Chair McCollum Statement at the Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense Budget Hearing

2021-05-27 13:07

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chair of the Defense Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense Budget Hearing. 

This afternoon the Committee will receive testimony from:

  • The Honorable Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense, and
  • General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gentlemen, thank you for participating and I welcome you to the subcommittee.

And for our members, this is the 19th and final hearing before we begin writing the 2022 spending bill. I appreciate your time and attention to the subcommittee’s business, and I hope that this is the last hearing we will hold on WebEx.

President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request proposes $715 billion, or $11 billion more than the enacted level.

To put that amount in perspective, in his last year in office President Trump requested only an $800 million increase. And six years ago, DoD received $560 billion - total. That means the Department’s budget has increased $144 billion in the last six years.

No matter how much we provide our Armed Forces, some will always argue it is not enough. There will always be new, and increasingly expensive, technologies to develop. Other countries will always pursue programs they believe are strategically advantageous to them.

Unlike other committees, the job of Appropriators is to see the full picture. As much attention as the top line for defense receives, we cannot consider the defense number in a vacuum. Investments in diplomacy, development, and our economy are vital to our security interests.

There is no military mightier, no country that has built stronger alliances, and no other government that has done more to help people across the world than the United States of America. The key to successful competition with Russia and China is through a combination of economic, diplomatic, and military strength – not simply with one alone.

In many of our hearings we have heard witnesses describe China’s efforts to modernize its military and expand its influence around the world. We cannot fall into a trap of thinking that China is 10 feet tall. But we will not allow for capability gaps in key weapons systems so that we can deter our adversaries and defend our nation. I look forward to reviewing President Biden’s full budget request through those lenses tomorrow.

We have a responsibility to scrutinize every line in the budget request, and rest assured that our committee will fulfill our constitutional duty to make adjustments to the President’s proposal.

I agree with the Administration – we need to make difficult choices, and make them together. We must modernize. Doing so requires us to not only make investments in new technologies, but to ramp down spending on systems that we know are not capable or survivable in a high-end fight. We simply cannot spend taxpayer dollars on ineffective platforms.

Additionally, we must face the reality of the world in which we live. Climate change significantly impacts our security. The displacement of millions of people can have a destabilizing effect in regions prone to insecurity. We have too many installations that are susceptible to extreme weather events, which leads to many days when troops cannot train. For the Department of Defense, combating climate change isn’t about engaging in social politics. And as the largest procurer of energy in the federal government, we must work with the Department to make it more energy efficient - which will make them more effective in the event our adversaries target our energy supplies.

With 2.1 million uniformed personnel, the Department and Services face the same problems that plague our society, such as extremism and sexual assault. Funding alone cannot solve our nation’s societal problems, and I look forward to hearing our witnesses discuss what they are doing in these important areas.

I want to close by thanking the Department of Defense for the incredible work it has done battling the COVID-19 pandemic on behalf of our nation. From our healthcare and medical research professionals, to those providing logistical support, to the National Guard soldiers delivering shots in their communities, I want to thank you for your service in this difficult year on behalf of this Committee.

Finally, we are holding this hearing before the release of the full budget request. We understand that this may limit your ability to answer certain questions. Given the tight timeframe we will have to write the bill, I ask that you be prepared to respond to members on any specific budget questions that are asked today immediately after the full request is submitted.

117th Congress