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Sequestration: The Destruction of the United States Military

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Well, I appreciate the gentleman from Texas taking up this particular issue. I promise you, you will get a few minutes here to finish this one up here as well.

I will start just by moving off where we are for just 1 second and going back to my real love, which is still baseball. If you recall, back in 1962 they created the amazing New York Mets, a team that set the standard for ineptitude in professional sports. Anyone who wants to seek that, to fall that low, now has a perfect standard by which to judge your effectiveness in becoming bad.

The New York Mets, in 1962, lost 120 out of 160 games. That's the standard by which people now judge themselves. And it's amazing to think of how the leadership of the New York Mets could cobble together a team of athletes so inept at working together as a particular team, leaving such luminary names as Jay Hook and Ken MacKenzie, Choo Choo Coleman and Hobie Landrith there together.

Probably the best of all those names was Marvelous Marv Throneberry, a big first baseman who I think, in his third year with the Mets, actually hit a triple, which is amazing considering he's not really one of those fast runners. But as he was rounding the bases going to third, he missed second base, which was spotted by the opposing team. So they waited until the play was back in, called for the ball, stepped on second base, and he was out.

Well, obviously Casey Stengel went running out there to complain about this and argued the case up and down and lost, and Throneberry was out. As Stengel went back to the dugout, he passed the first base coach, Cookie Lavagetto, and said, ``Why weren't you out there at least arguing with me?'' And Cookie looked at him and said, ``Because he missed first base, too.'' And that was the end of the discussion.

Now, eventually, the management was able to take the amazing '62 Mets and turn them into the miracle '69 Mets that were the world champions. But the administration of the Mets had to do some fancy work to do that.

The situation we have right now is where we have an administration in this country that is doing that same kind of work that the Mets leadership did, except in reverse. We are going from the '69 Mets back to the '62 Mets, an administration that took over the best defense, the best military in the world and is, bit by bit, pulling it down to the form of mediocrity, even to the level of the '62 amazing New York Mets.

We have faced three potential cuts to the military. With the first one, then-Secretary of Defense Gates said, If you go beyond this first $600 billion cut, it could have devastating effects. This administration took a second cut beyond it, and now what the gentleman from Texas is talking about is the potential for a third cut to the military.

Now, what has been the net effect of this administration's efforts on behalf of defense altogether? Well, for the first time, there are 50 major defense programs that have been canceled. This is the first time there is not a single aircraft modernization going on in this country. And if you consider the fact that modernization takes between 10 and 20 years to effect, that means regardless of what happens in November, this country is without a new modernization program for our aircraft for at least two decades after President Obama leaves the White House.

We were spending 4 percent of our GDP on military before this President came in. We're now down to 2.5 percent. That is the percent we have been complaining about our allies in Europe spending, and that compares to 6 percent under Reagan, 10 percent under Kennedy, 12 percent during Korea, 35 percent during World War II.

We have platforms in our military that are over 25 years of age and are not getting any younger. We have the smallest Army since World War II. We have the smallest Navy since World War I. In World War II, we had over 6,000 ships; today, we have 280.

We will have the smallest Air Force ever. Several years ago, two of our F-15Cs literally broke in flight and two F-18s caught fire while on the aircraft carrier. Our A-10 Warthogs have cracks in the fuselage. We only have one fifth-generation fighter in production while the Chinese and the Russians have a combined 12 fighter and bomber lines open for business.

We are moving the defense of this country backwards into an area that is frighteningly fearful. We are going from the '69 to the '62 Mets when we should be trying to go in the opposite direction, and that's what happens before sequestration goes into effect.

If, indeed, we add the sequestration--a third cut on top of the other two--we will do what the Secretary of Defense has said: We will hollow out our military. We will put our defense at danger--not just the defense of this country but, as was previously mentioned, the jobs that are in the private sector--the military base, the industrial base that help us defend ourselves, and we will take away from the table the potential of foreign affairs options that we have.

