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Providing For Consideration Of H.R. 2647, National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I cannot remember the last time I was as deeply disappointed in the actions of people with whom I generally agree and continue to admire as I am by this rule.

President Obama, to his credit, has become the first President to try to put on to military spending the same kind of notion that resources are limited that people apply elsewhere. Military spending, in which old threats are continued to be dealt with while new threats are dealt with, make it impossible for us to talk about curtailing a deficit without doing damage elsewhere.

To his credit, President Obama and Secretary Gates said we do not need to build more F-22s. It was conceived to defeat the Soviet Union in a war. It's over. It's a wonderful weapon. It just has a terrible defect for a weapon--no enemy, no military mission. It will never be fired in anger.

It is bad enough that the committee, by only a 31-30 vote, undercut this President's effort to begin to apply fiscal discipline everywhere. Sure, military is important, but health care is important and highway safety is important and local police are important. All of those impinge on our life and all must be dealt with in discipline in the fiscal area, except military gets a pass.

I was particularly disappointed when the Rules Committee, because of some in the leadership, decided not even to allow us to debate it. A major initiative of the new President to curtail excess military spending is overturned by one vote in committee, and we are not even allowed to debate it.

And I have to say to my Republican friends, it is clear to me that their interest in open debate is very selective. They are for openly debating anything they want to debate, but they were opposed to this amendment coming on as well. So there's no consistency or principle of: Let's have open debate. It's: Let's get what we want and let's forget about the rest.

It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war. Apparently, intellectual integrity and logical consistency are the first casualties of a military bill.

I heard Members say a few months ago, Oh, an economic recovery program. Federal spending can't bring jobs. Federal Government spending adds to the deficit. It doesn't bring jobs.

Lo and behold, the F-22 became a jobs bill. It's what I call weaponized Keynesianism. Only if you're building weapons, particularly weapons that will never be used, is there a stimulative effect in the economy.


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. If the gentleman yields me time, I will.

Secondly, we are told that we have to deal with the deficit. The President made a beginning in trying to curtail military spending on weapons he said we do not need. If this bill goes through, as it apparently will, because we could not even debate it, his efforts will be undercut. The floodgates will be open, and any effort to have reasonable constraints on military spending, as we have on police and fire and emergency medical and other things that are important for health and safety, will be undercut.

This is a terrible decision and a terrible precedent. Of course, to add injury to injury, they did it by taking money out of environmental cleanup.


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