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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Chairman, I thank my friend for yielding, and I would like to thank and congratulate him and Chairman McKeon and their outstanding staffs for first-rate work and leadership on this issue.

This bill is an example of a properly resourced and properly thought-out plan that would serve the interests of those who serve us. As we meet tonight, there are America's best sons and daughters stationed around the world in dangerous and often lonely places who are defending our freedom and doing us proud every single day. I do believe this budget plan is one that gives them the tools and the support that they need. It has many good things to recommend it.

But I wish it were actually going to take effect, because the fact of the matter is unless this Congress acts, this plan will never take effect. Instead, it will be about $50 billion shy of the resources that we're going to debate and vote on this week.

Mr. Chairman, I think the whole House would be well-served by following the example by which this legislation was put together. Led by Chairman McKeon and Mr. Smith, there was open, transparent, substantive dialogue throughout this process. Members on both sides of the aisle met for--my goodness, was it 16 hours, 18 hours, it seemed like longer, and any idea that any Member had was brought to the body, was vigorously debated, and either approved or disapproved. There was an open process that led to a good piece of legislation.

This is exactly the opposite of what we've done on the sequestration problem. There have been backroom meetings. There have been high-level discussions, and absolutely nothing has happened. This, frankly, is a bipartisan responsibility of a national problem.

I think that what is incumbent upon us doing here is the budget that has passed this Chamber and the budget that has passed the other body should be brought to a conference, and our body should select our conferees, and I'm sure the other body will select its, and they will thrash out this process and, I hope, come to a resolution of this mindless, harmful sequestration process.

About a third of our Navy and Air Force planes aren't flying training missions because of sequestration. There's intelligence training for intelligence units throughout the services not being done because of sequestration. Important research and development, deferred maintenance on our capital stock, isn't being done because of this problem.

We have spent hours in this Chamber accusing each other of whose fault it is that we are in this box. I, frankly, think the American people are tired of hearing whose fault it is and are ready to see this problem resolved.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I thank my friend.

The way to solve this problem is to emulate the example Chairman McKeon and Mr. Smith have given us: have a fair, transparent, open process; debate the issues; make some difficult choices. There are other difficult choices yet to make because of the amendments that are forthcoming.

When the Members are given the chance to act in regular order, we can solve problems. Let's have that full and open debate on sequestration; and some day the plan that we're going to pass this week will actually take effect.

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