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Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, I want to describe to the Senate what we just did. It is a little different from what we sometimes do around here, which is we have long threats of filibusters on motions to proceed; then, we, finally, often or sometimes reach unanimous consent agreements to proceed. What we did here--and it was very deliberate--was to proceed by motion, not by unanimous consent, to this bill so that if persons were going to filibuster the motion to proceed, they were then going to have to come to the floor and debate it--not just simply threaten to filibuster the motion to proceed, but they would have to come and actually debate it. Because I believe that is the correct way for us to operate.
Motions to proceed, I believe, have been abused. The threats to filibuster those motions have been allowed to be successful. One way we can overcome what has been a bad habit of allowing threats to filibuster motions to proceed to succeed is to basically tell those folks, our colleagues, that if they want to filibuster a motion to proceed--in this case, the Defense authorization bill--they are going to have to come over and filibuster.
This is something which is significant. It may sound like a nuance to many. I think it probably would to most outside this body and our staffs as to what I am saying. But it is important to those of us who are trying hard to get this body to be more functional that we use the existing rules--and I am all in favor of rules changes, by the way--but that we use in the meantime the existing rules to get this body more functional than it is right now. And one of those existing rules is the one we just used, which is to proceed by a motion to proceed, and then to indicate, as our leader just did, there appears to be no one who wishes to be recognized to debate it, and then for the Chair to put the question, the Presiding Officer to then put the question to the body: All those in favor of the motion say ``aye,'' all those opposed say ``nay.'' The ayes have it, and now we are on the bill.
So, Madam President, I have a long opening statement. I will, however, with the assistance here of my friend, Senator McCain, also make the following statement. There is no cloture motion which is filed or pending. We hope we can adopt this bill without a cloture motion. We are hopeful that people who have amendments will bring them over. We will try to dispose of them, either by saying we could agree to them or we cannot agree and putting them in line for debate; but proceeding in a way that if folks, colleagues, have amendments, they bring over those amendments and let us try to work those amendments through this process without having to go through cloture and without having to set aside pending amendments in order to make other amendments pending.
If we can proceed without a cloture motion, we are not going to have to use that process of setting aside pending amendments, making other amendments pending, because if we can avoid a cloture motion, we are not going to have a postcloture period where that pendency of amendments becomes relevant. If we are not going to need to go to a cloture, then it is not relevant that an amendment is made pending because the bill is open to amendment. That is what we are hoping to do.
We are willing to stay here late hours. Senator McCain and I have spent a lot of time talking about this--we spent a lot of time getting this bill to the floor, by the way; and it came out of our committee unanimously--but we spent a lot of time talking about how do we get this bill done in 3 days because that is what we told the majority leader we think we can do. By the way, that is all the time we are going to have. The majority leader has made it clear we do not have more than 3 days.
We want colleagues, Senators, who have amendments to bring those amendments to us. We will try, if we cannot resolve them, to put them in packages. If they need to be debated and voted on, that is fine. That is what we are here for. We are going to then try to line up those amendments so that we will go back and forth to the extent we can between Democrats and Republicans offering amendments and voting on those amendments.
So, therefore, I intend to object, in the absence of a cloture motion being filed, to laying aside amendments because, again, in the absence of a cloture motion pending, there is no need to do that and it confuses and complicates the life of the managers of this bill. So I want to make that clear to our colleagues.
I wonder if Senator McCain might have a comment on that.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.
Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, could I say, I thank my dear and old friend from Michigan. I was recollecting that he and I have now worked together for over a quarter of a century. But far more important than that, this legislation and how we handle it, I say to all my colleagues, can be a model for how this body should do business: Take up a piece of legislation, have amendments and debate, and move forward. If that requires long hours, and even occasionally a Friday or even more, then I think our colleagues should be prepared to do that. We are not sent here for a 3-day workweek. We are sent here to do the people's business.
