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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HIMES. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today to speak on behalf of my amendment to H.R. 1540. The underlying text of the National Defense Authorization Act calls for the shift of certain inherently governmental functions, currently being performed by contractors, to civilian employees within the Department of Defense.

My amendment is simple. It requires that any cost savings achieved by this transfer be used for deficit reduction. I'm going to say that again. Any cost savings associated with shifting work from contractors to civilian employees will get used for deficit reduction.

Reaching the debt limit last week was a stark reminder of the consequences of ballooning spending throughout the Federal Government, including defense spending. Committing cost savings to deficit reduction is the first step toward returning to a fiscally sustainable budget. By reducing
the deficit with identified savings from the Department of Defense, we will help to ensure that we have enough to invest in education, infrastructure, and job-creating priorities that we all share while cutting spending to reduce the deficit.

This is a smart and fiscally responsible amendment. I urge my colleagues to adopt it.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. HIMES. Mr. Chairman, if I understand the argument of my colleague from Virginia, he is saying that by taking away money for the purposes of debt reduction from the DOD that we will be disincentivizing action, which we all know to be the right thing to do here.

So let me just toss out a couple of facts.

Fact No. 1, Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has identified the debt of this country as perhaps the single largest strategic threat to the security of the country.

Fact No. 2, in DOD, we are talking about people who, if anywhere in the government are dedicated to doing the right thing by all of us, sacrificing for the good of this Nation, and their leader said that the single largest strategic threat to this country is our debt, how can you make an argument against this amendment? Think about the words of Admiral Mullen.

The argument seems to me to be an insider Washington argument, which is if you take away their cheese, they're going to be angry. They won't do the right thing because you're taking away their cheese.

I will stop speaking, but I will just ask my colleague from Virginia whether he believes in the context of what Admiral Mullen said about deficit reduction and the debt and whether he really believes that the DOD will do the wrong thing here.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. HIMES. Mr. Chairman, all I've got to say about that is, wow. Here we are talking about the DOD and what we should do with savings found in the DOD, and the gentleman from Virginia is bringing up stimulus and TARP and $800 billion, which has absolutely nothing to do with the question at hand, a mechanism that is used all too often by the other side.

The gentleman mentions the Constitution. Nobody in this room is saying that we shouldn't adequately fund the Department of Defense. That's not what this is about any more than this is about TARP or stimulus or any of the other things that my colleague spoke about.

The Constitution also says that it is this body--this body--that will determine how funds are spent. My colleague from Virginia is saying that extra money at the DOD that is saved in a mechanism that we all agree makes sense, that it should be a slush fund, if you will, that the DOD should decide how they use that. The Constitution of the United States is very clear. That's our job.

Nobody is saying that we should underfund defense; that is not what this is about. And I am delighted that the gentleman takes such great pride in having voted against the stimulus and the TARP, which by the way, I would say the day after Chrysler has repaid its government loan 6 years early, the gentleman might revisit his point on that, but that is not what this is about.

This is about good government and deficit reduction and abiding by the spirit of the Constitution that says we decide how money is used, not the agencies.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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