Chair McCollum Statement at the Fiscal Year 2022 United States Navy and Marine Corps Budget Hearing

2021-04-29 11:07

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chair of the Defense Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 United States Navy and Marine Corps Budget:

This afternoon the Committee will receive testimony on the posture of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

Our three witnesses are:

  • The Honorable Thomas Harker, Acting Secretary of the Navy,
  • Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations;
  • and General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps

All three witnesses have long and distinguished careers serving our country.  Secretary Harker, this is your first time testifying before the Committee. We welcome you and thank you for your service. Admiral Gilday and General Berger both testified before the Committee last year. Welcome back and thank you both for being here.

While the hearing today will cover a multitude of topics, I will quickly highlight a few. 

Earlier this year, the Committee held a hearing on climate change and its effect on national security. 

There can be no doubt that our climate is changing, and the Department of Defense must be prepared or suffer the consequences. 

No military Service is going to feel the effects of climate change as uniquely as the Navy and Marine Corps with missions that rely on being able to navigate waterways. 

Additionally, we must ensure that we understand and prepare for how the changing climate will affect the Arctic region and its security. 

Turning to shipbuilding, for the last several years the Department of Defense has maintained a requirement for a 355 ship Navy. 

However, past budgets have not fully supported this requirement and the Committee has been left to find additional resources. 

We would like to better understand the thought process of the Department regarding this year’s shipbuilding plan. 

Additionally, we understand that the Marine Corps is embarking upon a modernization effort, Force Design 2030.

This will require an investment in research and development,
as well as a divestment of legacy platforms that may no longer have a role in this new method of operation.

The Committee looks forward to receiving more details on Force Design 2030 in the FY22 budget request.

But it must not be lost in our discussion on issues of procurement or force design that people should be the Department’s number one priority.

And the Committee is interested in hearing about the programs that prioritize the welfare of Sailors, Marines, and their families, including ensuring that prompt medical care, childcare, and family programs are available worldwide.

We also need to hear how the Navy and Marine Corps are combatting sexual assault and extremism in your ranks.

Are the number of incidents increasing or declining? What are you doing to ensure they move in the right direction, and are you properly resourced to accomplish this?

We understand this is a challenging time for the Navy and Marine Corps and we want to work in coordination with you to ensure you are receiving the required resources to maintain readiness, support personnel, and modernize for the future fight. 

At the same time, we must conduct thorough oversight of every dollar requested to ensure that taxpayer funds are being spent wisely. 

We will continue to ask the difficult questions to ensure the right programs are being fully funded. 

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.

With that, I thank you again for appearing before the Committee today to discuss these important issues. 

117th Congress