I am not proud, Madam President--and I will not point fingers at anybody--it was judged by historians the last session of Congress was the least productive since 1947. Now, maybe Senator Levin and I were around in 1947, but we do not remember exactly what happened in those days. But the fact is that when we are looking at basically continuous gridlock, day after day, week after week, month after month, then we have to change the way we do business.
Hanging over all this, I say to my friends on this side of the aisle, is a change in the rules, which could cause what we used to call the nuclear option, which we were able to avoid some years ago when this sort of same thing was contemplated on the confirmation process of judges.
So we are now proceeding, I say to my friend from Michigan, without a motion to proceed, without a cloture vote, without the normal parliamentary back and forth that takes up 2 or 3 days of every week here, and we want people to come to the floor, have amendments--as there is one pending from the Senator from Colorado--we debate it openly and honestly, we have votes on it, and we move forward. If it requires quite a while--because we are talking about this Nation's security, the National Defense Authorization Act--then we should be willing to spend those hours on it.
So it seems to me, if we can do what the distinguished chairman and I contemplate; that is, that we move forward with the amendments, we have open and honest debate--we will work with any of our Members to try to make sure their issues and their amendments get the consideration they deserve. But we also may have to put in long hours in order to do so. There is no reason to use a parliamentary mechanism to keep us from addressing this Nation's national security. The lives of the men and women who are serving are dependent upon the work we are doing, and for someone--individual Members of this body--to hold up the whole process because of his or her specific issue is not appropriate treatment of this issue.
I urge all my colleagues to cooperate. I believe we can show the entire country that we are capable of moving forward and addressing the issues in a measured, mature, and productive fashion, which is what the American people are demanding of us. I do not need to remind my colleagues of our approval ratings. But there is ample reason for that disapproval because we have not moved forward and done the people's business.
Again, I urge all my colleagues to show the kind of forbearance and the kind of maturity that is necessary in order to complete this legislation.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friend from Michigan, Chairman LEVIN, for his leadership in writing this year's Defense authorization bill. We have worked together for many years now, and the chairman has set a high standard of cooperation and bipartisanship that befits the esteemed history of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
I am pleased that we will finally have the opportunity to discuss and debate this crucial piece of bipartisan legislation, which has been on the Senate's calendar for almost 6 months. My colleagues and I have come to the Senate floor numerous times during those months to ask the majority leader to call up the Defense authorization bill. While I had hoped to get started on this bill much earlier, I do appreciate the majority leader's offer to bring up the bill with an open process for dealing with amendments. Unfortunately, here we are, with only a few weeks left in this Congress, just beginning debate on one of the most critical pieces of legislation the Congress annually considers. So I ask my colleagues' cooperation in offering relevant amendments with limited time for debate, so that we may afford all Senators an opportunity to address their ideas and concerns with respect to national defense.
Because of the delay in bringing up this bill, we are considering the Defense authorization bill under the imminent threat of budget sequestration mandated by last year's Budget Control Act. Pentagon leadership has repeatedly warned that these automatic, across-the-board cuts to defense spending, totaling almost half a trillion dollars over the next decade, would devastate the Department's ability to provide for the Nation's defense. Sequestration would undermine the readiness of the armed services; dramatically reduce our ability to project power and defend our interests at a time when the world is becoming more dangerous; jeopardize the livelihood of civilian and uniformed personnel alike; and bring with it the likelihood of hundreds of thousands of layoffs. Furthermore, the way in which these cuts would be applied will likely require that thousands of contracts be terminated and renegotiated at a huge cost to the taxpayer.
It is unconscionable that the President has not come to the Congress with a proposal to avoid the devastation of sequestration, not only on our national security but on our economic security as well. It has been over a year since the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or supercommittee, admitted defeat, and the President has shown no leadership and offered no solutions to the impending sequestration. Many of us in this body have been meeting and discussing potential alternatives to sequestration. Sequestration will take effect on January 2, just a short time from now. We need leadership to avoid this disaster and to address the spending and revenue issues that have brought our Nation to the fiscal cliff.
The Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act contains many ``must pass'' authorizations, including a pay raise for our men and women in the Armed Forces, bonuses, health care, and quality of life programs that are essential to the readiness of our Armed Forces and the well-being of their families. The bill helps to address the needs of wounded service members and their families. Military construction and family housing projects cannot proceed without the specific authorizations contained in this bill.
This bill also includes important authorities that support our national security objectives around the world, including an extension of the Afghan Security Forces Fund, a program instrumental to our efforts to build the capacity of the Afghan Army and Police. It also extends the CERP program which provides commanders on the ground with the ability to fund small-scale humanitarian projects that directly benefit the Afghan people, as well as the Coalition Support Funds program which reimburses cooperating nations supporting the effort in Afghanistan. The bill also contains a provision mandating an independent assessment of the size, structure, and capability requirements of the Afghanistan National Security Forces necessary to provide enduring security for their country so it does not revert to a safe haven for international terrorism.
In the area of military compensation, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the President's request for fiscal year 2013 for pay and benefits of current and retired members of the military represents more than one-quarter of DOD's total base budget request. In light of this, the bill would establish a Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission to review these benefits and recommend any future changes necessary to ensure both quality of life and sustainable benefits for those who serve.
In the area of acquisition and contracting, the bill includes provisions that would improve how the Department buys weapons systems and other goods and services by prohibiting the use of cost-type contracts for the production of major weapon systems; requiring the Department to revise its ``profit policy'' to make sure that it effectively incentivizes contractors to control costs; requiring that the Department notify Congress of potential termination liability on contracts for major weapon systems; and calling on the Department to improve its guidance on how it procures capability in response to ``joint emergent operational needs''.
Several provisions in the bill continue the committee's strong oversight of troubled programs. The bill fences 50 percent of the funding for the second Ford-class aircraft carrier until the Navy submits a report on how it will control its construction costs, while the accompanying Senate report directs the Navy to recertify the current $8.1 billion cost cap on CVN-79. Other provisions enhance oversight of, and transparency into, the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship Mission Packages; subject how the Air Force maintains and modernizes F-22A aircraft to greater oversight; and continue strong oversight of the F-35 program.
This year's bill also contains important initiatives intended to ensure proper stewardship of taxpayer dollars by codifying the 2014 goal for the Department of Defense to achieve an auditable statement of budgetary resources; requiring the implementation of recommendations provided by the GAO to eliminate duplicative programs and functions; imposing additional protections for DOD whistleblowers; and requiring a detailed cost estimate and personnel plan for the new Defense Clandestine Service.
Another important provision would require the commander of U.S. Cyber Command to provide a strategy for the development and deployment of offensive cyber capabilities to serve as deterrents to, and for response in the event of, a cyberattack. I believe strongly that cyber warfare will be the key battlefield of the 21st century, and I am concerned about our ability to fight and win in this new domain without a robust offensive capability. Crafting a comprehensive, well-defined strategy, required under this provision and others, should also spur U.S. Cyber Command to identify critical personnel requirements for offensive cyber missions, which are presently understaffed.
Again this year, the committee restricted further construction on Guam related to the realignment of U.S. Marines in the Pacific theater until Congress has a clear understanding of the costs and strategic implications of the proposed force realignments on our strong allies in the region. The bill also contains no funding for the Office of Economic Adjustment activities on Guam, and it requires future requests for the construction of public facilities and infrastructure be specifically authorized by law, thereby eliminating another potential source of earmarks.
In addition, this bill would impose restrictions on DOD expenditures to develop a commercial biofuels industry. I strongly support continued Defense Department research in energy technologies that reduce fuel demand for our weapons systems and save lives on the battlefield. But I do not condone siphoning defense funds from those critical efforts to pay $27 per gallon for biofuels or $170 million to use as venture capital for the construction of a commercial biofuels refinery. This is not a core defense need and should be left to the private sector, or to the Department of Energy, which received over $4 billion last year for energy research and development for related programs. The committee's action corrects this misplacement of priorities.
