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Providing for Consideration of Conference Report of H.R. 4310, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. LEE of California. Let me first thank Mr. McGovern for yielding the time and your tremendous and tireless leadership on the Rules Committee, but also for your leadership in protecting our young men and women at home and providing strategies for how to bring them home quickly and safely and orderly.

With the drawdowns from two wars, now is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate our runaway defense spending and make sure that our defense budget reflects our overall national security strategy. Many outside experts from across the political spectrum have concluded that the Pentagon can afford much more substantial cuts than what's found in this bill. Secondly, while this bill contains some audit provisions, these measures are only set to take hold in 2017. The Pentagon needs to be audited. It should have been audited and should be audited right now--last year, this year, next year. We can't wait until 2017.

Earlier this year, I offered an amendment that would have cut any Federal agency's budget by 5 percent if they are unable to provide audit-ready financial documents. We need to get some sunlight on the Pentagon's books to create a culture of responsibility and accountability at the Defense Department.

On Afghanistan, the bill has some notable positive steps, but nonetheless fails to call for a swift and safe withdrawal of our troops. On the positive side, I applaud the conferees for including provisions to ensure that security for Afghan women and girls is a priority during the transition to Afghan security responsibility.

However, on balance, this bill does not go far enough.

We all know there is no military solution in Afghanistan, and it's time to bring home our brave men and women in uniform and transition to full Afghan control. After 10 years and $600 billion invested in an unstable country, it's past time to end this war--not in 2014, but right now.

Finally, I'm very concerned about how this bill undermines the bedrock values of America, and I'm talking about the constitutional guarantees of due process. I was disappointed to see Senator Feinstein's provision prohibiting indefinite detention removed during the conference. We should not allow those who seek to terrorize the American people to win by trashing the very civil liberties at the heart of our national identity.

So I urge a ``no'' vote on the rule and a ``no'' vote on final passage.


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