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Mr. WITTMAN. Mr. Chairman, I would like to begin by thanking Chairman McKeon for his leadership and Ranking Member Smith for the extraordinary job that both of you gentlemen have done in bringing this bill together--bringing people together to make this happen. I also want to thank the ranking member of the Readiness Subcommittee. Madeleine Bordallo, thank you so much for your leadership and for your cooperation to make our effort on the Readiness Subcommittee as successful as it was.
Today, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1960, the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. While this bill will not fix all of the Nation's readiness challenges, it does go far in addressing depleted force readiness levels and associated levels of assumed risk.
Specifically, the bill prohibits the Department from proposing, planning, or initiating another round of base realignment and closure commission elements--a measure that's critical, in my view, given the fiscal uncertainties we face as a Nation.
This bill helps our military members by restoring vital readiness accounts, such as the Army and Air Force flying programs; increasing funding for facility sustainment; increasing funding for Army depot maintenance and rest; increasing funding for ship depot maintenance; and prohibiting the retirement of amphibs and cruisers the Navy proposed to retire 10 to 15 years early.
With successive rounds of budget cuts and the disastrous effects of sequestration, readiness rates remain at historic levels, and these levels are unacceptably low. Our warfighters are at risk, and we owe it to them to make sure that we put dollars back to make sure that the readiness of our Armed Forces does not in any way suffer. We want to make sure that our men and women have what they need, making sure that they continue to have overwhelming superiority on the battlefield. That's what this Nation has always done. It is our obligation to make sure that that continues.
While we have restored the Air Force and Army flying hours programs and bolstered facilities sustainment and depot maintenance, we will need to remain focused on readiness challenges in the months and years to come. Those readiness challenges will continue. Especially as we retrograde from Afghanistan and reset our force, we cannot forget the need to maintain readiness.
As I close, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the members of the subcommittee and the staff for their unyielding support for the men and women of our military. Our Nation faces many challenges, as this bill makes clear.
I want to remind this Chamber that we owe a debt of gratitude to those who selflessly serve our Nation--those who volunteer to put themselves in harm's way.
That's what makes our Nation great. We owe them the highest amount of respect in getting this bill done in their best interest.
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