Even without the massive budget cuts that will occur if sequestration is not averted, the President last year proposed $487 billion in defense budget cuts by fiscal year 2021. The total funding authorized in this bill reflects the President's reduced defense budget plan. However, within that total funding, the Armed Services Committee cut an additional $3.3 billion from programs requested by the Department of Defense to fund congressional special interest items. I am concerned that, in light of the budget realities facing the Pentagon and the Nation, at a time when our military is being asked to make drastic cuts in personnel, some of our colleagues continue to divert resources from vital military requirements to fund unnecessary and unrequested projects.
Some argue that the Department of Defense does not have a monopoly on good ideas. While true, the committee has an obligation to ensure that funding added to new programs results in tangible value to our national security and our military personnel. Terms like ``Committee initiative,'' as used in this bill, do not effectively disguise additions to the budget that are earmarks by any other name. Two perennial additions that highlight the problem of unrequested authorizations are the Industrial Base Innovation Fund, IBIF, and the Defense Rapid Innovation Program, DRIP, which together are earmarked for $230 million in this bill. These funds were not requested by the Department of Defense and as a result, the Department has struggled to put them on contract and manage the money for any useful purpose.
Serious threats face our Nation, most recently evidenced by the deaths of four brave Americans in Benghazi, and our Armed Forces are still engaged in operations in Afghanistan and deployed around the world. At the same time, our Nation is facing a severe fiscal crisis which is only weeks away, due to the unwillingness or inability of the President and Congress to agree on a solution to the current tax-and-spending stalemate.
And once again, Congress has failed to enact either an authorization or appropriations bill for the Department of Defense almost 2 months into the fiscal year. We have failed to provide the Department with a baseline to plan for sequestration, if it is ultimately not averted. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to swiftly approve this legislation so that a Defense authorization bill can be enacted before the end of the year.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Michigan.
Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, I thank my good friend from Arizona for those comments.
Madam President, on behalf of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am pleased to bring S. 3254, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013, to the Senate floor. The Armed Services Committee approved the bill by a unanimous, 26-0 vote, making this the 51st consecutive year that our committee has reported a defense authorization act. Every previous bill has been enacted into law.
This year's bill would authorize $631.4 billion for national defense programs--the same amount as the President's budget request and $31 billion less than the amount appropriated for fiscal year 2012. U.S. forces are drawing down in Afghanistan and are no longer deployed in Iraq. However, real threats to our national security remain and our forces are deployed throughout the globe. I am pleased that this bill provides our men and women in uniform the funding and support that they need as they engage in continued combat in Afghanistan, work to track down al-Qaida and associated forces in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, and perform other military missions around the world.
First and foremost, this bill continues the increases in compensation and quality of life that our service men and women and their families deserve as they face the hardships imposed by continuing military operations around the world. For example, the bill authorizes a 1.7 percent across-the-board pay raise for all military personnel, extends over 30 types of bonuses and special pays aimed at encouraging enlistment, reenlistment, and continued service by active-duty and reserve military personnel, and authorizes increases to several of these bonuses; does not accept Department of Defense proposals that would have increased the cost of medical care for service members and their families by establishing enrollment fees for TRICARE Standard and TRICARE for Life, and increasing TRICARE deductibles and the annual catastrophic cap; authorizes $30 million in supplemental impact aid and related education programs for the children of service members, and adjusts the impact aid formula to alleviate delays in impact aid funds; requires the Secretary of Defense to provide recommendations for statutory or regulatory changes to further increase career and service opportunities for women in the armed forces; and strengthens protections on consumer credit for members of the armed forces.
