Chairman Frelinghuysen Floor Statement on H.R. 6157, the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill

Jun 26, 2018

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen today gave the following statement on the House floor in support of H.R. 6157, the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill:

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 6157, the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill.

I leave it to the Chair of the Defense Subcommittee - Ms. Granger of Texas - to outline the specific recommendations of the Committee.  But I do want to note that, in total, the bill provides $675.6 billion for the Department of Defense – $606.5 billion in base discretionary funding, and $68.1 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding.

This total is consistent with the bicameral Bipartisan Budget Agreement (BBA) hammered out last Spring.  

In addition to the increased funding in this bill, the BBA has provided critically important stability and predictability to the Department of Defense, the military services and our defense industrial base.   Enhancing their ability to plan - even in the short-term – is good news for our national defense and that of our partners.

For the future, I am deeply concerned that a return to the arbitrary caps established under the Budget Control Act eight years ago will also force a return to the short-sighted, budget-driven thinking on national security spending that took place in recent years.

Mr. Chairman, the rebuilding of our military continues today with this legislation. This bill includes funding for more equipment, more munitions, more troops, and more training.

Restoring readiness is a key focus of this legislation. We routinely ask our men and women in uniform - all volunteers - to go to great lengths to complete their missions, and they must be well-trained, well-equipped, and well-supported. That’s why this bill includes $246 billion for operation and maintenance – funding that will provide for more battle training, more flight hours, more steaming days, and more depot maintenance.

The bill also includes a total of $144 billion for military personnel – increasing the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. I would also note that we provide a 2.6 percent pay raise for our troops – the largest military pay raise in nine years.

The bill also looks after our Armed Forces and their families by providing funding for the Defense Health Program, continuing critical research and sustaining the well-being of our military’s most valuable resource – its people.

Beyond these important investments that will rebuild our military in the near term, the bill prepares for the future – provides research and development funding to modernize our military to meet current and future threats: the continued menace of terrorist networks like ISIS and Al Qaida in the Middle East and Southeast Asia; ongoing threats presented by Iran and North Korea; the belligerent re-emergence of Russia; and the military expansionism of China.

Mr. Chairman, the legislation also acknowledges emerging dangers at home and abroad posed by drones, cyber-war and transnational crime, and makes investments in capabilities such as ISR and AI to prepare and protect against these threats.

In short, this bill prepares our warfighters to meet any challenge, anywhere, anytime.    

Before I close, I would like to thank the professional staff who brought this bill to the floor today: Jennifer Miller, Walter Hearne, Brooke Boyer, B.G. Wright, Allison Deters, Collin Lee, Matthew Bower, Jackie Ripke (Rip-Kee), Hayden Milberg, and Bill Adkins with the Majority, and Becky Leggieri and Jennifer Chartrand with the Minority.

I’d also like to thank the staff in the Front Office and my personal office: Nancy Fox, Maureen Holohan, Shannon O’Keefe, Jason Gray, Marta Hernandez, Jennifer Hing, Tammy Hughes, Rachel Kahler, Parker van de Water, and Tom Doelp from the Majority; Shalanda Young and Chris Bigelow from the Minority; and Katie Hazlett, Steve Wilson, Austin Bone, Steve Silvestri, Chris Hansell, and Kacy Hobbis in my personal office.

I’d like to offer special recognition to Stephen Sepp, the Committee’s resident budget expert. “Sepp,” as he was best known, passed away on June 15, but he has left his mark on this bill. Along many other things, “Sepp” was the caretaker of the 302(b) suballocations, and through his careful work from his desk and from home in the final months of a terminal illness, he ensured that the Congress provided adequate funding, not just for the Department of Defense, but all 12 Appropriations bills.

I am grateful to “Sepp” for his decade of service to the Committee and to this Congress, and extend my deepest sympathy to his wife and children.  

Mr. Chairman, the Department of Defense Appropriations bill before the House today is the largest, and arguably, the most important bill of our annual Appropriations process.

Its passage is absolutely critical to the security of our nation. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 6157.