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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the amendment. This amendment is being offered for purely political reasons.

As the gentleman knows, the Defense of Marriage Act is already current law. Despite the successful repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell last year under DOMA, same-sex military spouses are not entitled to the same benefits as other married couples. This amendment only seeks to divide this House. He knows that current law already prohibits same-sex spouses from independently shopping at military commissaries, using base gyms, or benefiting from subsidized dental and health care.

I do believe we should have the debate of the effects of DOMA on our servicemembers and their families, but introducing this contentious and discriminatory amendment to this bill is not the place. I urge my colleagues to oppose this divisive amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. Frankly, we don't have any problem with this amendment. I would be very surprised if the administration would give any classified information to the Russian Government. Now, maybe the gentleman knows something that I don't know. And I understand that there was an inadvertent comment suggesting that after the election there may be a better opportunity to work between the two governments. Those things are said at times. But I have no personal information that anyone is saying that we're going to give them this information. So I personally think it would be a mistake to give it to them unless it was declassified so the American people would know what the information was.

But in this case, just to be sure, I'm willing to go along with the gentleman's amendment. We have to be very careful here with classified information, there's no question about that. There's been some concern expressed about classified information being released to the public, which is another questionable activity.

I support the gentleman's amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. I have had a chance to talk to the distinguished chairman of the Defense Subcommittee, Mr. Young of Florida, about this issue. I can tell you, based on long experience, that no one cares more about our wounded warriors and also of those who have lost their lives and are coming home for the last time.

I think the way that the Department of Defense handles this is appropriate. They are trying to get these bodies back to the parents or to the families as expeditiously as possible. Obviously, Congress doesn't tell them how to do this. Obviously, we fund that program. I just appreciate Mr. Young's history of concern about our troops. I know that he stood up to a journalist, as most of us have had to do from time to time, who thinks he knows all the answers but who has not gotten all of the information.

As was suggested, the decisions about how to do this from Dover to the home are made by the Department of Defense. I think that it is done appropriately, and I think it is done in a dignified way and in a way that all of us can be proud of. So I appreciate what Mr. Young has done here. I just want him to know that I support him and will be glad to talk to any reporter.

I see the distinguished chairman of the authorizing committee is here as well. Maybe it's necessary to have another meeting and to bring in some of the senior Members of the House and those who are leaders in defense to talk to this reporter and to try to make him understand how this actually functions.

I just want my good friend Mr. Young to know that we support him. This is not something that he has day-to-day responsibility for, and he should not be blamed in any way. Again, we just know that he and his wife, Beverly, have been such great supporters of the troops, so to have any insinuation here is just not appropriate.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. I agree with my colleague and look forward to working with you on this issue. Our National Guard and Humvee ambulances must have the cardiac monitoring and resuscitation equipment and capabilities needed to respond to terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and homeland security emergencies. This should be given careful thought when the Department of Defense makes future purchases. I might point out that this probably comes in other procurement for the Army, but also that the committee has provided $2 billion in National Guard equipment so that this money goes through and the National Guard actually gets to decide what that equipment is.

We look forward to working with you, with the Army, and the National Guard to see if there's an answer to this problem.

I appreciate the gentlelady yielding.

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Mr. DICKS. I support the amendment as well, and I appreciate the work of my friend and colleague from Virginia (Mr. Moran) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro on this issue.

There are some reasons why these Mi-17 helicopters are sold to the Afghans. It's not just a blunder. It's because of the altitude of the country. There is a legitimate national security issue here that has to be addressed, and I think we do have helicopters, maybe not Black Hawks, but CH-47s, that can go to a higher altitude. I don't know how much more expensive they are or anything about it.

But I just want to point out that, because I don't want people to have the impression that they just did this maliciously. There were some legitimate reasons for this.

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Mr. MORAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I very much thank my friend and colleague, the ranking member of the committee.

That is an important point to make. The Pentagon not only has to be concerned about the operability in Afghanistan, which is quite different.

Mr. DICKS. Very unique.

Mr. MORAN. It is very unique. Plus, the Afghans need helicopters they can maintain after we leave. They are used to maintaining Russian helicopters. During the occupation, they learned that. I understand they are easier to maintain than some of ours.

