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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HIGGINS. Madam Chair, the appropriations process and the budget is not only a spending plan about future priorities, it's also a statement about our values.

The United States in 2001 went into Afghanistan and took out the Taliban government. We have also taken out Osama bin Laden.

The United States is proposing to spend $88.5 billion again this year in Afghanistan. We're going into our 11th year of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Eleven years ago, Afghanistan was among the poorest and most corrupt countries on the face of the Earth. Today, it is still among the most corrupt and poorest countries on the face of the Earth.

We've lost 2,000 American soldiers, 16,000 wounded. Last week the U.S. Government decided to spend $105 billion rebuilding the infrastructure of this country, less than $53 billion in each of the next 2 years for a Nation of over 300 million.

You've just spent $78 billion rebuilding the roads and bridges of Afghanistan, a nation of 30 million people. It's time that we do nation-building right here at home.

Of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan, the spiritual and financial home of the Taliban are Kandahar and Helmand provinces, because that is disproportionately where the poppy fields are that finance the Taliban. The literacy rate for women in Kandahar province is 1 percent. The literacy rate for men is about 15 percent.

How do you build up an Afghan police force and Afghan national army with people who are illiterate? We have to build schools and we have to build roads to get them to those schools and electricity to power those schools.

That, Madam Chairman, is nation-building in Afghanistan.

We need to do nation-building right here at home. This $88.5 billion should be directed immediately to rebuild the roads and bridges of this Nation, in America.

According to Transportation for America, we have 69,000 structurally deficient bridges. In New York State alone, we have over 2,000 structurally deficient bridges. In my home community of western New York, we have 99 structurally deficient bridges, and no plan to address that. Every second of every day, seven cars drive on a bridge that is structurally deficient.

We need to get our priorities in order. We need to reaffirm our values. We need to have a vision for rebuilding America. And the best way to do that is start with this appropriation and reprogramming it right back here at home for nation-building here in America.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. HIGGINS. Mr. Chairman, the Department of Defense oversees important research into the varied threats that face our Nation. This research is essential to safeguarding our communities and empowering research institutions and universities to come up with the creative solutions to detect, confront, and neutralize weapons of mass destruction.

My amendment is very straightforward. It would increase funding by $10 million for the defense-wide research, development, test and evaluation account. It is offset by reducing funding for the operation and maintenance defense-wide account.

The intent of this amendment is to support the ongoing work that is being performed through basic research programs at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which is the Department of Defense's official Combat Support Agency for countering weapons of mass destruction.

The grants provided by this funding support 160 research projects across the Nation. Twenty-one universities participate in competitive research projects that help to define, detect, and mitigate the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction. This important work is providing us with a better understanding of the threats we face and creating new innovative solutions to the security risks posed by a chemical, biological, or nuclear attack on the United States homeland.

I ask my colleagues to support this amendment and the important lifesaving research being performed at important institutions across the country.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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