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Providing for Consideration of H.R. National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman. I thank the Committee on Armed Services for the hard work they did to produce this bill. I am not going to support it.

The most important function that we have is to make certain that America is secure. Our defense authorization bill is a major component of that, but I believe this bill fails in some fundamental respects.

Number one, the budget is very large. We are approaching $700 billion. But throwing money at a problem does not solve a problem. What we are doing as we throw more money at a problem without making hard decisions is we generate and accept as inevitable an immense amount of inefficiency.

Number two, there is an overreliance on the OCO funding. First of all, OCO, off budget, should be debated, and it should be appropriated. It should be subject to all budget caps. But to then begin using it not just for overseas contingency operations but to actually invest in major weapons systems is a gross mistake that is just going to lead to a weaker budgeting system that is essential, in my view, to our national security.

Of that OCO funding, money would be used for weapon systems like the F/A-18E Super Hornet and the F-35. The $35 billion in the OCO authorization is for war requirements, including dollar amounts in the millions.

Now, the other issue with respect to OCO--and another failure in this bill--is we are once again continuing to have military operations--this country is at war--without having any debate on an Authorization for Use of Military Force. That should be part of it.

Third, we have significant issues in NATO. As the Speaker and my colleague, the chairman, know, NATO is absolutely essential to our defense. But the time for the United States to be bearing as big a burden for that defense has come to a conclusion.

We will bear the majority of the expense, but the commitment on our NATO allies is to reach 2 percent of their gross domestic product in defense spending. If our NATO allies are not doing that, we are asking the American taxpayer to do it. These are mature democracies. They have stable economies. It is about time that we asked for this to absolutely happen.

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Mr. WELCH. The real fundamental question for us is whether or not in this defense budget we are going to ask what are the fundamental strategic necessities of the United States to be in a strong posture to defend itself.

The approach of just throwing more money and maintaining weapons systems that our military is not even asking for, of blinking on the question of personnel review--all of these things are just postponed for another day. They need to be faced today.

So, Mr. Speaker, I thank the committee for its work, but I will not be supporting this bill.

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