But notwithstanding that, I think the gentleman would agree that there is reason for some apprehension after we have left the country to continue supplying these helicopters.

Mr. DICKS. There ought to be a competition. I mean, there is no reason that this should be sole-sourced. There should be an opportunity for American contractors to compete, and one thing we're going to have to work on is logistics and their ability to handle equipment. That's a very weak point right now with the Afghan military.

Mr. MORAN. The other point, if the gentleman would further yield, is this firm is not someone we ought to be dealing with unless we absolutely have to. These are people that have violated our concerns about providing nuclear capacity to Iran. They have been cited about that. They are supplying a billion dollars of arms to Assad; and its principal reason, I suspect, because it's a state-owned firm, that Russia won't comply with the rest of the world.

It does need to be seen in that context, as well, to send this kind of a message. It's not a message I am necessarily sending to the Pentagon. It's a message we're trying to send to Russia: Let's get on board.

Mr. DICKS. In that respect I am totally supportive of what the gentleman is trying to accomplish.

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Mr. DICKS. As you know, the New START, or strategic arms reduction, is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia. On December 22, 2010, the Senate increased our national security by providing its advice and consent to ratification of the New START Treaty with Russia. With the New START Treaty, the United States and Russia will have another important element supporting our reset relationship and expanding our bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues.

As the President said during the end of the last Congress, the treaty is a national security imperative as well as a cornerstone of our relations with Russia. Under the terms of the treaty, the U.S. and Russia will be limited to significantly fewer strategic arms within 7 years from the date the treaty entered into force. Each party has the flexibility to determine for itself the structure of the strategic forces within the aggregate limits of the treaty.

We should carry out our commitment to the New START treaty and not restrict our country's obligation to implement it. I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.

I would say to the gentleman, if there is one thing--and I stand here as a member of this subcommittee for 34 years--that we can reduce, it's strategic weapons. We have never used one, except in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And we can have a credible deterrent with a much smaller force. In fact, I agree with General Cartwright that we could use our strategic ballistic missile submarines and our long-range bombers, the B-2s and hopefully a new bomber, and reduce dramatically the number of land-based ICBMs.

We simply don't need, and we can't afford to have and continue to produce all of these nuclear weapons that will, more than likely, never be used. They are a good deterrent and they have been an effective deterrent. Thank God for that. But the Cold War is over, and we are in a position today where we must reduce the size of our nuclear weapons force.

I yield to the gentleman. I've been here a long time. I went through all the arms control debates, and I know something about this subject.

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Mr. DICKS. Regaining my time, just for a second, I worked to convert the B-2 bomber from a nuclear weapon carrier to a conventional carrier. Do you know why a conventional bomber is, I think, more of a deterrent than a nuclear bomber? Because with a conventional bomber, you can use bombs. You can go in, and with the JDAMs that we put on those bombers, in one sortie, you could take out 16 targets. That is real deterrence. And that is having a conventional force that is usable.

Nuclear weapons are not going to be used, and that's why both sides can have a much smaller force. We can bring the number of nuclear weapons down. At some point, it becomes ridiculous to have that many warheads when there aren't that many targets, and we're not going to use them.

I know the gentleman is all wrought up about this and protecting our great deterrent, which has been a very valuable thing to our national security. But I have to tell you, if there is one thing that we can reduce by agreement with the Russians, it is nuclear weapons.

I will yield to the gentleman again if he wants to say anything else.

Mr. TURNER of Ohio. To respond to the gentleman, again, our nuclear deterrent is used every day. Every day, it keeps us safe because it ensures that our country----

Mr. DICKS. It isn't used every day. It's available every day.

Mr. TURNER of Ohio. This is my time. The time that I am speaking is my time. You yielded me some and you kept your own.

Mr. DICKS. I yield.

Mr. TURNER of Ohio. The reality is that our nuclear deterrent is used every day. And when you say that nuclear weapons won't be used, you can only say that with respect to our heart, the heart of this country, the heart of this country that wants to make certain that freedom is safe and our allies are safe.

