Calvert Remarks at FY23 Defense Full Committee Markup
Thank you, Chair McCollum. I would first like to commend you for your diligent and detailed work in crafting the bill before us today. I would also like to recognize and thank all the members of the subcommittee for their hard work and commitment to our national security.
Since March, we have held 18 hearings with senior leaders to consider the needs of the Department of Defense. This work, along with careful budget analysis done by the staff and Members of the committee, culminates in today’s markup the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2023. Additionally, over the last five months, this committee has done all that it can to support the free and democratic nation of Ukraine, but these actions should not be mistaken for success.
This Administration’s National Defense policy of “Integrated Deterrence” has failed, and the American taxpayer is shouldering the burden of the over $50 billion in spending because of it. In April of 2021, Russia had more troops on Ukraine’s border than at any time since 2014, when it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. This president did nothing. Actually, he did worse than nothing. For months he told the Russians exactly what he would or would not do, further eroding America’s position.
On February 24th, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine causing tens of thousands of deaths, and the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. The goal of strategic deterrence is to dissuade adversaries from launching an attack. This president’s transparent military strategy, underfunded budget requests, and his focus on everything but lethality gave Putin the opportunity he needed to seize the moment.
Weakness is provocative, and this Congress must ensure that the failure to deter Russia is not repeated in Taiwan or anywhere else that sovereign nations seek freedom from coercive and expansionist powers. We can avoid further chaos by sending a strong message to our adversaries and allies with a Defense bill that meets our global requirements.
As we consider this bill today there are many parts of this bill that I strongly support, including a 4.6% pay raise for uniform personnel, key investments in advanced technologies, and additional support for our partners like Ukraine. The chair also included many priorities for Republican Members of both this committee and the conference at large, for which I thank her.
However, I am deeply troubled that this bill also includes many proposals that will not garner any bipartisan support. This includes the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, the decreased investment in one of the Air Force’s hypersonic missile programs, excessive funding for climate change programs, and a general provision regarding abortion.
Most importantly, I want to reiterate my opposition to the topline amount proposed by both the administration and this bill. With inflation at 8.6%, this bill proposes an effective cut to the DOD, at a time when it needs increased funding the most.
Republicans support a budget framework that is strategy driven and lasered focused on the threat environment. Failing to increase the topline will directly result in a loss of combat capability and readiness. Without additional funding, we cannot procure additional fifth-generation fighters, more ships for our naval fleet, or more training that our warfighters need to be ready in any conflict.
We also know that with record-high inflation, the funding levels proposed in this bill will be inadequate to fully resource the quantities requested. While the department has promised to send us updated cost estimates across the procurement accounts, they have yet failed to do so.
However, inflation isn’t only impacting procurement, it is also adversely impacting our service members and their families. I believe that more work needs to be done to mitigate the impacts of increased costs on our service members and their families, such as food and fuel. I look forward to working more with the chair on this issue.
Looking around the globe, it is easy to see that we need to be doing more to improve our strategic posture. China is rapidly developing its naval fleet, it just launched its third, most capable aircraft carrier; Russia has brutally and illegally invaded Ukraine; and North Korea is continuing to develop its nuclear arsenal.
Throughout this year, we have heard from geographic combatant commanders who have all reiterated the need for resources to counter these adversaries. We cannot take our military superiority for granted – we must invest now, and wisely, to ensure we can meet the threat and, most importantly, maintain peace.
While I thank the chair for her hard work in drafting the bill before us today, my colleagues and I will continue to oppose a bill that does not adequately resource our warfighting needs.
As President and Five-Star General Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "The only way to win the next world war is to prevent it." The only way to do that is with a fully funded and ready U.S. military. I thank the chair and the staff again for their work on this bill, and I yield back.