Friday, July 25, 2014

McCain Amendment: How It Went Down on the Senate Floor

Guam News - Guam News

Washington D.C. - The following is the transcript from the proceedings on the Senate floor during which Senators approved Senator McCain's amendment to strike $120-million in Guam infrastructure funding from the continuing resolution.

 

Mr. McCAIN. I ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up amendment No. 33. 

[Page: S1769]  GPO's PDF

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The clerk will report.

The assistant bill clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Arizona [Mr. McCain] proposes an amendment numbered 33.

Mr. McCAIN. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be disposed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To strike certain authorities relating to the use for grants of funds of the Office of Economic Assistance of the Department of Defense)
Strike section 8039, relating to the use for grants of funds of the Office of Economic Assistance of the Department of Defense. Strike section 8104, relating to the use of funds of the Office of Economic Assistance of the Department of Defense for grants for Guam.

Mr. McCAIN. I come to the floor to talk about amendment No. 33, which would strike sections 8104 and 8039 of the bill. It is a pair of Guam earmarks that directly contravene the explicit directions provided by the Armed Services Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives in the conference report on the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

Congress has not yet received a sufficient cost analysis of the proposed movement of the troops from Okinawa to Guam. Because of that, and the whole operation of these troops from Okinawa to Guam has still not been decided, the Armed Services Committees of the House and Senate explicitly prohibited this type of premature investment in civilian infrastructure.

At a time when the Department of Defense is facing the impact of sequester, on top of the $487 billion in cuts directed by the President, it is appalling and disgraceful that the authorizing language would be directly circumvented by the authorizers.

I want to read the language for my colleagues' benefit. After hours and hours of hearings, of amendments, of markup, of 3 weeks on the floor of the Senate, the product stated:

Restriction on development of public infrastructure. If the Secretary of Defense determines that any grant, cooperative agreement, transfer of funds to another Federal agency, or supplement of funds available in fiscal year 2012 or fiscal year 2013 under Federal programs administered by agencies other than the Department of Defense will result in the development (including repair, replacement, renovation, conversion, improvement, expansion, acquisition, or construction) of public infrastructure on Guam, the Secretary of Defense may not carry out such grant, transfer, cooperative agreement, or supplemental funding unless specifically authorized by law.

So here is clear language of the National Defense Authorization Act directly contradicted by this continuing resolution. What in the world is the job of the authorizers if it is not to have the language adhered to? At a time when the Department of Defense is facing the impact of sequestration, on top of $487 billion in cuts already directed by the President, the appropriators decided that we would spend $140 million on Guam. It is absolutely unbelievable, I say to my colleagues.

Now, let me tell my colleagues about the effect of the sequester that has happened now. According to this line item in the appropriations bill, it will spend $140 million on a wastewater treatment plant on Guam and another project. So we are going to spend $140 million on that.

Meanwhile, I say to my colleagues, here is what has already happened, with the sequester to the Armed Forces. The Army: Cancels four brigade exercises at the National Training Center or Joint Readiness Training Center. The Army: Reduced base operations by 30 percent; cancels half the year of helicopters and ground vehicle depot maintenance; stops post-war repair of 1,300 vehicles and 17,000 weapons; reduces readiness of 80 percent of the Army's nondeploying brigades; stops tuition assistance for all Active and Reserve soldiers.

Navy: Cancels several submarine deployments; reduces flying hours on deployed carriers in the Middle East by 55 percent; steaming days by 22 percent; reduces Western Pacific deployed operations by 35 percent; nondeployed Pacific ships lose 40 percent of steaming days; reduces Middle East Atlantic MED ballistic missile defense patrols; shuts down all flying for four of nine carrier air wings 9 to 12 months to restore normal readiness at two to three times the cost; cuts all major naval exercises; defers emergent repairs; cancels Blue Angels shows in third and fourth quarter; USS Truman carrier deployment delayed indefinitely.

I might say that deployment was to the Middle East where the centrifuges are spinning. The USS Eisenhower career deployment extended indefinitely; USS Nimitz and USS Bush carrier strike groups will not be fully ready for scheduled fiscal year 2013 deployments.

