WASHINGTON, DC, Thursday, August 1, 2013 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee today issued the following statement at a full committee markup of the FY 2014 appropriations bill for the Department of Defense.
“Thank you, Madam Chair.
“Providing for the ‘common defense’ is one of the stated goals of our constitution, making it one of the core functions of the federal government. Therefore, providing the necessary resources to our armed forces is one of the most important things this committee does.
“As was the case with many of the bills already reported out of this committee, there is much to support in the bill before us today. I applaud the effort to restore readiness shortfalls in training military personnel, keeping our Navy’s ships at sea, and keeping our planes in the air.
“I approve the effort to support Operations and Maintenance funding, and to support defending our homeland against ballistic missile attack. I also support military procurement and R&D funding to ensure that our armed services remain the most capable in the world.
“My support of our armed forces has been strong and consistent over many decades of public service.
“Precisely because of my commitment to our national security, however, I cannot support this bill.
“Across-the-board cuts in defense spending, carried out as part of sequestration, have damaged our national security. Further sequestration is likely to be even more damaging.
“With the bills we marked up last week, this Committee has already entered sequestration territory by endorsing cumulative non-defense discretionary spending that is already nearly $7 billion above the Budget Control Act caps.
“Unfortunately, that was just the tip of the iceberg, since the Committee is deliberately aiming for a discretionary spending total of $1.058 trillion, $91 billion more than current law permits.
“This Defense bill alone would exceed the Budget Control Act caps for defense-related spending by nearly $19 billion. And, that’s not even counting the defense-related spending in the Committee’s other bills, which comes to an additional $35.6 billion.
“I have opposed every bill that this Committee has reported this year, not because they have no merit, but because I cannot support a top line $91 billion above the level at which across-the-board cuts will kick in.
“If cuts are to take place, as current law requires, they should be deliberate ones that reflect decisions by Congress about strategic priorities.
“I would like to see meaningful spending cuts in mandatory accounts which, I believe, are the only way to get the federal government on a fiscally-sustainable path. Until we are willing to enact real entitlement reform, however, current law will dictate how much we spend and how we spend it.
“I think we can all agree that taking a percentage off of every budget line is clearly the worst way to cut spending. But, that is exactly my point. By refusing to reorder priorities and make tough choices consistent with the budget caps, this Committee is calling for a new, across-the-board sequestration that would be even more damaging than the one we faced earlier this year.
“If we continue to deny reality, we will end up funding the government through continuing resolutions based upon obsolete priorities. That is not how we should be providing for our “common defense.”
“While I appreciate, as always, the Chair’s willingness to work with us on the details of this bill. I must, however, continue to oppose legislation based on a top line figure that exceeds the caps allowed under current law.