Our ability two decades from today to conduct foreign policy is dependent on the decisions we make now to define and have an adequate military backup for what we need to do. These are the decisions we need to be making, and it is essential that we recognize what we are doing now is wrong.

To change and reverse our defense cuts even for 1 year would take $109 billion. But, oddly enough, that is 1 month of borrowing that is being done by this administration.

We can't afford this sequestration as a country. And I find it sad that the President of the United States will actually say that he will veto any effort to get rid of these automatic spending cuts, using the defense of this country as a hostage in a high-stakes battle with Congress over what our future tax policy will be. That is not what a good administration should be doing. That is not what this country needs. We need to do something different.

I appreciate the gentleman from Texas allowing me to rant a little on this particular issue. This is important to every American. This affects not just what we're doing today but what happens two decades from this day, when we are probably long gone from this body.

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Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I thank the gentleman again, and I would just like to reiterate a couple of things that he has said and build on those points that are there. It is extremely important to realize that we are about the people's business, and we are doing the constitutionally required things that a Congress ought to do.

You know, we all say that it is significant, that we do have a problem with our budget. Which is true. We all recognize that. But there are certain core constitutional responsibilities that were given by the Founding Fathers to Congress to make sure that we maintained those responsibilities in those areas. The Constitution tells us that we have the responsibility to promote general welfare, which is nice. We probably don't understand what they meant by general welfare anymore, but we are to promote it. But we have the obligation to provide for the common defense. And that verb differentiation was not done by accident by those who wrote the Constitution. It is the mandate that this Congress has to provide for the common defense, not simply because it's a fun thing to do, but because it defends this country, and it provides our ability to do foreign policy in the future as well as providing some jobs for people who are necessary to make sure that this happens.

I reiterate what we said earlier. This sequestration is not a simple decrease or cut to the military. It would be the third major cut to the military. Remember, we cut, number one, $600 billion, at which time the Secretary of Defense said you cannot go much more than that. And then this administration put another cut, number two, of $400 billion. And now if sequestration were to go through, were the President to follow through on his threat to veto any legislation that would stop the sequestration, it would be cut number three of an additional $600 billion. And that is what everybody who works with the system says would destroy and hollow out our military, and we would be in violation of our constitutional obligations to provide for the common defense.

Now, I am actually fairly proud of the House. We have on several occasions sent legislation over to the Senate that would stop this process and make sure that this core constitutional responsibility we have is actually fulfilled by Congress and we do not let this cut number three, sequestration, go into effect.

Right now, they are sitting on Senator Reid's desk. He needs to take up the responsibility of putting those to a vote and passing that legislation and putting this on the desk of the President, who needs to take up his responsibility as Commander in Chief and pass those bills and make sure that these devastating cuts, which as the gentleman from Texas quite correctly said, would hollow out our military, would be devastating to our military posture, not just for today, but for decades to come; make sure that those do not go into effect and those are properly signed by the President and properly passed by Congress.

The House has done our share. The House has done our responsibility. I need to call upon the Senate now to pick up the mantle and do their part of this effort to make sure that we defend this country, as we ought to.

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Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I'm just grateful to the gentleman from Texas for actually broaching this issue. Jobs are important, but it's not just jobs for the sake of creating a job. This is a job that is essential for the defense of this country. This is our constitutional responsibility, and we need to take that seriously.

Sequestration is basically, as you said I think at the very beginning, it's not what was planned here; it just kind of happened. It was a failed policy that happened. Now is the time to actually become adults about this and recognize that sequestration will not only destroy jobs, but it will destroy the defense of this country; and our responsibility is to make sure we defend this country and give every capability that when we send somebody into harm's way they have the equipment that is necessary to make sure they come back successfully.

We don't want a fair fight. We want America to have the best equipment, and that flat out won't happen if we go through this big cut number three that we call ``sequestration.''

I thank the gentleman for allowing me to say something about this important issue, and I thank you for bringing it to the attention of the American people, sir.

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