Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech


Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite numbers of words.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. HOLT. I rise in support of the amendment of the gentleman from Massachusetts.

You know, all of Washington inside the Beltway is abuzz about how much we can save by cutting Federal spending. As the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) said, to us, this amendment is a test. Will we put every Federal agency's budget on the table in our quest to control spending and reduce debt, or are there privileged categories? Will we continue down the path of trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, the disabled, schoolchildren, and seniors?

The Pentagon spending bill before us, some $650 billion, nearly two-thirds of a trillion dollars, is about equal to all military spending of all the rest of the world--all of our allies, all of our potential adversaries, and all of those countries that Americans rarely think about all put together.

The amendment that Mr. Frank and I and some of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle are offering today is truly a modest proposal. It would simply cut the rate of increase in Pentagon spending. Instead of allowing a $17 billion increase over this year's level, it would cut that increase in half just to see if we are willing to do that.

Now, my colleague, Mr. Cole, puts this, I think, in the wrong context. I mean, we should talk about, sure, in 1960 it was a larger part of the budget. That is before we had Medicare, before we had a lot of programs. But when you ask yourself is our military structured to deal with the problems this country faces and to expect from other countries in the world their share of what must be done, the answer surely is this is an unsustainable size.

This amendment was born out of a series of discussions among Mr. Frank and Mr. Paul and Mr. Jones and some other Members and I have had over several months. Recently, we sent a joint letter that outlined our concerns about the state of our spending on national security. We point out not only the excessive, unquestioned overall size of military spending, but also that this is a result of the military that is indeed a remnant of the Cold War, to go back to Mr. Cole's comments. And it bears far more than our share of keeping the peace and is still structured to overwhelm the Soviet Union more than to deal with today's actual threats to our security.

To take one example that the cosponsors of this amendment may or may not agree with me on but we might ask: Why do we need a replacement for the B-2 bomber?

It was not the B-2 bomber or any bomber that killed Osama bin Laden. It was U.S. Special Operations. Buying new nuclear bombers would simply be a form, I think, of defense sector corporate welfare to protect against a threat that went away decades ago. I could cite multiple additional disconnects between our defense spending priorities and the actual threats we face.

One that comes to mind is Libya. As we note in our letter, it has been widely reported in the press that England and France have been pressing the United States to resume its earlier role in Libya because they've been unable to assume it themselves. The explanation is that only America has the capacity to respond.

Our point precisely.

We have allowed other nations in the world to grow into an overdependence on America's military and America's tax dollars and the expenditure of American money and lives far beyond what's appropriate for our share of world peacekeeping. All of us who support this amendment want to protect our country. That's precisely why we've offered our proposal and this amendment: To put ourselves on track for a better structured military.

Spending money on cold war-era weapons to wage undeclared wars of choice is clear evidence of misguided, needlessly expensive priorities. If the House cannot even pass an amendment that simply cuts the rate of increase in Pentagon spending, it will never pass amendments that actually make the kinds of cuts that are truly necessary to restructure our defense in order to meet the real threats we face and to achieve the budget savings that we must secure for our financial future.

I urge my colleagues to support this modest first step to rein in our out-of-control defense budget.

I yield back the balance of my time.