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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 2219) making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, and for other purposes:

Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Chair, I rise in support of the FY2012 Defense Appropriations bill. I want to also thank Chairman Young and Ranking Member Dicks for working together to craft this important bipartisan legislation.

As our men and women in uniform and their families sacrifice to keep our country safe, Congress must provide them with the support and equipment necessary to accomplish their mission. In this bill we have appropriated funding for equipment procurement, base operations, military healthcare and pay in order to address current defense needs and future challenges; to continue funding research and development; and to improve the essential health and quality of life programs for the men and women of the Armed Services and their families.

In total, the bill allocates $530 billion for Defense Department operations and support. This funding cuts $9 billion from the President's request while increasing overall base funding for the Department of Defense by $17 billion. While I support this legislation, I believe we can meet all our national security needs with fewer resources. The testimony before the Budget Committee on July 8, 2011 made clear that we can reduce defense spending without compromising our national security. That is why I voted for the Frank Amendment that would have reduced the amount of this increase by half. I also supported an amendment offered by Representative Mulvaney that would have held funding in the bill to FY2011 levels. Unfortunately, both amendments failed.

The bill provides $32.3 billion for defense health programs, which is $119 million above the President's request and $935 million above what was enacted in the FY2011 bill. This figure includes a $125 million increase over the president's request for improved treatment and research of traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions, $30 million for orthopedic research and $15 million for restorative transplant research, and $2.3 billion for family support and advocacy programs.

To help financially struggling military families cope in this challenging economy, the bill also includes military pay funding of $5.4 billion above last year's level and includes a pay raise of 1.6% and a comparable increase for housing and subsistence funding.

To ensure that all the funds allocated are used properly and for their intended purpose, the bill also contains enhanced oversight and accountability measures.

Mr. Chair, our troops deserve our support for the daily sacrifices they make for the security of the Nation. They depend on us to ensure that they have the resources they need to do their jobs.

They also count on us to see to it that the health and welfare of their families are assured so they can focus on the mission at hand. That is what this bill is about and I encourage my colleagues to join me in supporting it.

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