Representative C.W. Bill Young chaired a hearing of his Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to take testimony from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey and Mr. Robert Hale, the Department of Defense Comptroller, about the President's 2014 budget request for the Department of Defense.
Although the Committee has had several hearings already this year, Tuesday's hearing kicked off the committee's extensive review of the President's budget request and priorities and will include future hearings with each of the service chiefs and combatant commanders.
Young opened the hearing by thanking "our service men and women who continue to unfailingly defend this Nation and for that we are grateful." He reminded the witnesses and his colleagues on the committee that the "decisions made in the fiscal year 2014 budget today may well impact the Department for several years to come. We owe it to our servicemembers to make well-informed and conscientious decisions."
During the hearing, Representative Young raised with Secretary Hagel a decision by the Department of Defense to eliminate one the two Florida National Guard Civil Support Teams, based in Clearwater at the St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport. This unit, which is trained to respond to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction, was to cease operations in late June. Secretary Hagel committed to Young that the unit would remain open and operational and that the 2014 budget will include funding to allow the unit to continue its operations. The importance of these Civil Support Teams was highlighted this week when members of the New York National Guard team responded to the Boston Marathon bombing, where twin blasts killed three people and wounded more than 200. "Congress is very, very supportive of these teams and I am pleased that the Pentagon has reversed their decision," Young said. "As we saw Monday, the role that they play in providing assistance following biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear incidents is of the utmost importance."