National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Paul Ryan
Date: May 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, we passed a budget. We showed what we would do to deal with all of these fiscal problems and fiscal priorities. We showed defense spending decreases off the defense request from last year. We showed a responsible way to get savings from the Pentagon budget.

To my friends on the other side of the aisle, to their credit, they brought a budget to the floor that turned off the sequester and showed alternative savings as well. The Senate, nothing, no budget for 3 years. The President, he tells us he doesn't want the sequester to kick in, that it's a bad thing to happen, but he's not doing anything to show how he will prevent the sequester from happening.

Two weeks ago, we passed a reconciliation bill. That bill said specifically how we will cut spending in other areas of government to prevent the sequester from occurring next year, 1 year.

The ranking member of the Budget Committee, Mr. Van Hollen, authored an amendment to do the same thing, other savings to pay for 1 year of the sequester set aside. So both the House Republicans and the Democrats in the House proposed the same kind of solution, 1 year set aside.

Let's just look at what people are saying about what the sequester will do to our national defense:

The President, in his own budget, said that the sequester would inflict great damage to the country's national security;

The Secretary of Defense says it would hollow out our defense;

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says that sequestration would pose unacceptable risks to the Nation's security;

The Chief of Naval Operations says that the sequester would have a severe and irreversible impact on the Navy's future;

The Chief of Staff of the Army says that he is definitely afraid of what would happen to our military if this takes place.

All this amendment does is it gives us one more avenue and opportunity to take the spending cuts we have already articulated and to put them in place to prevent the sequester from happening, from seeing all these bad things take place. It gives another opportunity within this conference report, when that arrives, to prevent the sequester from happening by swapping those cuts out with other savings elsewhere in the budget.

Our government is projected to spend about $45 trillion over the next 10 years.

This is a trillion. So the math that the gentleman from Washington mentioned doesn't quite add up. But if we start dropping defense 10 percent in January, that is going to have a destabilizing effect on our national security.

There is plenty of other government spending that's being wasted that can be cut to pay for this. Sixty-one percent of the Federal Government has been on autopilot, off limits. It has not been touched since 2006. There are plenty of areas that we can get savings from like this amendment proposes to. Let's get it from there, and let's not put our men and women at risk who are putting on the uniform and serving us and fighting for our country.

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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I thank the chairman for yielding.

Look, as the gentleman said, the President didn't ask for this amount of money. He asked for more money: in fiscal year 2012, $554 billion; the pre-sequester cap, $546 billion; the President's request, $551 billion. Our budget resolution was $554 billion. This bill, the base bill, is $548 billion. The gentlelady's amendment is $539.7 billion.

The gentlelady's amendment is cutting defense below the BCA caps, below the President's request. To the other gentlelady from California, all of these programs she mentioned are increasing.

The attempts that have been made by the majority have been to slow the rate of increase. This is being cut--real reductions in this category of spending--when all the other domestic spending is increasing, hopefully, at a slightly slower pace.

So let's remind ourselves that this is the first priority of the Federal Government. We are in war right now. The President, himself, and his budget are saying that we have to be higher for the safety and the security of our troops.

If the gentlelady's amendment passes, which actually brings it down below the BCA levels, then she is giving all the discretion to the executive branch, to the President, in order to decide how to allocate those dollars--ceding the power of the purse from the legislative branch to the executive branch--which is clearly not in our interest as guardians of the elected branch, the legislative branch of Congress.

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