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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. JOHNSON of Ohio. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong opposition to the Burgess-Markey amendment.

Put simply, if this amendment passes, our national security is at risk. The appropriation that this amendment seeks to strike is vital to ensure that America has a domestic source of uranium enrichment. According to U.S. law and nonproliferation treaties that the United States is signatory to, we must have a domestic source of uranium. International agreements prevent us from purchasing enriched uranium from foreign-owned companies for military purposes.

If the Burgess-Markey amendment passes, the U.S. would no longer have a domestic source of enrichment and would instead be reliant on a foreign-owned company that has many red flags in its past for uranium enrichment.

This amendment is a rerun of a similar attempt by Mr. Markey and our colleague from New Mexico (Mr. Pearce) during the debate of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act a few weeks ago to strip the authorizing language for this uranium research, development, and demonstration program. That amendment failed by an overwhelming vote of 121 300. Nothing--I repeat, nothing--has changed in the last few weeks since that vote and today.

Mr. Chairman, some of my colleagues are claiming that the RD&D program is some type of congressional earmark, but this is simply not true. The President of the United States requested the authorization and funding for the RD&D program in his budget request because the President has determined it is necessary for our national security.

Now, I may still be a freshman, but I know enough that, in order to be a congressional earmark, a Member of Congress would need to make the request for the program. That didn't happen.

Furthermore, in the NDAA legislation, Chairman McKeon added a provision to ensure that taxpayers are protected by requiring any company that participates in the RD&D program to put up their intellectual property rights as collateral. The IP rights are worth billions of dollars and far outweigh any amount of money that the Federal Government might put towards this program.

So to call this an earmark or a bailout is just simply not true.

The sponsors of this amendment have also tried to confuse Members by saying that we can satisfy our national security needs by down-blending existing uranium. While we may be able to do this in the near term, this argument is shortsighted at best.

What happens when the government runs out of inventory to down-blend and we no longer have a domestic capability to enrich uranium? The other side doesn't seem to have a good response for that question because they know the answer, and the answer is that we need to go forward with the RD&D program to ensure we have a domestic source in the future.

It seems some would rather ignore the long-term national security implications of having a domestic source of uranium enrichment. The fact is, if this amendment passes, our nuclear national security could be at risk.

Mr. Chairman, I will once again remind my colleagues that this amendment attempts to achieve the same goal that the failed Pearce-Markey amendment did a few weeks ago, and we already know that amendment failed by a very wide margin. I urge my colleagues to defeat this amendment to ensure that our national nuclear security is not outsourced to a foreign-owned company.

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

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