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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 - Resumed

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, let me just briefly describe my amendment. This will not take very long, but I think it is an important movement in the right direction. It has come to my attention that the CR, probably for a variety of reasons, underfunds the DOD's operations and maintenance account relative to what the Army staff certainly has requested--actually to the tune of $2 billion relative to what the Army staff would prefer. This affects salaries, vital maintenance, and combat training. It affects certainly skilled defense contractors, employees, at our military facilities.

Obviously, we have very significant maintenance requirements for the very sophisticated equipment on which our troops rely, and so this is a very important account. The operations and maintenance account also includes training exercises that help make sure our forces are the best in the world.

Unfortunately, at the same time that we are underfunding this account, we are also spending money on alternative energy at DOD that is of very dubious value, in my mind. We have much more affordable energy than the kinds of energy we require the DOD to use, in some instances. And what this amendment would do is provide a modest transfer of $60 million from the DOD's account from the Pentagon biofuels program and allow that money to go over to the operations and maintenance account.

Now, I know there are some people who are big fans of spending money to develop biofuels and build the plants and refineries that create these biofuels. I would point out this is a much more expensive source of fuel than alternatives already readily available, and so I would ask a more basic question: If we believe this is a good and appropriate activity, wouldn't it be better to handle this at the Department of Energy rather than take the precious resources from our Defense Department and have it spent on the construction of plants for biofuel capability?

I think it makes more sense to move this over to the operations and maintenance account, and that is what my amendment does.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I know there are people who are very passionately interested in developing any kind of alternative energy. I would just suggest there are research facilities where that is probably appropriate. I suppose the Department of Energy might be a candidate. But the kind of biofuels that are generated cost far more than conventional fuels. We have a tremendous volume of conventional fuels, and it is a savings to be able to use conventional fuels.

In this case, my suggestion is that this money goes to where it is vitally needed, in the operations and maintenance accounts. But I would like to discuss with the Senator from Illinois the concern he has about a budget point of order, so I will suggest the absence of a quorum.

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