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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MULVANEY. Madam Chair, I thank the chairman and also the ranking member for the opportunity to present this amendment.

Madam Chair, the amendment is something different for me. It is not an amendment to reduce spending, and it's also not an amendment to increase spending. In fact, this amendment is outlay neutral.

Similarly, consistent with what the chairman and the ranking member discussed when introducing the bill, this amendment is not a partisan amendment. I do not seek to lay blame on either party or on the President or on the Congress for the circumstance in which we find ourselves.

This amendment regards simply a policy, a policy that traditionally has had bipartisan support in this House, and that policy is that we keep separate spending on the base defense budget, and spending on the Overseas Contingency Operations, or the war budget.

It has come to our attention, and both the CBO and the GAO have confirmed, that there is $5.6 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operation budget, in the war budget, that should be in the base budget. We have taken things such as the base salaries for men and women in uniform who are not deployed and are charging that spending this year to the war budget.

Madam Chair, since 9/11 we have had a policy in this House of keeping those two items separate so that we know the real cost of the war against terror. We have taken the base defense spending and accounted for it in one fashion, and accounted for the war budget in an entirely separate system. This year, for the first time, Madam Chair, we are blending those numbers. We take $5.6 billion of what should be in the base budget and move it to the OCO budget.

Madam Chair, the committee itself recognizes that it is not good policy. If you look at the bill, you will see that the committee itself says let's make sure not to do this next year and the year after that and the year after that. And indeed, we have not done it since 9/11. But we do it this year, this year only in this particular bill, and I think it's important that we continue to abide by the policy that accounts correctly for the cost of the war overseas.

So, Madam Chair, what I say to you is, this amendment is not about spending more money. It's not about spending less money. It is about accounting accurately for the spending that we do so that we can tell folks back home exactly what we spend on the base defense of this Nation and what we spend in the wars overseas. And for that reason, Madam Chair, I would ask for a ``yea'' vote on this particular amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. MULVANEY. Madam Chair, it is true that a new point of order was created under the Budget Control Act preventing any legislation from being considered in the House that would cause discretionary spending to exceed the caps established in the Budget Control Act. Under that part of the act, Madam Chair, the entire bill is technically out of order because the entire bill exceeds the BCA caps by $7.5 billion.

Ironically then, if this point of order is sustained, then we will effectively keep within the shadows a nonpartisan policy, something that everyone has supported in the past, a good governance issue, while allowing the entire bill, which also violates the same point of order, to proceed.

My amendment is outlay neutral. It does not increase spending, it does not decrease spending. It simply moves spending from the war budget to the base budget, and vice versa. If the amendment were agreed to, the budget authority in the bill will be exactly the same as it is if the amendment fails, $608,213,000,000.

Accordingly, the amendment does not violate section 302(f)(1) of the Congressional Budget Act, and overruling the point of order gives us the chance to abide by the precedent established long ago and embraced by both parties.

I respectfully ask that the Chair overrule the point of order.

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