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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. DICKS. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the fiscal year 2013 Department of Defense bill.

I first want to thank Chairman Young for his very generous comments about my service on the Defense Subcommittee. And he is absolutely right, we have always, no matter who was chairman or which party was in control, we've always, on a bipartisan basis, worked to take care of the needs of our troops to make sure that we were properly funded in equipment and to do it on the basis of what was right and what was necessary. I appreciate his leadership of this subcommittee, and I wish him well as we finish up this year.

This bill continues the Defense Subcommittee's long tradition, as I mentioned, of bipartisanship and finding common ground as members work together, under Mr. Young's leadership, to provide for the Department of Defense. I'm pleased to report that the subcommittee has again crafted a bill that places national security and the needs of U.S. servicemembers above partisan politics.

I strongly support the priorities set in this bill. The bill supports our troops. It includes funding for the third consecutive year to replace inadequate schools owned by local educational authorities and the Department of Education that are located on military installations.

It includes $40 million above the request for Impact Aid.

It includes $125 million above the request for traumatic brain injury and psychological health, as well as an additional $20 million above the request for suicide prevention and outreach.

And the bill has a total of $1.2 billion in Defense Health Program research and development, $545 million above the request.

The bill continues the committee's longstanding support for peer-reviewed breast cancer research, peer-reviewed prostate cancer research, vision research, spinal cord research, and many other medical research initiatives.

The bill supports the Guard and Reserve. It includes funding to pause force structure reductions and aircraft retirements proposed by the Air Force that would affect Air Guard and Reserve units across the country.

And the bill contains $2 billion for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account.

The bill supports today's equipment needs and develops tomorrow's technology. It supports Secretary Panetta's strategic focus on the Asia-Pacific region by including robust funding for shipbuilding and the Patriot missile defense system.

The bill supports DOD's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance needs by providing the resources for Global Hawk UAVs.

The bill addresses the Navy's strike fighter shortfall by funding F-18 Hornets and providing advance procurement for F-18G electronic attack aircraft.

The bill provides for ground equipment such as the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and HMMWV modernization. This funding provides for Army equipment needs, including the Guard and Reserve, and helps maintain a stable industrial base.

The bill includes $250 million for the Rapid Innovation Fund that will continue the committee's efforts, started in 2011, to promote innovative research and defense technologies among small businesses; and the bill includes funding above the request for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense activities, including $680 million for Iron Dome.

The bill funds operations in Afghanistan consistent with the President's plan to wind down our presence as agreed to in the Lisbon Accord of 2010 and this year's NATO summit in Chicago.

The bill also includes important restrictions on DOD activities. The bill prohibits permanent U.S. bases in Iraq or Afghanistan and prohibits U.S. control over Iraqi oil resources. The bill prohibits the torture of detainees. The bill prohibits training foreign military forces if these forces are known to commit gross violations of human rights. And the bill limits reimbursements to Pakistan until the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, certifies that Pakistan is working cooperatively with the U.S. against terrorist activity.

While I support the funding level and priorities included in this bill, I must also express my objection, not to Mr. Young, but to the majority decision to renege on the bipartisan agreement reached less than a year ago in the Budget Control Act. I believe the reduced discretionary allocation in the Ryan budget threatens to stall economic growth and job creation; and in the near term, it introduces uncertainty in our appropriations process that imperils our ability to produce these bills in a timely manner.

Accordingly, it is my belief that we could save a considerable amount of time in the appropriations process if we simply returned to the agreement reached last year in August, the $1.047 trillion allocation level for this year, a level which even the Republican other body leadership concedes is where we will eventually end up.

Despite this reservation, I want to congratulate Chairman Young for producing a bill that meets the most pressing needs of the Department of Defense, and for doing so in the best tradition of the Appropriations Committee.

And I must say that I feel we have one of the best staffs on the whole Hill. And I know Paul and Tom have worked together when Paul was the clerk and Tom was representing Mr. Young as the ranking member. And the cooperation of all the staff members has been extraordinary, and they've worked very hard to prepare this bill for the floor, and I want to congratulate them on their good efforts.