We can't say that for others. Iran and North Korea are pursuing nuclear weapons not because they just want the increased power, they want that technology. They want that ability to have weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. DICKS. I reclaim my time.

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Mr. DICKS. You don't need thousands of these weapons. A couple hundred, frankly, could take out Iran and almost any country you can imagine. So, again, we can't afford to do everything. We are in an era where we're dealing with terrorists, and we need to have special forces that can be utilized. We need to have these very effective drones. We need to look at the threats that are out there today and equip our military accordingly.

This is not our responsibility. The Senate handles advice and consent on treaties. We should stay out of this. In my judgment, this amendment is unnecessary.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. Would you explain--you say here you have these two brigades, except pursuant to article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Could you explain what the impact of this is, the treaty commitments here?

Mr. COFFMAN of Colorado. To the gentleman from Washington, I believe that this certainly does not disallow us to maintain rotational forces in Europe. There is no provision within the NATO Charter that requires the United States to maintain a permanent military presence in Europe.

Mr. DICKS. It says:

None of the funds appropriated in this act shall be available to continue the deployment beyond fiscal year 2013 of the 170th Infantry Brigade in Baumholder and the 172nd Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, except pursuant to article 5 of the North----

Is there some commitment in the North Atlantic Treaty that requires us to have these two brigades there?

Mr. COFFMAN of Colorado. To the gentleman from Washington, there is no requirement where we have to maintain a permanent military presence in Europe.

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Mr. DICKS. I rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

I believe that this amendment is unnecessary because the Department of Defense is currently in the process of reducing the number of troops in Europe. The Department has already announced the closure of Army garrisons in Schweinfurt, Bamberg, and Heidelberg by fiscal year 2015.

Furthermore, the Department has begun the process of deactivating two infantry brigades, the 170th Infantry Brigade and the 172nd Infantry Brigade, each with 3,850 soldiers. I think this is what the gentleman intends. In addition, the U.S. Army in Europe will see a reduction of approximately 2,500 soldiers from enabling units over the next 5 years.

Reducing end strength of any military service is an art form, as projecting future needs for future conflicts is a very difficult task. Reducing end strength should be part of a deliberate and thoughtful plan that incorporates current and future national security needs of the Nation.

I believe adding an arbitrary cap to the number of servicemembers assigned to Europe could put our national security at risk. I urge all my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. YOUNG of Florida. I thank the gentlelady for yielding.

I also thank her for her strong support of the C-17, and she is right on with regard to the vital role it plays in our Nation's defense.

This committee has been a strong advocate for the C-17. Our bill fully funds the C-17 and ensures that no action can be taken by the Air Force to reduce the C-17 fleet.

I again thank the gentlelady for her very timely comments on this important issue.

Mr. DICKS. Will the gentlelady yield?

Ms. RICHARDSON. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.

Mr. DICKS. I was a very strong proponent of the C-17 even when Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach was building this airplane. I had a chance to go there when they were doing the wooden mock-ups and when they brought in the load masters, who made it such that the plane was built in a way that it could load cargo faster than any other airplane in history. We have 54 of these at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the great State of Washington. We are very proud of the C-17. It is now built by the Boeing Company.

I just want you to know that we are a very strong proponent. We had some great work done in the nineties in upgrading the software when we had major software issues. We also had a dramatic workforce out there that really used all of the tools of lean production. So the C-17 is a very high priority, and we will certainly do everything we can.

I wish we'd built more of them, frankly, while we had the line open, but we did everything we could. We are at a point now where the line is closing down except for foreign sales. We have a number of foreign sales; and if at some point we need to come back to it, I certainly would be open to that.

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Mr. DICKS. This has been a subject I've been very interested in as former chairman of the Interior Appropriation Subcommittee where we have to fund the efforts for firefighting, which are very massive.

I have tried to work with the Defense Department. The biggest problem we face is that OMB, when you want to lease these airplanes--we're looking mainly at the C-130J here--lease them for firefighting purposes and then have them deployed with the National Guard in California or somewhere on the west coast, you get into the fact that if you try to lease them, the budget control people want to put the whole burden on the first year. This is why leasing has become difficult. We've got to work out a way to get these airplanes.

