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Public Statements

Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Unknown

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Mr. THORNBERRY. I appreciate the chairman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I've got to observe that I wish that all of the Members on both sides of the aisle who decry sequestration today had voted with those of us who passed bills twice last year to target cuts rather than having this across-the-board approach. This bill, like sequestration, is not what any of us would like. If it were up to me, for example, I would replace the money that it takes out of Defense and probably rearrange a lot of the domestic spending as well. Imperfect as this measure is, I believe it is absolutely essential that we pass it today. I want to focus for just a second on Defense.

Even if you spend the same amount of money on a continuing resolution or on an appropriation bill, it makes an enormous amount of difference which of those vehicles one uses because, in a regular appropriation bill, you can have the flexibility to meet the current needs. With a CR, you are locked into last year's levels, and that breeds inefficiencies and waste. So just to get the same amount of equipment, for example, it takes more money under a CR than it does under a regular appropriation bill.

You just had the question posed: Why do this just for Defense? Why treat Defense differently and have a full appropriation bill for Defense and MILCON and Veterans and not the rest of it? Let me offer some answers:

Number one is because we can. Both the House and Senate appropriators have negotiated a Defense appropriation bill. It is there for us to take and include in this measure, so Chairman Rogers has picked it up and included it in this CR.

A second reason is that the House and Senate have passed and the President has signed into law a Defense authorization bill that is consistent with this appropriation bill. There is no other area of government that has done that. So if you look at what already is the law, passing an appropriation bill to implement it makes sense.

A third reason is that Defense took a disproportionate share of the cuts under sequestration. Defense is 18 percent of the Federal budget. It had to absorb 50 percent of the cuts. It took a disproportionate share, and therefore some relief from the constraints will be had by the continuing resolution and make sense especially for Defense.

I'll tell you a fourth reason to treat Defense differently is that defense is the first job of the Federal Government. We send our soldiers and intelligence community personnel to all parts of the world to risk their lives to defend us, and it seems to me that the least we could do is give them the flexibility and support they need to do their jobs.

Therefore, I think it is absolutely essential for the country's defense that we pass this appropriation bill, and I urge all Members on both sides of the aisle to support it.

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