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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, thank you for yielding me the time.

Madam Chair, I rise in strong support of our Defense appropriations bill. Under Chairman Young's leadership and collaboration and strong support from Mr. Visclosky, our committee held a lengthy series of hearings examining varied topics: our operations in Afghanistan, the so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific, the Army and Air Force's need for modernization, Navy shipbuilding, marine end strength, military health care, acquisition reform, sexual assaults, among other important issues, and, of course, the impact of the sequester, the negative impact.

Most of our hearings related to reducing risk in the defense budget and the new strategic guidance from the Department of Defense--protecting our gains as well as preparing for current and future threats--China's growing military capability; continued uncertainty in North Korea and that peninsula; the destabilizing civil war in Syria; Iran's race to develop a nuclear weapons capability and their threat to close the Straits of Hormuz, among others.

Our goal throughout this bill is to provide the resources to support our warfighters now and in the future, whenever the next crisis arises.

Madam Chairman, our subcommittee, like other Appropriations subcommittees, clearly recognizes the Nation's debt and deficit and found areas and programs where reductions are possible without adversely impacting our Armed Forces and our modernization efforts. Frankly, it is important that we find savings without harming readiness or increasing the risks incurred by our warfighters.

Under Chairman Young's leadership, our committee has had a close examination of military needs and very necessary oversight, so our legislation before us includes funding for critical national security and intelligence needs based on a very strong hearing process. In addition, the bill provides essential funding for health and quality of life programs for all of our men and women in uniform--all volunteers--and their families. They deserve nothing less.

I want to thank the chairman and the ranking member for their leadership, and I strongly support the bill.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Let me associate myself with your remarks. Respectfully, we need to assure we have a relationship with the Pakistani Government to make sure that their nuclear weapons capacity is well secured.

And while polls may reflect, as the gentleman says, a very poor view by Americans of Pakistan, we need their support and cooperation not only for the 68,000 troops we have there but the international forces that are working with our troops to help the people of Afghanistan have a better life.

So yes, there may be corruption and there may be ill will among the Pakistani people, in our view, of our involvement over there, but we need to, as we exit Pakistan, to make sure that we get our forces out of there using the road network. Otherwise, we'll have to take a lot of our supplies and men by air, and that would be enormously expensive. We need to keep a good relationship with the Pakistani Government.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I thank the ranking member for yielding to me.

I rise to oppose the gentleman's amendment.

Mr. Chairman, according to the President's own budget request:

The Afghan Infrastructure Fund has been an invaluable resource in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Initiated in fiscal year 2011, the AIF funds infrastructure projects in Afghanistan that are a key feature of the counterinsurgency strategy and the civil-military strategic framework endorsed by the commander, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan to lock in security gains and maintain stability by providing basic, essential infrastructure of the people of Afghanistan.

Mr. Chairman, in other words, these projects that would be eliminated or reduced are vital to protecting our currently deployed troops and civilian employees besides the Afghanis themselves, and that is a worthy investment. We still have 68,000 troops over there, a lot of civilians supporting the effort, contractors even, and a lot of international forces. They deserve this protection. This is a good long-term investment.

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