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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. RICHARDSON. I would like to thank Chairman Young and Ranking Member Dicks for ensuring that this legislation, the fiscal year 2013 Defense appropriations bill, would not include any reductions in the number of C-17s that are used and serviced by our armed services.

The C-17 is the Air Force's premier strategic transport aircraft, and it remains the military's most reliable and capable airlift aircraft. The C-17 flies more than 80 percent of all U.S. airlift missions while comprising only 60 percent of the airlift fleet. The C-17 has proven capable of delivering more cargo, troops, and non-war humanitarian missions than any other aircraft that we have.

Mr. Chairman, this aircraft was instrumental in saving lives during the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last year. In addition to that, it was instrumental in aiding in the humanitarian efforts that I witnessed personally in Samoa. Some of the other missions include the delivery of 10,005 tons of disaster relief supplies and the carrying of 13,812 passengers in response to the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. In 2009, I worked with Congressman Eni Faleomavaega to help get disaster relief supplies to American Samoa after an earthquake and tsunami that ravaged that island. The 10-day relief mission was conducted with the C-17 aircraft.

The C-17 provides rapid-response capability for relief missions anywhere in the world, including--but not limited to--serving those who serve us.

Mr. Chairman, in addition to these humanitarian efforts, the C-17 leads in providing positive economic benefits to our country. The C-17 is built in Long Beach, California, which I happen to have the privilege to represent with my colleague Mr. Rohrabacher. The production of the C-17 is responsible for over 13,000 jobs in California, and it provides $2 billion in economic benefit. Nationally, the production of the C-17 has suppliers in 44 States, all of which we represent here. It supports more than 30,000 jobs and has an $8.4 billion economic impact.

While we are looking for ways to rein in spending, the C-17 remains critical to our national security, to our humanitarian relief missions, and to our economy. My effort today is to make sure that we have an adequate number of C-17s that are available, serviced and maintained for our Armed Forces.

Will the chairman and ranking member continue to work with me to ensure that there is a sufficient and well-maintained fleet of our C-17s in our armed services?


Ms. RICHARDSON. I would like to engage in a colloquy.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank Chairman Young and Ranking Member Dicks for including language in the conference report that recognizes the importance of increasing the fair opportunity for numbers of women and minorities in officer positions and within the Special Operations Forces.

Minorities and women to have an opportunity to fairly compete--and I stress, ``compete''--are often underrepresented in the leadership ranks within our Armed Services. African Americans account for 12 percent of the U.S. population but represent just 8 percent of Active Duty officers. Likewise, when it comes to Hispanic Americans, it's even worse. Hispanics make up 15 percent of the U.S. population but number only 5 percent of the officer corps.

While the number of women in officer positions has seen increases, there is still a lack of women in top officer positions. In 2009, there were 40 individuals who held the highest rank in our Armed Services.

Mr. Chairman, do you know how many of those were women? I'm sad to say, just 1 out of 40. This shows that there is considerable room for improvement.

Having served on the Transportation Committee with Mr. Cummings, much work was done on the Coast Guard side, but really should be equalled throughout the Armed Forces.

I was planning on offering an amendment to the Defense appropriations bill that would make it explicit that it is the sense of Congress that efforts should be made to increase the number of women and minorities in officer positions, but it would be subject to a point of order. However, I've worked with Chairman Young and his staff that going forward we would continue to look at ways to increase women and minorities within the leadership ranks and to give them an opportunity again to compete for fair positions.

Chairman Young, will you continue to work with me on this very important issue?

And I yield to the gentleman.


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