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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment. This amendment would basically prohibit funds from being used to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test. This amendment would negatively impact both the education and recruiting communities.

This test is administered free of charge on a voluntary basis. It's on a voluntary basis to high school and college students as part of a comprehensive Career Exploration Program. This program integrates student aptitudes and interests to help them explore postsecondary opportunities, including college, technical schools, and civilian as well as military careers.

As education resources grow together, many schools rely on this free test to provide a valuable career exploration experience. And we, as a Nation, benefit from this test. Through this amendment, the gentleman would effectively prohibit high schools from offering this test, which would be unfortunate, and we are strongly opposed to the bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, respectfully, I think this is an appropriate time to remind our colleagues that under the Constitution, national defense is the top priority of the House and Senate. Article I, section 8 gives Congress specific authority to declare war, raise and support armies, provide for a navy, establish the rules for the operation of American military forces.

It was in this context that, under Chairman Young, our subcommittee carefully reviewed, over many months, the President's budget and Secretary Panetta's new strategic guidance for the Defense Department. Frankly, we found the administration's approach lacking in many respects. In several key areas, the subcommittee was concerned that the level of risk tolerated by the Armed Forces was unacceptable. We've talked a lot about that on the floor over the last couple of days.

As the Constitution requires, we made adjustments, which is our duty and obligation. Yet even within the allocation that is $3.1 billion higher than our President's request, our subcommittee could have done more for our national security and for our troops, with more resources.

I want our colleagues to know that our subcommittee clearly recognizes the size and nature of the Nation's deficit and debt. That's why we found areas and programs for reduction that were possible without adversely impacting the warfighter or any efforts towards modernization and readiness.

Exercising our mandate to adhere to sound budgeting, we reclaimed funding for programs that were terminated or restructured since the budget was released by the President. We achieved savings from favorable contract pricing adjustments and schedule delays. We cut unjustified cost increases or funding requested ahead of need. We took recisions and surplus from prior years.

Even with these steps to stretch our defense dollars, there remains capability gaps:

In the Navy, we've heard a lot about that over the last couple of days. Our fleet needs more ships. They've got more responsibilities in the Asia Pacific;

The Air Force tactical fighters are aging rapidly. They've had a lot of activity in Iraq and Afghanistan;

The Army is struggling to modernize its ground combat inventory;

The Marines need their version of the F-35, the Joint Strike Fighter;

We need to be prepared to respond to every future crisis. Who knows where that may be.

Syria is engulfed in a civil war. North Korea is unpredictable. Russia wants to reclaim its former glory. China is on the fast track to a stronger military. Iran is working night and day to acquire nuclear weapons. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups continue to plot and plan.

Obviously, the future is challenging, to say the least; and we do our troops and our citizens a disservice if we do not prepare for the next crisis. Mr. Chairman, the legislation before us includes funding for critical national security needs and provides the necessary resources to continue the Nation's vital military efforts abroad.

The Department of Defense has already sustained significant budget reductions. Cuts to the military have accounted for over half the deficit reduction efforts achieved so far, nearly $500 billion, even though national defense accounts for only 20 percent of the entire Federal budget, which is sharply reduced from the 40 percent or more before and during Vietnam.

These are real cuts, not simply reductions to planned future spending. But given the military's urgent needs, their vital role in maintaining global stability, and this House's responsibility to protect America and Americans, I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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