Also, I want to thank Mr. Rogers for his efforts to restore regular order. I think it's outstanding that we have had this bill in a subcommittee markup, a full committee markup, now brought to the floor under an open rule. This is the way this committee should operate, and I appreciate his efforts to provide that leadership.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. To my good friend from California, I appreciate the attention that you bring to this issue. It seems that this is a commonsense thing that the Department can do to save millions of dollars with no negative impact to the security clearance process. Requiring DOD security reinvestigators to use the Automated Continuing Evaluation System, ACES, tool will preserve national security despite the tight budget constraints that the DOD is facing.

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Mr. DICKS. This amendment seeks to add more funding to purchase equipment vital to the disaster mission of the Air National Guard.

Recently, forest fires have been devastating Colorado, and the Air National Guard has been fighting alongside the Forest Service. The Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, provides emergency capability to supplement existing commercial tanker support on wildland fires. This system aids the Forest Service. When all other air tankers are activated but further assistance is needed, the Forest Service can request help from the Air Force's MAFFS unit, who can be ready in a few hours notice with this modular system.

When the Air National Guard adds the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System to their C-130 aircraft, they are adding another capability to their aircraft. Creating a dual-mission aircraft without major modifications to an existing piece of equipment is efficient and cost effective.

Quite frankly, we need to get new C-130Js for the Guard. I hope that we can do that. That's been a problem we've had with OMB over the scoring on this, whether you can lease them or buy them. This is an interim step, which is a good one, and I think we should accept the gentleman's amendment.

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

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Mr. DICKS. I would also support the gentleman in efforts to find another less objectionable source for the funding.

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Mr. DICKS. I agree with the chairman. This Gulf War Illness has been something that bothered me a great deal. This was a very difficult diagnosis, what was causing this. But I think an additional investment here is worthy, and I think we should accept the amendment. I'm glad the chairman accepts it.

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Mr. DICKS. With all due respect, we have accepted the gentleman's previous amendment. On this one we have already added $20 million to the budget for this purpose, and we will, if necessary, go higher in conference because of the gentleman's concern, the chairman's concern, and my concern. But to totally eliminate funding for the Pentagon Channel, I think, is a mistake. There's very valuable information that is received by the military, by the Congress, by everybody who watches this thing.

It's the source of the amendment. So I would ask the gentleman if he would withdraw the amendment and then work with us and we will do the best we can to get to a higher level in conference.

Mr. KUCINICH. The short answer is yes.

Mr. DICKS. This has become the issue of this war, when more people are dying of suicide than are in combat. We don't want to lose any lives. It means that there is a serious problem. And we want to work with you to address that.

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Mr. DICKS. Reclaiming my time just for the moment, the point is we have also added money for traumatic brain injury, for posttraumatic stress disorder. Our subcommittee has been at the forefront of providing additional resources beyond the administration's request for a number of years, since this has become a major issue. But I would just ask the gentleman to try to work with us on this one because of the source issue, and we'll work together and do the best we can.

Mr. KUCINICH. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. DICKS. I yield to the gentleman from Ohio.

Mr. KUCINICH. I have confidence in the good faith of the chairman and the ranking member. I know that you're both concerned about this, you've said so now, but I also know that you've demonstrated this at other times. So what I would ask is that we could work together to look at the amount that is in there programatically right now, find a way to plus it up so that we can make sure that the people on Active Duty and those that just left Active Duty know about programs, have access to programs, and have access to the kind of treatment that would be necessary to cut down the number of suicides.

In view of this colloquy, I will withdraw the amendment. Again, I thank both gentlemen.

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Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this amendment. I commend my friend from Rhode Island for his efforts in this regard, and I just hope that this research will be successful. I know with his leadership, it will be.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. I just want to concur. I think this is a deserving amendment. We cannot do enough on these issues because this is going to have a lifetime effect on these people; and the more we do, as they come home, and even before they go to find out who is susceptible, this is critically important and will save us a lot of money.

We will accept the amendment on our side.

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Mr. DICKS. The committee recognizes the serious trouble of traumatic brain injury, as you just noted, and related conditions; and I'm happy to work with the gentleman from New Jersey to improve understanding of this important issue as we confer with the other body and work with our majority Members here who are deeply concerned, as we are, about this amendment.

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Mr. DICKS. I concur with the chairman and want to say to the gentleman from Minnesota, we appreciate his service to the country. You know a lot more about this than some of us who were not in the service, and we appreciate your leadership on this issue.

