Chair DeLauro Statement at Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2023 Defense Funding Bill

2022-06-22 11:29
Statement

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2023 Defense bill:

Thank you, to you, Chairwoman McCollum, and to Ranking Member Calvert, and all the Members of the subcommittee for your efforts on the Defense bill that is before us. And thank you to all the subcommittee staff. Your dedication to our security, our global leadership, and our military readiness are reflected in this bill.

Threats to our national security and against global democracy from adversaries around the world are growing and require a powerful response. As we protect our standing abroad, we must simultaneously confront the changing realities impacting our servicemembers at home. This bill ensures we are capable to do this – we will be even better prepared to protect ourselves and support our allies while honoring our women and men in uniform.

This bill was also informed by 18 hearings – I might add the most of any subcommittee – on everything from the posture of the military’s combatant commands and medical readiness to environmental restoration and the changing needs of the Intelligence Community.

I am proud of this bill, which provides nearly $762 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of over $33 billion above 2022. It is noteworthy that this would be the second year in a row that this subcommittee’s bill has grown by $33 billion, providing the Department of Defense with a level of funding $66 billion higher than in 2021. That doesn’t even account for the $27 billion in additional emergency funding provided across both Ukraine supplementals. And that totals about $93 billion.

And although we are currently discussing the defense appropriations bill, I want to remind my colleagues that this funding is in addition to the tens of billions in defense spending in other bills. We invest in the working and living conditions of members of the military in the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs bill. We address important defense-related environmental concerns and nuclear nonproliferation in the Energy and Water Development bill. And we shore up anti-terrorism and cybersecurity efforts in the Commerce, Justice, Science and the Homeland Security bills.

As we begin to debate this bill and move it through committee consideration, I want to make it abundantly clear that the topline funding level in this bill is in line with President Biden’s budget request and endorsed by Secretary of Defense General Austin when he testified before our committee earlier this year. It was developed with the deepest concern for our national security and with a commitment to protect our nation and to confront any threat that may come our way.

I might also add, in view of the commentary on inflation. I think it’s important to note that inflation does not depreciate the value of defense spending on a dollar-for-dollar basis. In many cases, DOD’s contractual arrangements actually insulate the Pentagon from the effects of inflation. That’s why we have given thoughtful consideration, as Chair McCollum has pointed out. And what we shouldn’t do is try to deal with opportunism of leveraging rising prices to make our case in terms of thoughtful consideration of increasing the Defense budget, which we are doing.

I also might add that the effects of inflation affect the Pentagon as well as the high costs of living on individuals’ checkbooks. Middle class, working families, small businesses, the vulnerable who are working hard, especially need a lifeline.

Just a couple of points:

If inflation affects the Pentagon, it also affects farmers—that is why we will consider critical investments for food and nutrition services in the Agriculture bill at tomorrow’s markup.

If inflation affects the Pentagon, it affects health care. And that is the moral imperative that we have to deal with robust funding for Veterans Medical Care, and the public health supports provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.

If inflation affects the Pentagon it affects domestic infrastructure, including housing as well. Inflation does not have a border on one set of programs that we take up in our consideration. It has a much broader context.

We are seeing, by the way, that we need to deal, as this bill does, with our national security, protect our nation, to confront any threat that comes our way. We are seeing this need play out on the global stage right now.

Vladimir Putin’s unyielding pursuit of power and Russia’s attack on Ukrainian democracy require strong funding for DoD and the Intelligence Community. As we support Ukraine and other allies abroad, we are continuing to provide critical security assistance in the form of training, military equipment, and increased intelligence support.

Alongside funding to respond to Russian attacks on global democracy, this bill invests in our response to China’s aggression around the world with robust funding to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As the existential threat of climate continues to impact our security and our military readiness, this bill invests $2.5 billion in clean energy and climate adaptation initiatives that protect our facilities, the viability of our military installations, and global security.

And to ensure we continue to be at the forefront of military innovation, this bill includes significant funding for research and development programs. These funds are also essential to maintaining our domestic advanced manufacturing base, which sustains millions of American jobs and grows our economy.

As we invest in programs that keep Americans safe, we also uphold our nation’s values with language to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and by limiting U.S. involvement in Yemen.

Upholding these values means ensuring that our military personnel and those who support them are paid a living wage. This bill prioritizes working families by requiring contractors to pay a $15 minimum wage and by providing the investments necessary to fund the proposed 4.6 percent military pay raise.

At the same time, we are improving educational opportunities and child care available to our servicemembers and their families. $300 million to support construction of public schools on military bases. We are increasing funding for the maintenance of childcare development centers, increasing pay for the employees that support them.

Every single person who protects us deserves protections from assault and harassment, something tragically but viciously common in the military. This bill addresses violence against women by tackling sexual assault and harassment in the military with $479 million to implement the necessary and recommended changes of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment. It supports the mental health of those who serve with suicide prevention funds. And it directs DoD to address extremist ideologies, including white supremacy.

This bill makes the investments that meet current challenges and prepare us for the future. We live up to our moral responsibility to support our allies and servicemembers and I am so proud of this bill.

Again I thank the Chairwoman and Ranking Member. And also I want to say thanks to Chris Bigelow and all the majority staff: Kyle McFarland, Jason Gray, Jackie Ripke, Jennifer Chartrand, Matt Bower, Walter Hearne, David Bortnick, Ariana Sarar, Hayden Milberg, Bill Adkins, Shannon Richter, and Paul Kilbride. And Johnnie Kaberle and all the minority staff: Nick Vance, Jamie McCormick, and Kiya Batmanglidj.”

 

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Subcommittees: 
117th Congress