The bill includes funding needed to provide our troops the equipment and support that they need in Afghanistan, while preparing the way for a transition of responsibility to Afghan forces. For example, the bill funds the President's request for $88 billion for overseas contingency operations; fully funds the President's request for $5.7 billion to train and equip the Afghan National Army and Afghan Police--growing the capabilities of these security forces so those forces can continue the transition to taking the security lead throughout Afghanistan by 2014; reauthorizes the use of DOD funds to support a program to reintegrate insurgent fighters into Afghan society at the requested level of $35.0 million; reauthorizes the Commanders' Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan with a reduction in the Administration's request, given reductions to U.S. force levels in Afghanistan; reauthorizes the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund at a reduced level and restricts the availability of the authorized funds until the Secretary of Defense submits information on how new projects will be sustained following completion; and requires an independent assessment of the size and structure requirements of the Afghanistan National Security Forces necessary to ensure that Afghan forces are capable of providing security for their own country after 2014.
The bill also contains a number of provisions that will help improve the management of the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. For example, the bill enhances protections for contractor employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse on DOD contracts; restricts the use of ``pass-through'' contracts by requiring that at least 50 percent of the work on any service contract be performed by the prime contractor or by a subcontractor identified in the contract; lowers the cap on contractor salaries and compensation that is allowable for DOD reimbursement from $750,000 to $230,700; prohibits the use of cost-type contracts for the production of major weapon systems, with limited exceptions; and adds $59 million to enable the DOD IG to provide more effective oversight and help identify waste, fraud, and abuse in DOD programs, especially in the area of procurement.
There are a number of controversial issues that are not addressed in this bill.
First, the sole detainee-related provision in this bill is a one-year extension of existing language addressing certifications for transfers of GITMO detainees and the construction of facilities inside the United States to house GITMO detainees. I understand that some of my colleagues would like to revisit issues we addressed last year regarding the authority to detain individuals apprehended in the course of our ongoing fight with al-Qaida, the Taliban, and associated forces, and they have that right, but those issues are not addressed in the bill reported by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Second, the bill does not authorize new rounds of base closures, as requested by the administration. In fact, the bill includes a one-year moratorium on implementing any realignment that would result in a military installation falling under the threshold for closure without going through the BRAC process. The Department of Defense has achieved savings through previous BRAC rounds, but there are other options--including further reductions to our overseas basing structure--that should be considered to achieve savings before Congress authorizes a new round of base closures inside the United States.
Third, in accordance with the policy that the Armed Services Committee has adopted over the last two years, the bill does not contain any earmarks, as defined in rule XLIV of the Standing Rules of the Senate. I continue to believe that we it is wrong for us to give up the power of the purse given to Congress in the Constitution. I don't believe that the executive branch has a monopoly on good ideas; in fact, I think that we are often more receptive to creative, new ideas that can lead to advances in the national defense than the defense bureaucracy is. Nonetheless, there are no earmarks in this bill.
Finally, I would like to discuss four issues in the bill that are of particular importance to the Department of Defense and the Nation.
First, the budget proposal included a plan by the Air Force to retire or realign various aviation units, resulting in a 4.8 percent reduction to the Air National Guard, compared to a reduction of only 1.2 percent to the active duty Air Force. The Air Force provided no convincing justification for the imbalance in these cuts. Some of the proposed cuts in National Guard force structure were accompanied by proposed increases in active duty force structure for the same aircraft. The rationale provided for other cuts was inconsistent with statements that the Air Force made as recently as two years ago about the capability of its aircraft. In fact, the Air Force was unable even to provide the committee with consistent numbers documenting the impact of the proposed cuts on affected locations.
The bill before us rejects the Air Force plan and fully restores $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2013 funding for the force structure that the Air Force proposed to cut--without increasing the overall top-line of the defense budget. While we understand that the Air Force has to make tough choices in its budget, major changes in Air Force structure are too important to be made without the support of objective analysis. For this reason, the committee bill would delay the actions proposed by the Air Force and instead establish a national commission to provide an objective analysis of how the structure of the Air Force should be modified to best fulfill current and anticipated mission requirements in a manner consistent with available resources. It is our expectation that this analysis will provide a far more sound and defensible basis for future force structure decisions.
