Chair McCollum Statement at Future Defense Spending Hearing

2021-02-24 09:37

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chair of the Defense Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on Future Defense Spending:

Because of the delay in the release of President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget, over the next few months we will hear from a diverse number of viewpoints: on emerging threats, regions that deserve more attention, and defense spending at large.

The information will help us later in the year when we analyze the budget request.

This is the first of those hearings we will hold to examine larger issues impacting the subcommittee. In today’s hearing, we will focus on a possible future of defense spending. 

We will not only look at the direction the Pentagon may take us in the next five years, known as the Future Years Defense Program, but we also stand to benefit by thinking where we want to be ten or twenty years from now.

That way when we write the 2022 Defense Appropriations Act, we do so with medium and long-term goals in mind. 

This is a new era for our committee. We have a new president in the White House and new leadership at the Department of Defense.  In Congress, 64% of members of the House were elected after the Budget Control Act was enacted, something I did not vote for. This will be the first time in ten years we will be preparing a budget without the caps and firewalls on defense and non-defense investments that the Budget Control Act placed on Congress.

So, these hearings will provide a great opportunity to reassess what our future national security budget priorities are – on both the defense and the
non-defense side. Because we know that the investments on domestic priorities like education and workforce development directly impact America’s national security workforce.

How do we work with the Biden administration shape a more diverse workforce at the Department of Defense that reflects the changing fabric of America? What kind of defense budget do we want to see - not only in Fiscal Year 2022 but how do we shape our national priorities five and ten years out? And yes, how can take a harder look at or even cut strategically unnecessary or outdated programs that just aren’t working?

As Appropriators who make the critical decisions on where our tax dollars will be used, we have a responsibility to ask all of these questions. That is the work that this committee will tackle in the months ahead, and I look forward to the contributions of every member of this subcommittee as we do that.

But today, we have three witnesses:

Ms. Elizabeth Field, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management
at the U.S. Government Accountability Office

Mr. Todd Harrison, Director of Defense Budget Analysis
at the Center for Strategic Studies.

And Dr. Thomas Mahnken, President and CEO
of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

We welcome them, and we look forward to the testimony.

117th Congress