase safety and save the DoD $2 billion annually.
According to research by the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, hazmat shipments are frequently frustrated due to missing or improper documents, labels and packaging. When shipping documents are incorrect or missing, a shipment may never reach its intended destination. The study found 73 percent of the hazmat frustrated shipments had no shipping documents and were delayed 11-15 days on average.
Earlier today Rep. Quigley spoke out on the NDAA and the need to put Defense spending on the table to reach bipartisan and balanced deficit reduction. For video of his speech, please click here.
Rep. Quigley has been committed to good government reform and deficit reduction in his two terms in Congress. He has continually advocated for overhauling unlimited Defense spending and is the author of Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget Parts I and II, a report which establishes transparency in the budget process and offers 60 recommendations to save $2 trillion over the next 10 years. Guided by principles of the Simpson-Bowles budget alternative, he has worked across the aisle to push a "3B Budget Plan" that is bipartisan, big and balanced.