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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. RICHARDSON. Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of H.R. 5856, Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013. H.R. 5856 provides $519.2 billion for the base budget of the Defense Department in fiscal year 2013 which is $3.1 billion above the President's request and $1.1 billion above the fiscal year 2012 level.

In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations bill provides $88.5 billion in fiscal year 2013 contingency funding for ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, at the President's request and $26.6 billion below the fiscal year 2012 level. The contingency funding being $26.6 billion below the fiscal year 2012 level reflects the continued drawdown of U.S. activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I support this bill for three reasons:

(1) Provides all service members a pay raise of 1.7 percent, the level included in the President's request;

(2) Provides $33.9 billion, $334 million above the President's request, for Defense health care programs for our troops, their families, and retirees; and

(3) Provides $1.6 billion for measures to counter improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.

I would like to thank Chairman YOUNG and Ranking Member DICKS for ensuring that there were no reductions in the number of C-17s that are in use by our Armed Services in the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations bill. The C-17 is the Air Force's premier strategic transport aircraft and remains the military's most reliable and capable airlift aircraft. The C-17 has proven capable of delivering more cargo, troops, and non-war humanitarian missions than any other aircraft. The C-17 delivered needed relief supplies and search and rescue teams immediately in the aftermath of the destruction in Japan. The C-17 also delivered over 10,005 tons of disaster relief supplies and carried 13,812 passengers in response to the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.

Mr. Chair, in my remaining time let me briefly highlight additional key provisions. This legislation provides increased funding of $246 million for cancer research, $245 million for medical facility and equipment upgrades, $125 million for Traumatic Brain Injury and psychological health research, and $20 million for suicide prevention outreach programs. Also, provides $2.3 billion for family support and advocacy programs.

This bill provides $181 million in additional funds not requested by the President to keep open production lines for the M-1 Abrams tank and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. As our nation goes through an Armed Forces reduction, protecting critical industries such as U.S. combat vehicle is imperative. Maintaining a modest and continuous Abrams production line is necessary to persevering superior battlefield capabilities. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said, ``capability is more important than size.'' I agree. In April, I signed onto a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressing that sentiment.

H.R. 5856 maintains our military superiority by continuing the research and development of current and future military equipment. This bill provides $5.9 billion for procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Provides $2.6 billion for procurement of modified F-18 Super Hornets, which is $562 million and 11 aircraft more than the President's request. Also, provides $1.8 billion to develop the KC-46A, the Air Force's next-generation aerial refueling aircraft.

This bill also provides $250 million above the President's request for the Rapid Innovation Fund. This will continue the efforts started by the Armed Services Committee in fiscal year 2011 to promote innovative research in defense technologies among small businesses. H.R. 5856 includes $519 million for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, known as Nunn-Lugar, to assist in the denuclearization and demilitarization of the states of the former Soviet Union.

Finally, let me note my opposition to a number of provisions in this bill. This bill provides no funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense Systems (MEADS) program, which is a joint U.S.-German-Italian effort planned to replace Hawk and Patriot systems worldwide by 2018. Provides $118 million less than the President request for necessary F-22 warplane modifications. Reduces the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund (DAWDF) by $224 million from the fiscal year 2013 budget.

Mr. Chair, this bill is based upon a $1.028 trillion discretionary spending cap for fiscal year 2013, which is $19 billion below the $1.047 trillion discretionary spending cap agreed to in the bipartisan Budget Control Act. With my colleagues across the aisle squeezing our discretionary spending, they are hampering our ability to support many key national security priorities.

For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to support and join me in voting for the bill on final passage.

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