Second, the bill establishes a Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission to review elements of military compensation and retirement benefits with the objective of modernizing these systems, ensuring the long-term viability and sustainability of All-Volunteer force, and enabling a high quality of life for military families. In proposing such a commission, the Department of Defense took note of significant changes in the demographics of the national workforce and private sector retirement plans, concerns about the extent to which military compensation is deferred and the vesting of benefits is delayed, and the continuing fiscal pressures on the nation. As recommended by the Department, the provision in our bill provides for expedited legislative consideration of the commission's recommendations--including an up-or-down vote on those recommendations without amendment. Our legislation would ensure that proposed changes do not break faith with the current force by expressly requiring that the commission's recommendations grandfather all members serving in the armed forces as of the date of enactment of the provision.
Third, the bill includes a provision requiring the Department of Defense to develop and implement a plan to reduce the size of its workforce of civilian employees and contractor employees by an amount commensurate with the 5 percent reduction in military end-strength planned through fiscal year 2017. This provision recognizes the reality that a reduction in military end-strength and force structure should be accompanied by a comparable reduction in supporting elements.
In recent years, we have come to understand the critical role played by the acquisition workforce--and the risk that we could lose billions of dollars in failed acquisition programs by trying save millions of dollars in ill-advised cuts to that workforce. But it is not just the acquisition workforce that plays a critical role in ensuring that our military is prepared to meet current and future challenges. DOD's civilian workforce also includes 45,000 nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals; 86,000 personnel in cybersecurity, information assurance and related fields; 15,000 personnel in science and technology; and 6,000 personnel in intelligence functions. Our civilian employee workforce plays a critical role in ensuring that our troops get the supplies that they need, that they receive the pay that they earn, that their bases are safe and well-maintained, and that their children receive the education that they deserve. Without this workforce, we would not be able to build, test, and maintain the weapon systems we need to face today's challenges, and we would not be able to conduct the research and development we need to keep our technological edge into the future.
In the current budget environment, however, no area of the Department of Defense can be off limits as we look for savings. I am well aware that the Department has already developed plans to reduce its civilian employee workforce by two to three percent over a 5-year period, and is achieving additional savings through an ongoing pay freeze for its civilian employees. However, these efficiencies initiatives were developed before the current budget crunch and fall short of the 5 percent reduction planned for military end strength. The cuts imposed on the Department's contractor employee workforce have been significantly less deep. The provision in our bill should ensure that savings achieved in the Department's civilian personnel workforce and contractor employee workforce are brought in line with the savings achieved through the newer, deeper cuts to military end strength. It is our expectation that the Department will utilize a deliberative, needs-based planning process to achieve this objective.
Finally, the bill includes a number of provisions on energy conservation, energy research, and alternative fuels. The Department of Defense is the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, spending close to $20 billion a year on purchases of fuel and electricity. I am pleased that the bill authorizes $150 million for the Energy Conservation Investment Program and $200 million for the research of innovative technologies, including technologies that will enhance energy security and independence, through the Rapid Innovation Program. In the long run, these 12 investments should result in substantial savings in fuel costs, reduce logistics requirements for military operations, and enhance our energy security.
The bill also contains two provisions--each adopted on a razor-thin 13-12 vote--restricting the Department's continued investment in alternative fuels. The first provision prohibits the use of fiscal year 2013 funds for the production or purchase of an alternative fuel if the cost exceeds the cost of traditional fossil fuels available for the same use. The second provision prohibits the Department from entering into a contract to plan, design, or construct a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels, unless specifically authorized by law. These provisions may result in short-term savings, but they will impose significant long-term costs by undermining the Department's efforts to diversify its fuel supplies and enhance its energy independence and security. It is my expectation that we will revisit these provisions as we debate this bill on the Senate floor.
