Chairman Young Opening Statement on FY 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill for Full Committee Mark Up
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Before us today is the Subcommittee recommendation for the fiscal year 2013 Department of Defense budget. This recommendation includes base funding of $519.2 billion, which is $3.1 billion above the CBO estimate of the President’s request, and overseas contingency operations funding of $88.5 billion, the same as the request.
This allocation provided the Subcommittee with the resources to address shortfalls contained in the budget request. We examined these shortfalls very closely during the Subcommittee’s multiple hearings and briefings the past few months – especially the risks associated with Navy shipbuilding and Air Force force structure decisions. Let me take just a moment on each of these.
Despite a strategic shift in focus to the Asia-Pacific region, the Navy cut the shipbuilding program almost 11 percent below last year’s level in the request. The Navy also decided to retire 9 vessels, reduced the number of required ships from 313 to approximately 300, and removed two prized combatants – a Virginia Class Submarine and DDG-51 Destroyer – from their fiscal year 2014 budget.
Similarly, the Air Force’s budget assumed the retirement of over 300 aircraft, most from Air Guard and Reserve bases. Those losses, and subsequent mission reassignments, presented a serious dilemma for the Subcommittee as almost all States and Adjutants General voiced strong opposition to these moves, largely because of the loss of critical dual use aircraft.
In both cases, the Subcommittee attempted to mitigate as best as possible the risks created by these Navy and Air Force decisions.
In the case of the Navy, the recommendation provides funds to maintain and modernize three cruisers slated for decommissioning, and provides funds for an additional DDG-51 and advance procurement for a second Virginia Class submarine.
As for the Air Force, the recommendation provides funds to “pause” their force structure decisions, until such time they can better explain the costs and benefits associated with the plan, hopefully allowing enough time to find an agreeable solution for all those involved.
While these are two of the more significant recommendations the Subcommittee is making, there are numerous others – all equally beneficial. Additions for Facility and Weapons maintenance, Guard and Reserve equipment, combat loss replacements, as well as medical research collectively provide the Department with the resources required to modernize and maintain readiness at the levels needed for our military to preserve its standing as the most capable and superior armed forces in the world.
I committed long ago that that I would never write or support a bill which adversely affected any soldier or their family, or which had a negative impact on our nation’s readiness. I firmly believe we have kept that promise with the recommendation before us today.
Finally, let me take a moment to recognize and thank a few members of our Subcommittee who will not be with us next year – Mr. Lewis, a former chairman of both the Subcommittee and full committee, and Mr. Hinchey. Thank you both for your tremendous service and hard work on the Subcommittee.
And last but not least, I would like to thank Mr. Dicks, not just for his instrumental help on this bill before us, but for his friendship over the past 35 years. We have always worked together in a true bipartisan fashion, as we did again this year. He has been an invaluable partner and the Subcommittee will miss him.