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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 - Conference Report

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. HAGAN. I thank Senator Murray. I was proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support efforts across the federal government that will help provide our military with the strategic advantages it needs to remain atop the world's powers.

A critical component to achieving this goal is to ensure that the Department of Defense is not solely dependent on one fuel source.

Mr. President, the Department of Defense is committed to addressing this critical national security risk, and is taking a joint approach to do so. In August 2011, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Navy signed a memorandum of understanding to invest $170 million each to spur the production of advanced aviation and marine biofuels under the Defense Production Act.

This joint MOU also requires substantial investment from the private sector, with at least a 1-to-1 match.

Our senior military leaders understand that programs such as this MOU are critical to national security. In July, the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Marine Corps Commandant expressed their concern to Chairman Levin:

``The demand for fuel in theater means we depend on vulnerable supply lines, the protection of which puts lives at risk. Our potential adversaries both on land and at sea understand this critical vulnerability and seek to exploit it.''

Given the importance of this MOU to our national security, I was disappointed when an amendment was adopted by one vote during the Senate Armed Services Committee mark-up that would prevent the Navy from participating further in the MOU. When the bill was considered on the Senate floor, I, along with a group of my colleagues, offered an amendment to strike this provision.

Mr. President, I was pleased when my amendment passed in a bipartisan manner with 54 votes. I believe it sent an important message to conferees.

However, I was very disappointed to see that although the conference report does not prohibit further involvement in the MOU by DOD, it does restrict the Department's participation in construction of alternative fuel refineries until the other agencies contribute matching funds.

However, I have been assured by Chairman Levin that the conference committee intends for this restriction to only apply to fiscal year 2013 funds. It would not constrain fiscal year 2012 funds in any way. I ask Chairman Levin, is that correct?

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