Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Jack Kingston
Date: July 18, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. KINGSTON. Madam Chair, I offer this amendment with Ms. McCollum from Minnesota today. In fact, it was her amendment from last year that got me involved in this. Basically, what this does is stops the Defense Department from using major sports sponsorships, such as NASCAR motor sports and bass fishing, for a recruitment tool, which is no longer necessary.

There are a number of reasons for this:

Number one, it's not effective. On May 18, 2012, Major Brian Creech said in the USA Today that the National Guard's spending $26.5 million dollars to sponsor NASCAR got 24,800 inquiries. Of those, they got 20 potential recruits. Of those, what did they get for the $26 million? Not one single recruit. I want to say again, $26 million, 24,000 inquiries, zero--zero--recruits. It's not effective.

Now, the National Guard support group has been going around with this document saying, Oh, yes, but look at all the images that we get. Well, again, out of this, according to their own document, they got 40 recruits. So for the money, if you do the math, that's $72,000 per recruit.

And why is that? Well, perhaps because the demographic of NASCAR is that 69 percent of the people are over 35. So when they go and they're pushing their brand or advertising at NASCAR, nearly 70 percent of the people aren't eligible. That's not their target group.

The RAND Corporation, in its 2007 study of recruitment, said that if you want to increase recruitment, then you have to increase the number of recruiters, period. That was the number one thing. That's why on July 10, the Army dropped out of it, and they said:

Although it is a beneficial endeavor for us, it's also rather expensive, and we decided we could repurpose that investment into other programs.

So when Ms. McCollum actually originally offered this, it was an $80 million reduction into the savings account, but since the Army dropped it, now we're offering $72 million.

Secondly, very, very important for us to remember is that the military is reducing its size now, not because of sequestration, before sequestration. They're dropping the number of troops in the Army and the Marines by 103,000, alone. The Defense Department's recruiter has said that the recruitment is high right now because of the economy.

Now, number 3, this program has no accountability. In February, our office, as a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, we asked the Pentagon: What are your hard numbers? If you're spending $72 million sponsoring major sports programs, what are you getting out of it? And they couldn't come up with it. Now, that disturbs me as a fiscal conservative, because I want to believe that if the Pentagon is spending that much money on something, they're able to defend it.

The Miller Beer Company actually put it this way. They said it this way. They said, on exposure:

I don't care how much exposure we get, what that is supposed to be worth, or what our awareness is versus the competition. I need to be able to tell our CEO and our shareholders how many additional cases of beer that I sold.

In short, the Army can't tell us how many recruiters they really do get from this.

And, number four, we've got sequestration facing us, on top of a $487 billion defense cut over the next 10 years, plus a troop reduction of over 100,000 already. We may have additional cuts. And Secretary Panetta has said that we need to work together to find better ways to spend the money and stretch our dollars.

I'm as pro military as they get. I'm proud to say I believe the First District of Georgia has as much military as any district in the country. I have four major military installations and two guard facilities. We have every branch of the military, and we have a bombing range in there. The only thing that has a bigger population than my military are my NASCAR fans. And yet they're saying to me, We're pro NASCAR, but we realize the situation in America today is that for every dollar we spend, 40 cents is borrowed. We can spend this money a lot better than we are today.

Again, look what we're spending per recruit. According to the National Guard document which they provided our office--at least they did provide us with a document which we did not get from the Pentagon--it is still costing us over $700,000 per recruit, from their own documentation.

We can do better than this, and that's why Ms. McCollum and I have worked together and reached across the aisle to say we can spend this money elsewhere more effectively.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I want to point out that cancer research is already funded in this bill at a $246 million level.

I also want to say that Mr. Young, Mr. Murtha, Mr. Dicks, and Mr. Lewis have had a long tradition of leadership on cancer research in the Defense Appropriations Committee. We have always been very supportive of it and will continue so. The bill is already at $246 million.

Secondly, why did we put the money into the cruiser program? We did so because at a time when we are pivoting much of our Navy fleet into the Pacific area, we believe we needed to have as many of these ships capable of missile defense, or the Aegis system, as possible because the world is so unstable.

Many of these ships will probably go to the Pacific. There are six of them that we are re-outfitting for this system, and then some of them may go to the Middle East.

Now, I just got back from spending a night on a carrier that was part of the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf, and our trip also included Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Djibouti. I wish that some of the Members of Congress could get some of the briefings that we got in terms of the missile threat in the Middle East alone, because it is an unstable part of the globe right now, and we have to have our best technology out there and our best sailors and our best airmen ready at all times in case there is a missile attack, and that's what the Defense Committee on a bipartisan basis recognized with this $506 million.

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. KINGSTON. I want to say this. While we all acknowledge there was a numerical explosion and a substantive explosion or a questionable, in substance, on earmarks and that's why earmarks are banned, one of the advantages of earmarks is that it did let the small mom-and-pop innovative small businesses have a crack at the bat at the Pentagon budget. And most of us who are familiar with the Pentagon budget would say it's broken or at least it needs lots of improvement. What the earmarking did do is let small companies have a bite at the apple. So in the interest of banning earmarks, we set up this program to allow small businesses.

I want to give you a graphic example. I had a man come to me one time and said, I used to work with a large defense contractor. He named the contractor and I don't want to name them. But he said, This is a circuit panel. In fact, it's a memory panel. It's about the size of this notebook in my hand. And he said, This is for a nuclear submarine, and it costs about $10 million. I know because I invented it when I was with the large defense contractor. And all nuclear submarines now buy this kind of memory board. But your cell phone--pulling out the BlackBerry--now has more memory in it than that big, awkward panel. But the only way I'm going to get a crack at the business with the U.S. Navy would be through the earmarking process.

Now, I can replace this $10 million circuit memory board for probably hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I can't do that now. You've thrown away that tool for both of us.

So we set up this board to try to let those small businesses have a crack at the bat. And I agree with you there's money in the account that maybe it should be spent down. We need to be looking at it before plussing-up. I think you have raised some good points, but I believe the reason why the program is out there is very important in order to keep the large defense contractors honest, if you will, and provide a path for the small innovators.

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Mr. KINGSTON. Reclaiming my time, as an airplane parts manufacturer, I can promise you that you know how difficult it was to sell your products to the United States Air Force. And this program would allow a small innovator to do that and therefore reduce the cost to the taxpayers of parts for airplanes.

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

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Mr. KINGSTON. I want to say, most importantly, this was authorized in the National Defense Authorization this year which was passed on an overwhelming basis, on a bipartisan vote, and their authorization actually was a lot more than our $75 billion. And the reason why this money is in there and it affects Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California is that there are some changes that are going on in the missile silos, so rather than close down the shop and hope that the bad guys give us a pass until we're ready to defend ourselves, we're having to move these missiles and keep them current, keep them active, and keep them capable while this construction is going on, and then we finish the construction and put them back, and that's why the authorizing committee, on a bipartisan basis, authorized it, and that's why our subcommittee has also supported it, although at a lower number.

With that, I recommend a ``no'' vote and yield back the balance of my time.

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