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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARTER. Madam Chair, I rise to address an issue that I think is very important to the patriotic men and women who fight and defend our country.

Representative McCollum, in good graces, asked that we restrict the military band funding by $120 million in an attempt to save money, but the Congressional Budget Office has informed us that this reduction, this $120 million reduction, will not save the American taxpayers one red cent, nor will it reduce the overall DOD spending.

The facts about our bands are that they are an integral part of the patriotism that keeps our soldiers' hearts beating fast. For example, over 10,000 funerals are held per year, and these bands attend these funerals. And many of us, unfortunately, in this body have had to attend military funerals in the past, and they know how much that music means to the parents of the loved ones of our lost heroes.

I have had the real great pleasure of being at welcome home celebrations at Fort Hood, which are very dramatic. The buses pull up at night across the parade ground in the dark, and then the band strikes up military music and out of the dark comes marching our soldiers into the parade ground. And the tears flow. And parents and children of the soldiers and the loved ones of the soldiers, tears come to their eyes. And that music is an integral part of it. The concerts, the ceremonies, the funerals, and the welcome home celebrations are all part of what makes our military the patriotic body that it is.

The individual bands performed as many as 1,200 musical missions during the 12- to 15-month deployments. Military bands also perform at USO and other places. The number of bands right now in the Army is 132 active duty, 51 National Guard, and 17 Reserve; Air Force, 24; the Navy, 14; and the Marines, 14.

And speaking of the Marines, Friday before last I had the first time opportunity to go to the parade at the Marine barracks here in Washington, D.C., and everyone, every red-blooded American should attend that, and every Member of Congress should attend it. And it was my first chance to do it. And that is the most patriotic-striking thing you will ever experience. And to lose something like that will be a tragedy for this country.

The total cost for the bands is $320 million, and 282 million of those dollars is personnel cost. Now, something that many don't understand is these band members that perform, and at least two of the services I'm familiar with, the Army and the Marine Corps, have other duties. Some of them in the Marine Corps are riflemen, just like every marine is a rifleman. In the Army, most of these people work in security or military police. And if the bands were not performing, they would still be in the military. They would still have personnel costs, housing costs, and other things that would be part of the DOD expenses. So this is no extra that we are doing here. These people are still going to be employed by the military, and they're still going have to those costs. So that's why there is no real savings here.

But we are saving something that's important to this country and that is this is what makes patriotic people join the military. This is what causes young men and women to have their hearts beat fast on behalf of their country. And to lose our military bands would be a tragedy. And therefore I am asking that we adopt this amendment and that we replace these funds for these military bands so that we are able to continue this long tradition that goes back to the beginning of our country, to having bands play to celebrate military events.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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