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Public Statements

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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I will vote for the bill before us because it ensures the continued operation of government. The overall spending in the bill conforms to the Budget Control Act yet provides needed flexibility for agencies to operate as best they can while under sequestration.

I will continue to seek a comprehensive, bipartisan approach to avoid the harmful effects of sequestration. Any compromise to do so will require both prudent spending cuts and additional revenues. Considering that revenues are necessary as part of the way to alleviate the negative effects of the sequester, this bill is not the appropriate vehicle to address our current budgetary situation. I am hopeful that by passing this bill and ensuring no government shutdown occurs, we can work in a bipartisan and responsible manner to undo sequestration.

This bill does contain important funding for Michigan, including $210.5 million for Army research on combat vehicle and automotive technologies through the Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, TARDEC, in Warren. TARDEC is the Department of Defense's leading laboratory for research and development of advanced military vehicle technologies, including efforts to protect Army vehicles against rocket propelled grenades, improvised explosive devices and explosively formed projectiles; advanced materials for tactical vehicle armor; more efficient engines; fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles; unmanned ground vehicles; computer simulations for vehicle design and training of Army personnel; and technology partnerships with the automotive industry.

The bill also includes funding for the programs of the Army's TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, LCMC, in Warren. TACOM LCMC is the Army's lead organization for the development and acquisition of ground vehicle combat, automotive and armaments technologies and systems. TACOM LCMC-managed systems include the Abrams main battle tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Stryker Armored Vehicle, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, and all Army tactical vehicles, such as the HMMWV and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles.

The bill provides full funding for transportation programs authorized under MAP-21, the 2-year transportation bill signed into law in July that provides critically needed funding for our Nation's roads and bridges. This is a victory because the CR for the first half of the year, and the House-passed CR, do not include the full funding levels authorized in MAP 21.

The bill also provides needed support for American manufacturing. The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, MEP, receives level funding at $128.5 million. It is the only Federal program dedicated to providing technical support and services to small and medium-sized manufacturers. MEP is a nationwide network of proven resources that enables manufacturers to compete globally, supports greater supply chain integration, and provides access to information, training and technologies that improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

This program has been used extensively in my home State by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, which operates the Michigan's Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program. MMTC works with manufacturers around the State of Michigan to innovate so they can become more efficient and profitable in order to grow and create jobs.

The bill protects the life and safety of boaters on the Great Lakes by including a provision that denies the administration request to close the U.S. Coast Guard Seasonal Air Facilities in Muskegon. Closing the station would put at risk the large number of boaters on Lake Michigan during the summer. The Muskegon facility has been in place since 1997 and provides an important safety presence during the boating season on Lake Michigan.

During the course of consideration of the Continuing Resolution, the Senate adopted by voice vote an amendment offered by Senators Coburn and McCain that will limit the use of funds of the National Science Foundation for political science research. The amendment was modified before it was adopted under an agreement between the sponsors and Chairman Mikulski and represented a significant improvement over the original amendment. The amendment as modified allows for political science research projects to be conducted when the Director of the National Science Foundation certifies those projects as promoting the economic interests or national security of the United States. I am concerned that this amendment will restrict high quality research in critical areas beyond our national security and economic interests and creates a threshold for certifying eligible political science research projects that could eliminate very worthy projects, if it is not applied wisely and thoughtfully. I hope that a broad interpretation will avoid unnecessary restrictions of legitimate research.

I am disappointed that the continuing resolution does not provide for adequate funding for our financial markets regulators, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. I worked with a number of my colleagues on an amendment to improve their funding to ensure they have the resources they need to police the markets. Unfortunately that was not adopted.

On balance, while the bill does not contain sufficient funding for many programs, it also contains funding important to Michigan and ensures the continued operation of government. For this reason, I will vote for it.


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