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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. STARK. I'd like to first thank my friend, Ms. Lee, for bringing up this important amendment. She knows so well that the less experience people in this body have had with the military, the fiercer they are. That goes to the Republicans wanting to exceed their own funding cap in the Budget Control Act by $8 billion. This is a moderate amendment to bring us back under the Budget Control Act.

This is the 12th year that we've been fighting and funding a war in Afghanistan and that area; and there's no peace, there's nothing, no stability. The war in Afghanistan has basically contributed to our instability. Nothing has happened over there. Since 2001, we have spent $600 billion or $700 billion on this Afghani war alone, and the Defense Department appropriations bill wants another $600 billion

Republicans like to talk about entitlements like Medicare driving the debt. Well, let me tell you, defense spending has become just as much of an entitlement, with a team of lobbyists and Members of this body who are more interested in protecting defense contractors than protecting our country's health, education, and economic growth.

This bill ignores administration proposals to delay or terminate military programs while providing funding instead for weapons that the Department of Defense doesn't want, doesn't need, and won't work. Apparently, funding wars and weapons instead of better health care, education, and repairing our infrastructure are more important to the Republican majority than all other issues.

I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment and start reining in our out-of-control defense budget.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. STARK. Mr. Chair, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 5856, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2013. Until we can rein in defense spending and treat it like all other federal programs facing damaging funding cuts, I cannot support yet another bloated defense budget. Republicans talk about how entitlements like Medicare are driving the debt. But it is clear that defense spending has become just as much of an entitlement, complete with a team of lobbyists and members of this body that are more interested in protecting defense contractors than protecting our country.

This bill marks the 12th fiscal year the United States has been fighting and funding the War in Afghanistan. During this time, we have pursued a variety of strategies and plans--none of which have delivered peace and stability to Afghanistan or the region. The War has, however, contributed to fiscal instability in our own country. Since 2001, we have spent $634 billion on the Afghanistan War alone. This appropriations bill is going to cost another $608.2 billion that we do not have. Yet the cycle continues.

This year's bill exceeds the Republicans' own funding caps set by the Budget Control Act by almost $8 billion. This bill ignores administration proposals to delay or terminate several military programs while providing funding for weapons programs the DoD said it doesn't want or need. Apparently, funding wars and weapons instead of better health care, education, and repairing our crumbling infrastructure are more important to the Republican Majority. It is unconscionable for us to be cutting these vital programs at the same time we're increasing the defense budget. That is why I joined with Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) to offer an amendment to cut that $8 billion from the defense appropriations bill.

I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment and join me in voting against this out of control defense spending bill.

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