As of today, we have roughly 1.4 million U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines serving on active duty--with tens of thousands engaged in combat in Afghanistan and stationed in other regional hotspots around the globe. While there are issues on which Members may disagree, we all know that we must provide our troops the support they need. Senate action on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 will improve the quality of life of our men and women in uniform and their families. It will give them the tools that they need to remain the most effective fighting force in the world. Most important of all, it will send an important message that we, as a Nation, stand behind them and appreciate their service.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this vital legislation.
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Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I support the amendment introduced by Senator Udall of Colorado. The purpose of this amendment is to strike section 313 from the National Defense Authorization Act that would place undue restrictions on Department of Defense's alternative energy investments. This provision, during our committee mark-up, passed by the closest of margins by a 13-12 vote.
Section 313 aims to block the Department from purchasing or producing alternative fuels if the cost exceeds that of traditional fossil fuels. This would force key decisions regarding energy security to be made exclusively on the basis of cost, without regard for the mission, military capability, or circumstance.
Maybe the intent of section 313 to kill the alternative fuel project currently being conducted under the authority of the Defense Production Act, Title III. However, the impact this provision would have on our military operators, creates a real strategic vulnerability to our men and women on the ground, which reach far beyond biofuels. For example, if the Department wanted to deploy a hydrogen-fueled unmanned aerial vehicle that could operate for an extended duration in a combat zone, this amendment would prevent that since the cost of hydrogen fuel may be higher than a traditional fossil fuel. Or if the Department wanted to generate fuel or energy at tactical locations, including waste-to-energy technology, which the DOD is exploring today, section 313 would again prevent that. Section 313 may also prevent the Department from purchasing non-traditional fossil fuels, such as E85 or B20 biofuel blends, for flex fuel vehicles. Potentially, any fuel which is not a ``traditional fossil fuel'' could be affected.
Mr. President, the sponsors of section 313 have focused on current high costs associated with the production of alternative fuels. However, Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, has already testified before the Armed Services Committee that the Navy will not purchase any alternative fuel for operational purposes until they are cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. It's as simple as that. The Department is positioning itself to take advantage of drop-in alternative fuels when they are cost competitive with traditional fossil fuels. This is a prudent insurance policy that requires investments today, which section 313 would prevent.
For years now, the Department has been subjected to significant spikes in the global price of oil, which has created huge bills to pay, leaving less funding for training exercises, flying hours, steaming days, and other negative impacts to readiness. The Department estimates that for every 25 cent increase in the prices of a gallon of oil, it costs the DOD an additional $1 billion to cover the costs, whether it is a result of foreign actions or natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. The advancement of a reliable, domestic energy source such as biofuel would provide us with a safeguard against such unpredictable expenses. In my view, global price volatility is a burden the Department should not be subjected to, particularly if it can be avoided by establishing a viable domestic alternative. Yet section 313 appears designed to ensure that the DOD remains entirely dependent upon traditional fossil fuels.
Admittedly, the current price for alternative fuel is high. For example, the Navy purchased biofuel this past July for demonstration purposes at approximately $16 per gallon. Yet small batches of any new technology are expensive, as that is the very nature of research and development. With time to develop a domestic alternative fuel market, the costs of alternative fuels will continue to drop, as the price has already been cut in half since 2009. Furthermore, our military has a rich history of innovation. Investments in technology such as global positioning services, microchips, and the Internet have each carried with them significant up-front costs, but have ultimately paid sizeable dividends far beyond their initial military usage.
The Navy has a notable and effective track record in the arena of alternative fuel development, going back to when the Navy first switched from sails to steam and coal in the 1850s. Once again from coal to oil around the time of World War I, and in the 1950s from oil to nuclear propulsion for aircraft carriers and submarines. And each period has had its complement of critics. Yet think of where we would be today without that long-term eye toward innovation and military capability.
