Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

By:  Rodney Frelinghuysen
Date: July 18, 2012
Location: Unknown

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentleman from Florida for yielding, and for his leadership, and that of Mr. Dicks, as well.

In preparation for this debate, the subcommittee held a lengthy series of hearings examining such varied issues as our operations in Afghanistan, the so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, Army modernization, Navy shipbuilding, Marine end strength, and the Air Force restructuring proposals.

Most of these issues relate, as the chairman has said, to mitigating risk in the Defense budget in what is called the ``new strategic guidance'' from the Department of Defense. It's what I would characterize as protecting our gains in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as preparing for future and current threats, such as China's growing military capacity, instability in the Korean peninsula, civil war in Syria, Iran's pledge to close the Strait of Hormuz, and others.

As you'll hear during this debate, the committee weighed in with its own options. As the chairman said, we pause the Air Force restructuring decisions. In light of the tyranny of distance that characterizes the Asia-Pacific region,
we bolster the Navy's shipbuilding accounts and add back in a Virginia-class submarine and a Burke-class destroyer.

Our goal here, and throughout the bill, was to provide the resources to support our warfighters now and in the future whenever the next crisis arises. We clearly recognized the Nation's debt and deficit, and found areas in programs where reductions were possible without adversely impacting our Armed Forces and modernization readiness efforts.

Exercising our mandate to adhere to sound budgeting, we reclaimed funding for programs terminated or restructured since the budget was released. We've achieved savings for favorable contract price adjustments, such as multiyear procurements of complicated weapons systems. We cut unjustified cost increases or funding requested ahead of need. We also took recisions from surplus from prior year funds. Frankly, it is important that we find savings without harming readiness or increasing the risks incurred by our warfighters.

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. In addition, the bill provides essential funding for health and quality-of-life programs for our men and women in uniform--all volunteers--and their families.

I want to thank Chairman Young, Ranking Member Dicks, Chairman Rogers, and all the Members of the subcommittee for their work, and the excellent staff we have, and our past leadership and our continued leadership from Congressman Jerry Lewis of California. We were all able to work together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that our men and women in uniform--all volunteers--and their families have the support they need. The years ahead will be challenging, but our defense bill will meet those needs.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I strongly object to the arbitrary reductions to the Operations and Maintenance, Defense-Wide appropriations account.

The Operations and Maintenance appropriations account funding, as Mr. Young stated a few minutes ago, is critical to the readiness, safety, and quality of life for our brave men and women who volunteer to serve each and every day. Cutting this account would hurt our readiness, and that is something we cannot do at this point in time.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, the Joint IED Defeat fund recognizes the fact that we're still a nation at war. The young men and women who come back from war--and God forbid, some come back having paid the ultimate sacrifice, but many come back with unbelievable wounds, double amputees, loss of different limbs. This joint IED task force has done a lot to minimize that possibility.

The committee did recognize, and as the gentlewoman mentions, we did reduce spending in this fund by $70 million. But we're a nation at war. They still have a critical mission. It's important that the work that they continue to do to defeat sometimes the simplest IEDs and sometimes the most complex IEDs continue. It's an investment that we need to make to make sure that, as we finish our job in Afghanistan, that we do our level best to protect our troops, those that are volunteering there, and to bring them back home in one piece.

So we oppose the gentlewoman's amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentlemen for their comments, and we share in their support of a strong organic industrial base and a strong, ready military.

We are pleased to work closely with members of the army depot and arsenal delegation throughout the conference proceedings to ensure their concerns are fully addressed and the necessary adjustments to depot and arsenal funding are made.

I thank the gentleman for yielding.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentlewoman's amendment. I'm the first to admit that defense should not be immune to reasonable, analytically-based reductions, which are what we've already done over the past few years.

Just 2 years ago, when Congress considered the fiscal year 2011 defense budget, the Department was planning on a fiscal year 2013 budget of roughly $562 billion. Their actual request for 2013, however, was only $516 billion, $46 billion less.

In fact, in the past two fiscal years, our committee has produced a defense budget which totaled $39 billion below the request.

My point is that we have cut defense, but we have done so reasonably and without impacting readiness or threatening the Department's ability to protect our Nation and our allies. This fiscal year 2013 budget is the first we've seen in which there are identifiable and significant risks associated with the budget decisions we've made.

