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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COLE. I thank the gentleman for yielding, as I am the most junior member of this subcommittee.

But I would be remiss not to echo the praise of my colleagues, both for the chairman and the ranking member. They have worked together extraordinarily well in a way that makes us all proud. Frankly, Mr. Dicks, I am going to miss you greatly from this committee. You have been a mentor and a friend. Thank goodness Mr. Young will be here, and I will have somebody's knee to learn at.

This is a good bill. It does, as has been mentioned earlier, add roughly a billion dollars from roughly $519 billion in the base defense bill. What hasn't been mentioned, though, is that our overseas contingency fund, 8, $8.5 billion, is actually down $27 billion, so we are actually spending less overall on defense this year.

We reduced the number of personnel by over 21,000. We ought to recognize, for those of our friends who think we're spending too much, we are actually at the beginning of a long drawdown. If you look over the next 5 years, sadly, we're going to reduce defense spending by $500 billion. That means less capability. That means 70,000 fewer soldiers, 20,000 fewer marines. That means 25 fewer combat vessels--288 instead of 313. Seven fewer aircraft fighter wings. Real reduction in capability.

A lot of our friends think we spend too much on defense. The reality is we spend less and less as a percentage of our Federal budget and our overall wealth every year. In the 1970s we were spending 40 percent plus of the Federal budget. This year, it's less than 20. We were spending 9 percent of GDP at the height of the Cold War, this year barely 4.

For those of us that think that this investment hasn't made a difference, I would just recommend in closing, please read Robert Kagen's splendid book, ``The World America Made,'' and think how much freedom and security we have enjoyed for a relatively small price and think about the risk we have run as we go forward if we reduce too far too fast.

I want to thank again the chairman, the ranking member, for making sure that didn't happen. I look forward to working with him to make sure sequestration does not occur. As he rightly points out, it would be devastating.

We should pass this bill, and we then should get about the longer term challenge of making sure sequestration does not occur.


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