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Mr. DICKS. I want the gentlelady to know that we worked with Mr. Young on a number of insertions of report language in the report because of our concern about this issue as well. This is something where we always have to be vigilant because the people kind of forget what the legal responsibilities are. These are statutory responsibilities.

I appreciate the gentlelady from California bringing this to our attention. We'll work with her on this issue.

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Mr. DICKS. The New START Treaty limits the total number of weapon delivery vehicles by 2017. According to the Air Force, they are funded for New START implementation, but are awaiting final force structure decisions to determine numbers of weapon delivery vehicles to be reduced in FY 13.

We should carry out our obligation under the New START Treaty and not restrict the Department's obligation to implement it. I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.

I want to make it clear to my colleagues just what we're talking about. Under the New START we will have 520 ICBMs with 420 warheads. We will have 60 bombers, 42 B-52s and 18 B-2s that are nuclear capable, and they have many warheads. We have 240 sub-launched missiles. The number of subs are not restricted, but we have 14 Trident submarines.

I would, with all due respect, just say this, this is one area where we can, if we can come down on a mutual agreement with the Russians to a lower level, we can save ourselves the money of not having to replace all of these weapons systems. A lot of very thoughtful people have looked at this issue, and they believe that the two most survivable legs of the triad are the ballistic missile submarines and the bombers. The land-based missiles are vulnerable. Now, we had great debates over the MX missile. We got into how many RVs coming in to take out an existing missile, usually it's two, so the enemy would be using up weapons.

But the point of it all is, the last thing that we're going to be using is nuclear weapons. It just is not going to happen; it would destroy the world. So we can come down to a lower level and still have a credible deterrent. We can't afford to do everything.

The most important thing today, I think, is to build up our Special Forces, build up our intelligence capabilities, and look at the threats that we're facing out there with al Qaeda and the terrorists. Frankly, nuclear weapons are a relic of the Cold War, and we should bring down the size of this.

General Cartwright, one of the most thoughtful former members of the Joint Chiefs, has suggested that we go to a DYAD, just having ballistic missile submarines and bombers. That's something that we should consider. The Markey amendment would have started us in a way of reducing the number of land-based missiles.

I just think it's not right for us to get in the middle of this. The Senate had long hearings. They went through a process of ratification. This treaty was ratified by the United States Senate.

Again, I just think if there is one area where we can make some reductions, it's in the area of nuclear weapons. We're just not going to need as many as we've had in the past, and we can have great deterrents at a lower level. I hope we can reach that.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. The New START Treaty limits the total number of weapon delivery vehicles by 2017. According to the Air Force, they are funded for New START implementation, but are awaiting final force structure decisions to determine numbers of weapon delivery vehicles to be reduced in FY 13.

We should carry out our obligation under the New START Treaty and not restrict the Department's obligation to implement it. I urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment.

I want to make it clear to my colleagues just what we're talking about. Under the New START we will have 520 ICBMs with 420 warheads. We will have 60 bombers, 42 B-52s and 18 B-2s that are nuclear capable, and they have many warheads. We have 240 sub-launched missiles. The number of subs are not restricted, but we have 14 Trident submarines.

I would, with all due respect, just say this, this is one area where we can, if we can come down on a mutual agreement with the Russians to a lower level, we can save ourselves the money of not having to replace all of these weapons systems. A lot of very thoughtful people have looked at this issue, and they believe that the two most survivable legs of the triad are the ballistic missile submarines and the bombers. The land-based missiles are vulnerable. Now, we had great debates over the MX missile. We got into how many RVs coming in to take out an existing missile, usually it's two, so the enemy would be using up weapons.

But the point of it all is, the last thing that we're going to be using is nuclear weapons. It just is not going to happen; it would destroy the world. So we can come down to a lower level and still have a credible deterrent. We can't afford to do everything.

The most important thing today, I think, is to build up our Special Forces, build up our intelligence capabilities, and look at the threats that we're facing out there with al Qaeda and the terrorists. Frankly, nuclear weapons are a relic of the Cold War, and we should bring down the size of this.