Air Force: Likely prevent Air Force's ability to achieve the 2017 goal of being fully auditable; defer nonemergency facility requirements; reduce repairs by 50 percent over 420 projects at over 140 installations across the Air Force; affects runway repairs and critical sustainment projects; delays planned acquisition of satellites and aircraft, including JSF and AC-130J, which will increase the future cost of these systems; reduces flying hours for cargo, fighter and bomber aircraft; stops tuition assistance for all Active and Reserve airmen.

Marine Corps: I hope my colleagues will listen to this. The Commandant of the Marine Corps says:

By the end of this year, more than 50 percent of my combat units will be below minimal acceptable levels of readiness for deployment to combat.
I repeat. The Commandant of the Marine Corps says:

By the end of this year, more than 50 percent of my combat units will be below minimal acceptable levels of readiness for deployment to combat.
Unable to complete rebalancing of Marine Corps forces into the Asia Pacific region; will cause 55 percent of the U.S. Marine Corps forces to have unsatisfactory readiness ratings; 50 percent of the U.S. Marine Corps aviation squadrons will fall below ready-to-deploy status; U.S. Marine Corps will not be able to accomplish planned reset of equipment returning from overseas expeditionary forces; depot level maintenance will be reduced, delaying resettability by 18 months and reducing nondeployed forces; facilities sustainment will be funded at 71 percent of requirement, reducing effectiveness of home station training and quality of life.

These are the effects of sequestration. So what do they do? What do they do in the continuing resolution? They add $140 million for Guam for a wastewater treatment plant. Talk about divorced from reality. Talk about insensitivity to the men and women who are serving this country. I am already beginning to hear from them, I will tell you that.

There are a lot of bright young men and women who are serving this country, are serving it with courage and skill and are the best probably we have ever seen. I am hearing from their leaders. They are making decisions about whether to stay in the military. It is an All-Volunteer Force. I can tell you what a lot of them are deciding when they see something as ridiculous as this, and there are other outrageous and stupid things in this bill.

While all of the things are taking place in the Air Force, the Army, and the Marine Corps, we are now on this list--we have $5 million--they are adding money, adding money, adding millions. In fact, it comes up to billions--$5 million for the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, $5 million for the Department of Defense Star Base Youth Program, $154 million for an Army, Navy, and Air Force ``alternative energy resource initiative,'' $18 million for unspecified ``industrial preparedness,'' $16 million for Parkinson's disease research--there is a whole bunch in here for medical research. They are taking it out of defense. I am for research in all of these programs, whether it be Parkinson's or neurofibromatosis or HIV/AIDS research, but they are taking it out of defense.

They are adding $9 million for unspecified radar research, $20 million for university research initiatives, $7 million for a Civil Air Patrol Program increase, $45 million for Impact Aid. The list goes on and on and on.

While the Air Force is unable to fly, the Civil Air Patrol will get an additional $15 million. I am a great admirer of the Civil Air Patrol.

[Page: S1770]  GPO's PDF

The fact is that what we are doing is we are cutting the flying hours and affecting the readiness of the men and women who are serving in the military in this country. I repeat a statement of the Commandant of the Marine Corps: By the end of this year, ``more than 50 percent of my combat units will be below minimal acceptable levels of readiness for deployment to combat.'' What did these appropriators do? They put in $140 million for wastewater treatment on Guam, which is expressly prohibited by the National Defense Authorization Act.

I have been on this floor for many years fighting against what I believe is encroachment by appropriators on the authorizers' business. I have never, in 26 years as a member of the defense appropriations committee and the Armed Forces committee, seen anything quite as egregious as this.

I say to my colleagues, who are authorizers and not appropriators, if you let them get away with directly violating and contradicting the express language of the National Defense Authorization Act, you are next. You are next. This is unacceptable. I hope my colleagues will vote on the issue of whether we need to spend this money, particularly at this moment, with the condition of our military.

Many of our constituents say: Why is this being so hard hit? Why is the military being so hard hit?

They don't quite understand sequester--this thing the President said won't happen. This sequester affects 19 percent of what we call the discretionary spending. They exempted about two-thirds of all of the discretionary spending and then took 50 percent of what was left of 19 percent of the spending. This has a dramatically increased effect on what we need most; that is, our national security. It is shameful.

