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H.R. 5856--Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will start debate on H.R. 5856, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2013. In this bill, $388 million is to be appropriated for military bands and musical performances. This is a stunning amount of taxpayer funds to be spending on military music at time of fiscal crisis and tough choices. While the Pentagon's 140 bands and over 5,000 full-time musicians carry on a time honored and noble tradition of military music, this level of spending on a military function that does not directly enhance national security is unsustainable. At a time of trillion dollar budget deficits, Congress needs to act to significantly reduce taxpayer funding of military bands.

It is my intention to offer an amendment on H.R. 5856 to reduce Pentagon spending for military bands and performances for fiscal year 2013 from $388 million to $200 million. The $188 million reduction would be applied to the deficit reduction account established in H.R. 5856.

Earlier this year on H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, the House approved an amendment I offered to limit spending on ``military musical units.'' The amendment stated, ``Amounts authorized to be appropriated pursuant to this Act for military musical units (as such term is defined in section 974 of title 10, United States Code) may not exceed $200,000,000.''

I do not want there to be any misinterpretation or mischaracterization of my intentions when I offer my amendment. My goal is to reduce military musical units, not military personnel in a role essential to our national security.

This is a time of tough choices. My House Republican colleagues have decided to protect and shield millionaires and billionaires from any increase in Federal taxes commensurate with their wealth to help reduce the deficit. Instead, they have targeted domestic programs for cuts making children, seniors, low-income families, and communities all across the country to shoulder the burden of deficit reduction. Now it is the Pentagon's turn to experience some budget cuts that do nothing to reduce military readiness, mission strength, or our troops' ability to defend our Nation.

Unless cuts are made, the Pentagon is on track to spend more than $4 billion over the next decade on military music. It is unconscionable to borrow billions from China to fund deficit spending on the Defense Department's massive musical budget.

I urge all of my colleagues to support the McCollum Amendment to cut military musical spending by $188 million and apply those funds to deficit reduction.

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