In section 313 there is yet another practical problem in its exception clause, which allows the Department to continue engine or fleet certification of 50/50 fuel blends. That is far too narrow to cover the wide-ranging array of research and development activities conducted by the Department. In the future, it may be determined that the proper ratio for a weapons platform requires a blend of 60/40, or 70/30. Limiting the DOD to only 50/50 blends would put an entirely arbitrary restriction upon the Department, and is simply not wise.
Mr. President, the DOD and Secretary Mabus have told us that the development of a domestic capability to produce cost-competitive advanced drop-in biofuels at a commercial scale is important to our long-term national security. It is a core defense need. We were also reminded of our strategic vulnerability to fossil fuels and the need to improve our energy security in the last iteration of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. There are valid questions concerning how much a gallon of biofuel will cost in the long run compared to a traditional fossil fuel. Last year alone, the DOD purchased billions of gallons of fuel at a cost of $15.3 billion to conduct worldwide military operations. And we now pay 225 percent more for fossil fuel than we did just 10 years ago. And 12 percent of our gross domestic product goes to fuel for automobiles. By striking section 313, we allow the DOD the freedom to pursue a domestic production capability and it is a smart long-term investment.
Keeping section 313 would hinder efforts currently underway to curtail our reliance on foreign oil by fostering a domestic biofuel capacity. Those in opposition to the Department's alternative energy investments have argued that the cost of these initiatives is too high. They claim that the money would be better spent on other priorities within the DOD. Mr. President, these arguments are shortsighted. The Department has told us that investment in alternative fuels represents less than 4 percent of the Department's total planned investment in operational energy initiatives over the next 5 years, and less than 0.6 percent of what the Department spent on fuel last year. Our military leaders have stated time and again that it is in our national security interest to make these strategic investments, that there is a concrete need to increase flexibility and insulate our forces against volatility in the global oil market. For the future, our men and women in uniform will need alternative fuels to keep our supplies diverse and effective, especially for our legacy fleet of ships and planes, which will be with us for decades to come. The DOD has been examining, testing, and certifying alternative fuels for operational use since 2003. Last July, the Navy successfully demonstrated biofuels with no operational differences in the performance of their ships and aircraft. These efforts are relatively small, yet an important part of the Department's strategy to improve energy security.
Section 313 is in direct conflict with these goals. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is a strategic vision that has been articulated and embraced in the past on a bipartisan basis--by President George W. Bush in his 2006 State of the Union Address and by a large bipartisan majority in Congress in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. That bipartisan path is still the best approach today.
I thank Senator Udall and the co-sponsors for introducing this important amendment. I urge my colleagues to support this effort to ensure that our military has the flexibility necessary to meet their energy requirements and bolster our national security, by striking section 313.
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Mr. LEVIN. I have been talking now with Senator McCain. This is what our plan is for tonight and for the morning. In the morning, we would hope we would be able--we would first hope to address the Kyl amendment. We would hope to take up and dispose of the Kyl amendment first thing in the morning.
We would then expect to move to Senator Ayotte's amendment, to which there may or may not be a second-degree or a side-by-side amendment offered. After that matter is disposed of, we would expect then to move to a Hagan amendment. And, in between, it is our intent to offer cleared amendments.
I will let Senator McCain join me on this. But these are amendments which have been cleared. People will have a chance overnight to look at them and see if there is any reason that they want rollcall votes or voice votes on these. If there are, we expect they are going to have to come down, object, and vote on those matters. But our staff works hard. We work with the committees of jurisdiction, we work with people we believe have any interest in these amendments. We have perhaps 50 or 100 amendments which we are looking at.
We want to accommodate Senators. We also want to accommodate potential opponents. We have done our best to do both, sponsors and opponents. But that is our plan for tonight and for tomorrow morning. We expect we would then ask Senator Hagan to be recognized tonight to speak on an amendment, not to call it up but to speak on an amendment that she would be offering tomorrow in the queue which I just described.
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