Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017

Floor Speech

Date: May 18, 2016
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MULVANEY of South Carolina. Mr. Chair, parliamentary inquiry.

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Mr. MULVANEY of South Carolina. Where are we?

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Mr. MULVANEY of South Carolina. Mr. Chair, that was the quickest 25 pages I have heard in a long time. Amendment Offered by Mr. Mulvaney

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Mr. MULVANEY of South Carolina. Mr. Chair, I have four consecutive amendments that are all very closely intertwined. There are actually four simply for procedural matters that I offered originally as one. I am going to argue all of them together essentially at one time because this is what they do: they get rid of the OCO budget. That is it. They get rid of the OCO budget. Title IV of this bill is the OCO budget, and my amendments seek to simply be done with this thing.

Mr. Chair, it has turned into a slush fund. That is not me saying that, by the way. That is folks from both Republican and Democrat administrations, together, saying that is what this is. It may have started with the best of intentions. It may have started out of absolute necessity. It may have been a good thing when it started, but we all know what it is now, which is a place to hide money and a way to get around spending caps. That is it.

Mr. Chair, I hope I get a chance over the course of the next couple of appropriations bills to talk more about the OCO and more about specific examples of how it is abused. We actually now admit that we abuse it. We admit that there is money in the OCO budget that has nothing to do with overseas contingency operations. We admit that there is money in the OCO budget right now that has nothing to do with waging war overseas.

We admit that we abuse this particular account. Why? Because we can and because it is very difficult to vote against the troops. That is not the right way to appropriate money.

John McCain, a man with whom I usually disagree on many, many things, has actually said this is not the way to appropriate money for MILCON-VA, for the DOD. For anything that has to do with defense, this is not the proper way to do it. Mr. Chair, in fact, as we look at the individual sections, it gets even worse.

In this first section that deals with the Army, we are appropriating $18.9 million for no one knows what. There is no indication whatsoever as to what we are spending this money on. The language is very straightforward. It reads that we are going to go and appropriate $18.9 million to remain available until September 30, 2021, for projects outside the United States. Period. That is it. $19 million with absolutely no indication of where it is being spent. In fact, we don't even have to spend it next year. We can spend it anytime we want to over the next 5 years. As long as it is outside of the United States, we are approving its expenditure.

By the way, you can go down to the next line where the same is true of the $59.8 million for the Marine Corps construction, of the $88.2 million for the Air Force construction, and then of the $5 million for military construction defensewide.

There is no indication of how this money is being spent. There is no limitation on when it is spent other than we have to spend it in 5 years, and there is no indication on where it is going to be spent other than it has to be outside of the United States. That is it. It is hard for me to imagine an example of a less accountable, a less transparent way for us to spend money in this country.

I have been spending some time on this for the last couple of years. I have always thought that this was a bad way for us to operate. I know that, every single year, we gather a couple more in adherence to that belief. We get a couple more votes every single year--folks who are finally waking up to the fact that, listen, we need to spend money on the military, that we need to spend money on the defense of this Nation. It is one of the few things we are affirmatively charged with in our Constitution, but this is not the way to do it.

We can't lie to people back home about how much money we are spending. We can't lie to people back home about what the deficit is going to be. We certainly can't lie to them about where they are spending their money. Let's stop doing it this way and start doing it properly.

Mr. Chair, for that reason, I encourage the support for this amendment.

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