Chairman Rogers Opening Statement at FY 2013 Defense Full Committee Mark Up

May 17, 2012

Thank you, Chairman Young and Mr. Dicks, for your remarks and your laudable leadership on this Committee. You both, as well as our dedicated staffs, have helped craft an excellent bill that provides the necessary resources to keep our country safe and that will advance our important missions around the globe.

I’d like to take this time to express my gratitude to Mr. Dicks for being an excellent partner and leader over the years. His involvement and expertise has been a tremendous asset to the Committee, and we look forward to working with him for as long as he graces us with his presence. The same goes for Jerry Lewis, who has been both a member and a chairman of this subcommittee for many years. It won’t be the same without them.

A strong national defense has long been the hallmark of our great Nation and the number-one priority of Congress. Freedom isn’t free - continued threats to our sovereignty and our way of life, the sustained costs of war, and the impact our conflicts have on our military and their families are constant reminders of that. We must maintain our military preparedness, be ready to face whatever comes our way, and support those who lay their lives on the line for their country.

The Defense Appropriations bill before us today shores up critical national security needs, while finding efficiencies and trimming unnecessary spending wherever possible. In total, we’ve provided $519.2 billion in non-war funding – an increase of $1.1 billion over last year and more than $3 billion above the President’s request.

The legislation includes funding for critical national security needs, and provides the necessary resources to continue the nation’s military efforts abroad. In addition, the bill provides essential funding for health and quality of life programs for the men and women of the Armed Services and their families. The bill also contains $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations to continue the Global War on Terror.

Wherever possible, and where the safety or success of our troops and missions is not at risk, we’ve made spending reductions. Some of these cuts include: DoD-requested adjustments, such as decreases in force levels; the termination of the Medium Extended Air Defense System; and rescissions from unnecessary and un-used prior-year funding. No program or agency should be given carte blanche, so we’ve included strong oversight measures that help ensure investments in our defense will have the best returns on our safety, security and success overseas. It is a great achievement that we have been able to find savings without causing undue setbacks to our military readiness, or increasing the risks incurred by our warfighters.

All said, I think we have a successful, bipartisan bill before us today – one that deserves our support. Our troops should never have to worry about being adequately cared for both in battle and when they return home, nor should the American people have to worry about the strength of their national defense. I urge my colleagues to vote ‘aye’ on this bill.