Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX-12), the Chairwoman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of her bill, H.R. 6157 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act:
Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to bring the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019 to the House floor for consideration.
Congress' number one responsibility is to provide for the defense of this Nation. It is this bill that fulfills that most fundamental constitutional duty.
Last year, General Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said: “The U.S. military's competitive advantage against potential adversaries is eroding. Over the last decade, sustained operational commitments, budgetary instability, and advances by our adversaries have threatened our ability to project power and we have lost our advantage in key warfighting areas.”
My approach to funding this bill is based on that statement. The priorities funded in this bill not only stop the erosion, but also enable our military to restore and increase the competitive advantage.
This is all possible because of the bipartisan budget agreement which has allowed us to provide the necessary resources.
The fiscal year 2018 Defense Appropriation Act took the first step in rebuilding our military by addressing the toll taken on readiness, and began to make investments to improve our competitive advantage.
Building on the gains we made in 2018 and guided by the new National Defense Strategy, the bill before you is the next critical step to enable Secretary Mattis to build a more lethal, resilient, and rapidly innovating joint force that can defeat the adversaries we face today and those we will face in the future.
The bill also supports the Secretary's efforts to work by, with, and through our allies and partners to help share the burden while protecting America's interests around the world.
This bill reflects the advice the subcommittee received in hearings, briefings, and meetings with Secretary Mattis, Chairman Dunford, the leadership of the military services, the Intelligence Committee, and other national security experts.
The bill provides a total of $675 billion to the Department for fiscal year 2019. This is $19 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level and is consistent with total funding level in the House-passed authorization bill.
The bill provides full funding to address military personnel needs, including: full funding for an additional 16,400 active, guard and reserve soldiers, sailors and airmen. And full funding for the 2.6 percent pay raise for our troops.
The bill provides critical funding to repair and improve our military readiness, including $1 billion over the request for training and equipping our troops, including the National Guard and Reserve, and for
training, equipment, maintenance and spare parts, and base operations. It includes $21 billion for depot maintenance to get our planes and ships back in working order.
For procurement, the bill provides adequate funding to modernize the force. Major investments include: increased funds for Strykers, Abrams tanks, Humvees, and other ground mobility vehicles.
And to maintain air superiority, we provide increases for key platforms such as the Joint Strike Fighter, Apaches, Lakotas, Ospreys, Black Hawks, and C-130s.
We maintain our commitment to the National Guard and Reserve components, providing $1.3 billion over the request, specifically for their equipment needs.
For shipbuilding, we fund 12 Navy ships, 2 more than requested.
To ensure our technological edge against our adversaries, $95 billion is included for research and development.
We keep our commitment to take care of our service members and their families by providing over $34 billion for defense health programs, including $752 million over the request for medical research.
To address growing concerns on and around our military bases, we include over $1.2 billion to address environmental remediation and restoration.
For ongoing global war on terrorism operations, the bill provides funding for additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance for the warfighter, and $250 million for Ukraine.
Given the serious challenges and significant resources at stake, the committee continues to exercise strong oversight over the Department to ensure that our constituents' tax dollars are being spent wisely.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank my ranking member and partner, Mr. Visclosky. His input has been invaluable. The bill before us is better because of his involvement.
I also want to thank our full committee ranking member, Mrs. Lowey, for her support for this important work done in this bill. Most importantly, I want to thank my full committee chairman and the previous subcommittee chairman, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Frelinghuysen), for his leadership and his support.
Sadly, this is the last Defense Appropriation bill that the chairman will manage in Congress.
Throughout his service, he has shown an unwavering commitment to the needs of our military and intelligence communities. I will miss his wise counsel and steadfast commitment to the members of our military services.
I want to thank all Members for their participation and input as we put together this bill. The subcommittee received over 6,600 requests from Members. The bill incorporates their ideas and recommendations, and I thank them for their continued support.
I would like to personally thank our hardworking staff for helping make this bill possible. On our majority staff: Jennifer Miller, Walter Hearne, Brooke Boyer, B. G. Wright, Allison Deters, Collin Lee, Matt Bower, Jackie Ripke, Hayden Milberg, Bill Adkins, Sherry Young, and Barry Walker.
On our minority staff: Becky Leggieri, Jennifer Chartrand, and Chris Bigelow.
On my personal staff: Johnnie Kaberle, Jon Fay, and Spencer Freebairn.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019 is a great bill that takes the next critical step in rebuilding our military.
Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.