We've talked about that a lot today, about our pivot towards the Asia Pacific, the growing capability of China, things on the North Korean peninsula, for example, in cutting ships and in reducing the required Navy ship fleet size, in retiring large numbers of aircraft, some of which have been delivered, and in significantly underfunding facility maintenance and modernization. We have tried to mitigate these as best we could within our given allocation. Speaking of our allocation, it is essentially in line with both the Ryan budget as well as with the Defense authorization bill, both of which passed the House.

Finally, in just the CBO's most recent analysis of the Department's future-years' defense program, they determined that the Department's plans will cost $123 billion more than they projected over the next 5 years. National security, of course, should never be subjected to partisan politics. Instead, we should show our support for our brave men and women, who have sacrificed so much and who continue to do so on our behalf.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, normally the committee is given the courtesy of seeing amendments that come to the floor. This is the third time today, I believe, the gentleman from Massachusetts has shown a lack of courtesy in letting the committee have copies of his amendments.

Let me say, as a Nation, we still believe in a nuclear deterrent. The last time I checked, there was bipartisan support for that. Both Mr. Visclosky and I serve on the Energy and Water Subcommittee, and part of our jurisdiction is to make sure that the President of the United States, our Commander in Chief, verifies that we have nuclear capabilities. The last time I checked, the administration was conducting what we call a Nuclear Posture Review relative to what our position should be in negotiations with other nuclear powers in terms of the type of weapons that are so critical to the nuclear triad.

So, with all due respect to the gentleman from Massachusetts, who referred to a lot of what we said as the fantasy land of our bill, it would be good, actually, for the Members of Congress to have some facts from the Nuclear Posture Review before we consider something here which might put our Nation at risk.

I strongly oppose this amendment, and I urge my colleagues to do so as well.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentleman from Florida for yielding, and for his leadership, and that of Mr. Dicks, as well.

In preparation for this debate, the subcommittee held a lengthy series of hearings examining such varied issues as our operations in Afghanistan, the so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, Army modernization, Navy shipbuilding, Marine end strength, and the Air Force restructuring proposals.

Most of these issues relate, as the chairman has said, to mitigating risk in the Defense budget in what is called the ``new strategic guidance'' from the Department of Defense. It's what I would characterize as protecting our gains in the Middle East and elsewhere, as well as preparing for future and current threats, such as China's growing military capacity, instability in the Korean peninsula, civil war in Syria, Iran's pledge to close the Strait of Hormuz, and others.

As you'll hear during this debate, the committee weighed in with its own options. As the chairman said, we pause the Air Force restructuring decisions. In light of the tyranny of distance that characterizes the Asia-Pacific region, we bolster the Navy's shipbuilding accounts and add back in a Virginia-class submarine and a Burke-class destroyer.

Our goal here, and throughout the bill, was to provide the resources to support our warfighters now and in the future whenever the next crisis arises. We clearly recognized the Nation's debt and deficit, and found areas in programs where reductions were possible without adversely impacting our Armed Forces and modernization readiness efforts.

Exercising our mandate to adhere to sound budgeting, we reclaimed funding for programs terminated or restructured since the budget was released. We've achieved savings for favorable contract price adjustments, such as multiyear procurements of complicated weapons systems. We cut unjustified cost increases or funding requested ahead of need. We also took recisions from surplus from prior year funds. Frankly, it is important that we find savings without harming readiness or increasing the risks incurred by our warfighters.

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. In addition, the bill provides essential funding for health and quality-of-life programs for our men and women in uniform--all volunteers--and their families.

I want to thank Chairman Young, Ranking Member Dicks, Chairman Rogers, and all the Members of the subcommittee for their work, and the excellent staff we have, and our past leadership and our continued leadership from Congressman Jerry Lewis of California. We were all able to work together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that our men and women in uniform--all volunteers--and their families have the support they need. The years ahead will be challenging, but our defense bill will meet those needs.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I strongly object to the arbitrary reductions to the Operations and Maintenance, Defense-Wide appropriations account.

The Operations and Maintenance appropriations account funding, as Mr. Young stated a few minutes ago, is critical to the readiness, safety, and quality of life for our brave men and women who volunteer to serve each and every day. Cutting this account would hurt our readiness, and that is something we cannot do at this point in time.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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