Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on FY 2020 DOD Budget Request
Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget request for the Department of Defense:
Thank you, Chairman Visclosky, for holding this important hearing. Welcome Acting Secretary Shanahan, General Dunford, and Acting Deputy Secretary Norquist. Thank you for your service.
In the last two years, the world has become more dangerous, with adversaries seeking to harm the United States and our interests around the world. The Department of Defense’s ability to address an evolving threat landscape is of paramount importance, and the security of our nation as well as our allies depends on your success.
While I am pleased your budget focuses on readiness and further strengthening our military, I am concerned by the shortsightedness of shifting nearly $100 billion into OCO accounts.
Your Fiscal Year 2020 budget for this subcommittee requests $697.263 billion, which includes a staggering $163.98 billion for OCO. The OCO request is further divided into two categories: OCO at $66.7 billion and OCO-for-base activities at $97.9 billion.
Of the $97.9 billion for OCO-for-base, $85.2 billion is requested for the Operation and Maintenance Account, which funds readiness for all of DOD.
We owe it to our service members and their families to put forth serious spending proposals. The idea of using OCO spending for base requirements is a thinly-veiled attempt to skirt budget caps and increase defense spending without a complementary increase for non-defense spending.
Moreover, requesting OCO funds for base is fiscally irresponsible, as costs to increase end strength dovetail in future spending bills as service members receive raises and eventual pensions. Our service members deserve the stability and to know they will be taken care of in the future, and the Administration’s proposal makes that less likely.
Our national security apparatus does not exist in a vacuum; it relies on the health and stability of Americans and our economy, and this requires adequate budgeting and investments in both defense and non-defense priorities.
Thank you again for your service, and I look forward to your testimony.