Washington, DC - Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) delivered the following opening statement (as prepared for delivery) at today's Subcommittee Markup.
"Today the Subcommittee meets to make recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill. The Defense Subcommittee allocation for the base budget is $511 billion and for Overseas Contingency Operations is $93.3 billion. The allocation is equivalent to the Department of Defense's fiscal year 2013 budget request, and is consistent with the defense caps set in the Budget Control Act. It is nearly $29 billion less than what Congress enacted in fiscal year 2012, primarily due to the drawdown of forces in Afghanistan.
"Due to budget reductions mandated by the Budget Control Act, the Department of Defense reduced its planned spending over the next decade. While the bill before you today supports many of the Department's proposals, we recommend several adjustments to restore force structure, fund shortfalls identified after the budget submission, support increases authorized by the Senate Armed Services Committee, and add funds for several competitive research initiatives.
"This bill continues this Committee's longstanding commitment to support our men and women in uniform and their families. It provides for the readiness of our forces, recommends sufficient force structure to meet global demands, and maintains our technological edge. It complies with the earmark moratorium and contains no congressionally directed spending items.
"The bill fully funds the requested military endstrength and the 1.7 percent authorized pay raise for military personnel. In addition, the bill adds over $390 million for military personnel shortfalls that were identified to the Committee after the budget was submitted.
"We recommend over $33 billion for the defense health program, including an additional $273 million to fully fund TRICARE benefits that were authorized by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"The bill funds key programs to strengthen our military readiness, and provides additional funding for unanticipated costs that surfaced after the budget submission, such as: $150 million for repairs on the USS Miami, which was damaged in a fire; $293 million for the Navy's increased presence in the Persian Gulf; and nearly $1 billion to mitigate projected shortfalls for fuel and second destination transportation costs.
"The recommendation restores or provides additional force structure to ensure that our military can meet its commitments around the world. Let me highlight a few examples:
"For the Department of the Army, the bill adds over $700 million for Army aircraft, primarily to modernize, replace combat losses, or procure new helicopters. It adds funds to continue Abrams upgrades and procure additional Hercules vehicles and Patriot interceptors.
"For the Department of the Navy, the recommendation ensures a healthy force as we shift our focus to the Pacific. It includes nearly $2.4 billion to reverse the Navy's proposal to prematurely retire nine ships that have over 100 years of service life remaining. This funding is adequate to man, operate, equip, and modernize these ships in order to minimize future costs which the Navy has not budgeted for. In addition, the recommendation provides $1 billion to fully fund an additional Destroyer and $777 million for advance procurement of an additional Virginia-class submarine.
"For the Department of the Air Force, the bill provides over $800 million to comply with the Senate Armed Services Committee's direction to pause Air Force-proposed force structure adjustments until a national commission reports to the Congress.
"For the Missile Defense Agency, the bill provides additional funds for a missile warning radar and Standard Missile-3 interceptors that were removed from the budget request.
"Let me assure you that we made each of these adjustments while bearing in mind the Department?s concern that adding back force structure could cause future unaffordable bills for the Department. The increases in this bill are carefully targeted to minimize that budget strain while ensuring we maintain a strong global posture. Accelerating the modernization or procurement of some equipment today will free up funds in future years that can be used to sustain needed force structure or invest in new capabilities. Furthermore, this bill adds funds for nearly every shortfall that the Department identified to the Committee after the budget was submitted, thus eliminating the need to reprogram billions of dollars next year for these " must pay " bills. By targeting some additional spending today, we are helping to relieve some pressure on future defense budgets.
"In order to fund the initiatives I highlighted, the bill makes reductions to underperforming programs in the Department's budget request. There are 475 line-item reductions recommended in this bill. Most of these reductions are made as a result of program terminations, schedule delays, program changes since submission of the budget last February, inadequate justification, unaffordable future year costs, or corrections to poor fiscal discipline.
"I believe this is a balanced bill and I urge my colleagues' support. It reduces unnecessary funding in order to ensure that our men and women in uniform and their families are provided the best support and equipment. At the same time, it ensures that our nation's defense is strong during an unprecedented time in our history when we are faced daily with new and unpredictable challenges.
"Before I call upon the Vice Chairman for his opening remarks, I would like to thank him and his staff - Stewart Holmes, Brian Potts, Alycia Farrell, Rachelle Schroeder, and Mike Hansen - for continuing this Committee's tradition of bipartisan cooperation in crafting this important bill."