I hope my colleagues and friends know that this Guam provision would provide, which is expressly prohibited, $120 million for a public regional health laboratory and civilian wastewater improvements. The Department of Defense wants to move marines to Guam but does not know how much military infrastructure will be needed--military infrastructure will be needed to support the move--what the implications will be to operational responsiveness in the Pacific theater or how much any of it will cost.

Over the last 2 years, the Armed Services Committee received many hours of testimony, briefings, and meetings on the troop realignment in the Pacific and directed the Center for Strategic and International Studies to conduct an independent assessment on U.S. force strategy in the region. The assessment--delivered in August 2012--recommended a better alignment of engagement strategies between the U.S. Pacific Command and the Department of Defense in order to improve our capabilities in the region and respond to a range of contingencies. The CSIS was clear in the appraisal that the Department of Defense had not adequately articulated the strategy behind its future posture planning nor aligned the strategy with resources in a way that reflects current budget realities.

After more testimony, briefings, and meetings, the Armed Services Committee acted and, through the vehicle of the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, prohibited the use of funds for any military realignment to Guam until the Department of Defense and the U.S. Pacific Command provided a detailed set of reports. These reports will address the plan for ensuring that any proposed force realignments in the Pacific region to include moving U.S. marines from Japan to Guam and Hawaii are supported by resources that will allow our forces to meet operational requirements. Admiral Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told me yesterday that these reports would be ready this summer.

The Department of Defense has planning left to do. While Congress may someday authorize some number of marines to be realigned to Guam, it will only be after we have a clear understanding of the clear implications and costs. In this context, the Appropriations Committee would fund unrequested civilian infrastructure--not military infrastructure, civilian infrastructure--far greater in scope than would be required in the event the most extreme estimates of troop realignment occurred. There is absolutely no justification for it.

This is why the Armed Services Committee expressly prohibited such funding, because we don't know how much military or civilian infrastructure we may need, if any. Has one single marine, sailor, or airman been assigned to Guam as part of the intended buildup that would justify using DOD money to rebuild Guam civilian wastewater facilities or build a new civilian health laboratory? The answer is obviously no. The support payoff to Guam to solve an already existing problem has nothing to do with any future military realignment to Guam. This is no better than last year's set of earmarks for a cultural artifacts repository.

It should be very clear by now that these expenditures pushed through in direct contravention of the bipartisan, bicameral decisions of the Armed Services Committee are a shameful waste of taxpayers' money. In my view, this is a clear example of political abuse of the appropriations process.
I could go on for a long time. In fact, instead of doing a continuing resolution, we should be doing everything we can to avoid the sequester, which has such a disastrous effect on our military.

I am sure my colleagues are aware that in Tehran the centrifuges are spinning. North Korea just had another nuclear test. They threatened to cancel the cease-fire of 1953. They are making very aggressive noises toward South Korea and, I believe, our 30,000 men and women who are stationed there. Tension between Japan and China is very high. For my colleagues' information, I am sure they know that the Chinese have increased, doubled, and redoubled their spending on their military. The Middle East is in a state of turmoil, which could lead to an international crisis almost at any moment. Seventy thousand Syrians have been slaughtered by Bashar al-Asad. There are over 1 million refugees, as that conflict shows all possibility of spreading to Lebanon and to Jordan.

What are we doing? We are imposing Draconian cuts on the U.S. military, which caused the Commandant of the Marine Corps to say 50 percent of all his combat units will be below minimal acceptable levels of readiness for deployment to combat.

I have been around this body and this Nation for a long time. I have seen this movie before. Everybody talks about war weariness. Everybody talks about how weary we are of Iraq and Afghanistan, and indeed we are. We were war weary after Vietnam. We cut the military, cut the military, and we cut the military as we are doing today. The Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army in the late 1970s came before the Armed Services Committee and said we have a hollow army. Do you know what we are doing right now with sequestration? We are hollowing out our military. To add insult to injury, we are putting on a long list of wasteful, unnecessary programs, many of which have nothing to do with defending this Nation. Some are outright pork-barrel spending.

I hope my colleagues, particularly those on authorizing committees, will understand that if the appropriators are able to directly contradict language in authorizations that are passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President of the United States, then you become irrelevant to the process. I don't think the 80-so of us who are not members of the Appropriations Committee should be subjected to irrelevance.

I urge my colleagues to support the amendment.

I yield the floor.

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