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Chairman Frelinghuysen Statement on FY 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill

Washington, January 30, 2018 House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen made the following statement on the House floor today in support of H.R. 695, a bill that provides full-year funding for the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2018:

I thank the gentlelady from Texas for the time and for her leadership on national security issues as Chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.  Indeed, I’d like to thank all members of the Subcommittee - Republican and Democrat - and the staff, for the hard work on this important legislation.

Mr. Chairman, I rise once again to urge support for the FY 2018 Defense Appropriations bill, just as I did last July and again in September.

My Colleagues, I visited the Middle East twice last year, in addition to official trips to North Africa and Southeast Asia.  My goal was to assess U.S. posture in those regions - militarily and diplomatically - and I can tell you our nation’s competitive military advantage is eroding and our allies, partners and adversaries know it!

Yes, it is a fact that extremist terrorism remains a real danger to all parts of the world and our homeland.  No continent, region or country is immune.

However, strategic competition from Russia and China and near-term threats from North Korea and Iran are now the primary concern for the Department of Defense and our Intelligence Community.

At the same time, we are facing increased global disorder, creating security challenges that are more complex and more volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory.  Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are hardly islands of stability.  In fact, they are the sources of millions of refugees!

This environment is defined by rapid technological change and challenges from adversaries in every operating domain.

So how have we responded?  The reality is: not well enough!

In fact we have pushed our military toward its breaking point. Instead of upgrading our hardware, we have allowed our equipment to age. Instead of arming our troops for tomorrow’s fight, we have let them become seriously underequipped. Instead of right-sizing our Armed Forces to meet emerging threats, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have actually gotten smaller.

Mr. Chairman, we ask a great deal of our men and women in uniform. We ask them to leave their families to complete difficult training. We ask them to move from duty station to duty station without complaint. We ask them to tolerate long deployments far from home. We ask them to carry out dangerous missions in dangerous corners of the world. We ask them to re-enlist with their families to preserve the strength of our armed forces.

Every passing day of reduced military funding levels creates an ever-increasing risk for our men and women on the front lines. We should not ask them to continue to do more with less.

This full-year defense appropriations bill must be enacted now to begin the rebuilding of our Armed Forces in order to ensure the effectiveness and safety of our troops. Each day we permit our military to operate under a CR is a day that we are failing in our Constitutional duty to provide for the common defense.

Likewise, each day we fail to pass the other 11 appropriations bills for FY 18 is a day this Congress fail to do its job.  The House has done its work – approving of all 11 funding bills in mid-September – and it is time the Senate allow this critically important legislation to move forward.

I urge support of the legislation and yield back the balance of my time. 

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