General Cartwright, one of the most thoughtful former members of the Joint Chiefs, has suggested that we go to a DYAD, just having ballistic missile submarines and bombers. That's something that we should consider. The Markey amendment would have started us in a way of reducing the number of land-based missiles.

I just think it's not right for us to get in the middle of this. The Senate had long hearings. They went through a process of ratification. This treaty was ratified by the United States Senate.

Again, I just think if there is one area where we can make some reductions, it's in the area of nuclear weapons. We're just not going to need as many as we've had in the past, and we can have great deterrents at a lower level. I hope we can reach that.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. The gentleman from New Jersey has my assurance we will work with him on this issue. And I would just say that our chairman has been a great leader on this issue. No one has done more than Bill Young on this. I look forward to working with him and trying to make sure that this program is completely and thoroughly evaluated by the Army, by the National Guard, and by the VA.

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Mr. DICKS. I, too, echo the gentleman's interest in the field of directed energy and solid-state laser technology. With the threats and environment that the warfighter and the intelligence community are facing, the addition of new technologies that provide a tactical and strategic edge should be examined more rigorously.

I appreciate the gentleman yielding.

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Mr. DICKS. I rise to seek the chairman's support in addressing an issue of which he is deeply and painfully aware: the rapidly increasing numbers of cases of amputations, post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury suffered by our brave young men and women returning from combat theaters. Of course, these conditions can have a devastating impact on military dependents. They are also having an increasingly devastating impact on the military health care system that serves our soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, and their families.

There is no one who has worked harder than the chairman of our subcommittee to ensure that the very best medical care is available to the 9 million Americans who have earned the benefits of our military health care system. Yet I remain concerned that newer, innovative practices are not being sufficiently integrated into the military medical system.

One such innovative practice is systems medicine. By more rapidly and accurately quantifying wellness and deciphering disease, systems medicine will promote translational research by linking the Department's research and development programs, initiatives, and laboratories with its clinical care programs, initiatives and facilities.

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Mr. DICKS. I ask the chairman to join me in urging the Department to implement systems medicine into the medical practices of all service branches.

To facilitate the training of DOD medical personnel in systems medicine, the Defense Department should consider systems medicine pilot projects that address post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and amputee health, along with other high-priority concerns that impact all aspects of total readiness, including mental resilience.

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Mr. DICKS. The three of you have grayer hair than I do, and that means you have wisdom and experience along with it.

I just want to say that I've enjoyed working with all three of you. Bill Young and I have worked together for many years. Jerry Lewis and I have worked together many years. We've taken many trips to Afghanistan and Iraq to try to be with the troops and find out what was going on. We've had a good group.

It bothers me greatly when there's this sense out there that we can't work together. This committee works together. I'm proud of that, and I'm proud to be associated with my colleagues.

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Mr. DICKS. One issue that didn't come up today was this question of what are we going to do at the end of this year with sequestration, and there was some discussion of an amendment that didn't happen because of points of order and other possible reasons.

I really believe that somehow we've got to avoid sequestration and that collectively we've got to work together in the next several months, because I honestly believe that the economy of this country will be severely and adversely affected if we allow sequestration not just for defense, which we're talking about here today, but for the other part of the government, the discretionary domestic part of the government. We have got to avoid this.

I would love to see an agreement reached between the parties and between the leadership so that we can get an agreement that is fair and balanced and equitable. I think with the four of us and a couple of others I can think of, I think we could put something like that together. Somehow it's got to happen, because the consequences to defense--and not only to defense, but the economy of the country is at stake here.

The CBO says that the difference in growth, if we do sequestration, if we don't deal with the tax issue, will go from 4.4 percent to 5 percent. It is a 4 1/2 percent difference in economic growth. That means unemployment will be greater. That means the deficit will be greater. The whole idea of the Budget Control Act was to get the deficit under control.

Again, I hope that we will all continue to think about how we can come up with a solution that's bipartisan, bicameral. We have got to work with the administration. From a national security and a defense perspective, there is nothing more treacherous out there than sequestration. We've got to avoid it.

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

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