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Mr. DICKS. I rise in strong opposition to this amendment. The Rapid Innovation Fund was authorized and appropriated by Congress in 2011 to allow innovative small businesses to compete for funding within the Department of Defense. It is a competitive, merit-based program designed to accelerate the fielding of innovative technologies into military systems.

Last fall, each service and the OSBP issued broad agency announcements to solicit proposals for the first round of funding worth $500 million. Of the 3,554 white papers received, 514 received high priority or strong evaluations, valued at about $700 million.

This bill provides an additional $250 million for this successful program for small businesses that are interested in working with the Department of Defense. Also, this money can be used for joint urgent operational needs. This is when the commanders in the field say that they need something in an urgent way, and this money is available for that kind of requirement.

So, again, the gentleman raises a lot of insinuations that this was done because of doing away with the earmarks. It was done because we feel that small businesses in this country have a lot to offer the Defense Department. Not all of the innovations come from Lockheed and Boeing and General Dynamics. A lot of the innovation comes from smaller businesses who are, in essence, going to be cut out. We already have an existing program, the SBIR program, which we wanted to enhance so that small businesses would have a place to go so they could compete, where we would be doing this on a merits basis, that we would be doing it on the services saying these are areas where we need additional work.

So I'm somewhat surprised that the gentleman would oppose something like this, knowing, I'm certain, he's an advocate for small businesses in our country. I think this is a good program and one that should be supported on a bipartisan basis.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. DICKS. I really appreciate what the gentleman just said. Another thing here, the gentleman is saying they should just rush out and spend this money. I don't mind a thorough, professional way of going about this, and to take some time to make sure they've got this right is what we want them to do.

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Mr. DICKS. I want to commend the gentleman for his efforts here and my colleague from Washington State who I know has an abiding concern about this, as I do.

This is a tragedy when more people are dying from suicide than are in combat. I know the Army has tried. General Corelli made an enormous effort to try to find the answers, and it's a serious, difficult problem. And a lot of it relies on trying to deal with these people before they go over so that you can find the ones that are going to be susceptible or have problems going in. It's just a very difficult problem.

I commend the gentleman for his leadership on this.

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Mr. DICKS. I want to compliment the gentleman on listening to what we discussed in the last go-around and then taking a hard look at land-based ICBMs, which I believe have always been the most vulnerable part of the triad. The most invulnerable part, of course, is our ballistic missile submarine--and bombers are second--but the land-based ICBMs are vulnerable. There is no question about that, and I do believe we can reduce the amount of money we are spending on strategic forces. I think the focus should be, as General Cartwright has suggested, on reducing the ICBMs.

So this is a way to start this debate, and I am going to support the gentleman's amendment today.

Mr. MARKEY. I just want to note here that the gentleman from Washington State did pioneering work in the 1980s in identifying the vulnerability of the land-based ICBM fleet. That discussion continues even today out here on the House floor.

Mr. DICKS. I recall--and you might remember--that we had a great discussion about synergism, about the synergy of the three legs of the triad giving some protection to the land-based missiles.

I agree with the gentleman's overall premise that we don't need as many nuclear weapons. I can remember John Lehman--famous for his 600-ship Navy--always saying to me, if you want to cut something, cut the submarines, and go ahead with the aircraft carriers and more airplanes because they're conventional weapons and, therefore, more usable.

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Mr. DICKS. So what you are saying is you have got to have a competitive procedure.

Mr. FLAKE. That's correct.

Mr. DICKS. This is, I think, what we tried to do a few years ago on defense-related--with private companies is to have a competitive procedure, which I agree with. I think the gentleman is right on this. I appreciate his amendment.

Mr. FLAKE. I thank the gentleman.

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Mr. DICKS. The House has spoken on this issue repeatedly. There's been a very substantial majority in favor of retaining Davis-Bacon and opposing the gentleman's amendment.

Some Members continue to try to repeal Davis-Bacon, despite the House record of supporting the protection on labor standards. I have been a longtime supporter of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements. It helps ensure that local projects provide local jobs with affordable middle class wages.

The law protects the government from contractors trying to win Federal contracts by bidding too low to attract competent workers. And we have seen time and time again where you have prevailing wages. The State of Washington has its own prevailing wage standard in our State; and we find that on these projects, you get better work and the work is done at a higher quality.

So, again, I oppose this amendment. And as I said, we have had several votes on this this year, and every time it's been defeated. I hope that we can again defeat the King amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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