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Public Statements

National Security and Job Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McKEON. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the National Security and Jobs Protection Act offered by Mr. West from Florida. I have the privilege of serving on the Armed Services Committee with him, and I thank him for his leadership in bringing this important bill forward at this time.

It boggles my mind, Madam Speaker, that we are standing here ready to wipe out our national defense at a time when we turn on the TV in the morning and see the Middle East erupting, when we see Iran moving forward on their plans to achieve a nuclear weapon, when we see China increasing their defense spending while we're cutting ours.

People need to understand that we have cut $487 billion starting October 1 over the next 10 years out of our defense. And on top of that, we have added this problem of sequestration, which adds another 500, $600 billion over the next 10 years starting January 2.

The first $487 billion, some thought was put into, and plans. Even though we had to adjust our strategy that we've had since World War II, we've had to cut back. We know that we won't be able to carry out the missions that we've been called on to do in the future, but we will be able to survive, according to our military leaders.

But the sequestration--we held five hearings last September with all of our former military leaders, our current military leaders, former chairmen and Secretaries of these committees, and to a man, every single one said that the sequestration would hollow out and wipe out our national defense.

We would take the Navy back to the size it was in World War I, the Armed Forces, the ground forces back to the size they were in 1940, and the Air Force back to the smallest it's been since it was created. How does anybody think that given these times that is not a stupid thing to be doing?

The way the sequestration would take effect is you just pull out the budget and take a percentage--the administration hasn't told us yet what percentage; it's probably going to be about 15, 20 percent--off of every single line item. So mowing the lawn at Fort Dix will have the same priority as ammunition for the troops in Afghanistan. How can anybody think that that is a smart idea?

You know, we have a Constitution of the United States, and it tells us how we should operate here in this Congress. It says one body passes a bill, the other body passes a bill, a conference is formed, you work out your differences, you take it back for final passage, and send it to the President to be signed into law.

The House has acted. We took tough votes. We accomplished our objective of paying for the first year of sequestration, not just the defense cuts, but all of the cuts across the board, to move it back, pay for the first year, move it back into a time where we're less stressed with the election upon us, where we could do it in a less political environment, and the Senate hasn't acted. In 126 days, the Senate hasn't acted. Excuse me. The other body hasn't acted.

Madam Speaker, they don't like our bill; I understand that. All they have to do is pass another bill, get it to conference, and then we'll work out the differences. We accomplished ours through cuts, they can accomplish theirs through increasing taxes, and then we can work out a difference. All the gentleman on the other side says is, They've presented a plan and we don't like their plan.

Well, a plan is nothing. What they have to do is pass a bill. Show us. Get the votes, pass a bill, and then go to the conference. It's in the Constitution. That's how we operate. And it's important enough that we should all act like adults and follow the Constitution and get it done. Our Nation, our security depends on it, and we don't have much time left to do it.

Madam Speaker, I think it's very important that we pass this bill. I encourage my colleagues to vote for it. Let's act like adults. Let's earn our salaries here. Let's get this job done.

[Begin Insert]
Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the National Security and Jobs Protection Act offered by Mr. West, whom I have the pleasure of serving with on the Armed Services Committee. We all know that in less than 4 months, the automatic across-the-board cuts known as sequestration will go into full effect, significantly reducing funding for our national defense and vital domestic programs.

Mr. West and members of our committee understand just how much these draconian cuts will undermine our constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense. They will result in the United States having the smallest Army since World War II, the smallest Navy since World War I and the smallest Air Force in U.S. history. That is why President Obama's own Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has said the pending sequester is devastating and akin to shooting ourselves in the head.

So the natural question is--what is our government doing to stop sequestration? On May 10, 2012, the United States House of Representatives passed a measured and responsible proposal to deal with this impending threat, H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012. Yet, 126 days later the Senate has not acted. The President has not acted.

Madam Speaker, the House is prepared to work with the President and the Senate on alternatives to sequestration. We urge them to come to the table. That's what Mr. West's legislation does. Our colleagues in the Senate tell the press that they are negotiating a deal. Well they have been talking about that for a year now. It is time to put something down on paper and get it passed. We must not allow the well being of our troops and our national security to be used as a bargaining chip in this debate.

Just this week we were reminded at how unstable and dangerous our world is. The killing of Americans in Benghazi on the anniversary of Sep 11th is a reminder and a challenge to every member of this body that we must put our national security and our national interests first.

As one senior military official recently told me, America's inability to govern ourselves past sequestration plays directly into the hands of those who spread a narrative of American decline and will ultimately thrust us into a more dangerous world.

This legislation will require President Obama to live up to his obligation as Commander-in-Chief and submit his alternative plan to replace sequestration, while encouraging the United States Senate to do the same. Let us also not forget that it was the President who put defense ``squarely on the table'' last summer in the negotiations for the Budget Control Act.

Madam Speaker, we are running out of time before the draconian cuts in sequestration take effect. There are 111 days remaining. We need to work together to find a solution. I urge members to vote ``yes'' on this legislation.


Mr. McKEON. You presented something that I said when I was asked after a speech what I would do, given two bad choices. But you don't have anything on the floor yet. You haven't passed a bill, so I don't even have the opportunity to vote for increased taxes because you haven't passed a bill yet.


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