Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, delivered the following open statement at a hearing on the FY22 Department of Defense budget request.
Ranking Member Rogers' remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you to Secretary Austin and General Milley for being here today and for your service to our nation.
Last month, Admiral Davidson, testified that “there is no guarantee the United States would win a future conflict with China”.
In fact, in almost every war game conducted by the Pentagon over the last decade, the United States has lost to China.
The Chinese Communist Party now controls the largest army and navy in the world. It has more troops, more ships, and more ground-based missiles than the United States. And while we are still developing hypersonic missiles, the CCP is fielding them.
The facts couldn’t be more clear. China is a very real threat to our national security.
Both Secretary Austin and General Milley have acknowledged that point.
At his confirmation hearing, Secretary Austin said that “China presents the most significant threat going forward”.
General Milley testified before the Senate that “from a strictly military standpoint”, China represented our greatest threat.
Here’s the problem – the President apparently doesn’t see things the same way.
If he did, I don’t understand why he would send us such a wholly inadequate defense budget.
This budget request doesn’t keep pace with China.
It doesn’t even keep pace with inflation.
In fact, it constitutes a cut of over 4 billion in real dollars.
This budget cuts the size of the Navy and starves the shipbuilding industrial base.
It cuts procurement budgets across the board, delaying critical modernization efforts. Air Force procurements are slashed by over 12 percent; missile defense by more than 15 percent.
There’s $25 billion in unfunded priorities, much of which are critical capabilities our warfighters need to counter China.
The budget accelerates divestment of important capabilities, including over 200 fighter and reconnaissance aircraft. It doesn’t seem to matter that many of these are still needed on the battlefield.
And as the services struggle to meet recruiting goals, this budget cuts military end strength.
Ask the administration why they would propose such an anemic budget, and they struggle with excuses.
They tell us that the savings they produce today are being reinvested in future capabilities.
Except that’s not the case.
Slashing procurements and accelerating divestments produces nearly $13 billion in so called savings.
But the research and development of new capabilities increases by only $5 billion.
Then they tell us that defense funding is hemmed in by “fiscal realities”.
That might make sense if the President was proposing to balance the budget. But he’s not.
The President is spending unprecedented sums of money on progressive wish lists. But not so with defense.
The budget proposes massive increases in funding for the EPA and the Departments of Education, HHS and Commerce.
In all, non-defense discretionary spending grows by an astonishing 16 percent. Ten times more than defense.
And that doesn’t count the $1.9 trillion wasted on so called COVID stimulus. More than $1.7 billion of which was spent on progressive priorities like stimulus checks to prisoners and illegal immigrants, and bailouts for union pension plans. But not a dime for defense.
Nor does it include the infrastructure bill, which spends money on everything under the sun except defense. The cost for that fiasco ranges anywhere from $1 to $6 trillion in new mandatory spending.
The only reason the President is not spending more on defense is because the radical left is pushing him to cut it. They want to slash defense spending by 10 percent or more.
To his credit, the President has not gone that far. But what he’s proposing is far from what’s needed to maintain a credible deterrent.
The National Defense Strategy Commission recommends annual increases of 3 to 5 percent above inflation to stay ahead of China.
Each one of the service chiefs and combatant commanders that I’ve asked has publicly endorsed that level of funding.
Deputy Secretary Hicks supported it when she was a Commissioner.
I suspect that’s the level of funding Secretary Austin and General Milley would like to see as well.
Given the colossal amounts of money the President and Democrats in Congress are throwing around these days, I outright reject the notion that we can’t somehow find 3 to 5 percent more for our national security.
If this budget was driven by risk instead of politics, 3 to 5 percent is the level of growth we would see.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Mr. Secretary, I know you’re doing the best you can with what you were given. But it was wrong to put you in this position.
This budget robs our warfighters of vital capabilities they need to carry out their missions.
And it fails to adequately support our defense industrial base.
But most regrettably, it gives China more time to enhance their military advantage and undermine our deterrence.
I urge my colleagues to reject this budget and work in a bipartisan manner to address the urgent needs of our national defense.
2216 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515