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Chairman Yarmuth’s Opening Statement at Hearing on Department of Defense’s FY22 Budget

Jun 24, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, Chair of the House Budget Committee, gave the following opening statement at today’s hearing on the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget. Remarks as prepared and video are below:

I would like to welcome Vice Admiral Ronald A. Boxall – thank you for your service and for joining us today to testify on the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Your expertise and insights will be enormously valuable to our hearing today.

And I would like to congratulate The Honorable Michael J. McCord, on his recent confirmation and on being the first person to hold the Comptroller position at DoD a second time. I’d also like to welcome you back to the Hill, specifically to the Budget Committee. In addition to being a long-time professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Under Secretary McCord also served on the staff of the House Budget Committee – and I also want to thank you for your service.

As we begin this hearing, I believe you both would agree that we all share a responsibility to provide the necessary resources to defend our country, and that includes maintaining a military that is second to none. I also believe that you would agree our national security depends on more than just military might. It requires a whole-of-government approach – strong diplomacy, effective homeland security activities, aggressive mitigation of the destabilizing effects of climate change, readied pandemic defenses, robust veterans’ programs, and an economy poised to compete and win, which underpins our national strength.

The President’s budget recognizes the undeniable connection between these goals and invests in a comprehensive plan for our national security.

This commitment starts with our servicemembers, who step up and put their lives on the line. As a nation, we should do everything we can to avoid conflict and call on them only when absolutely necessary, but we should also take care of them every step of the way.

That is why the President’s budget proposes a 2.7 percent pay raise for servicemembers as well as $113.1 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, which includes $97.5 billion for health care programs. On top of that, the budget proposes the largest increase in recent history to advance the VA’s understanding of traumatic brain injuries, the effects of toxic exposure on long-term health outcomes, and the needs of disabled veterans. It is a budget that truly recognizes the invaluable service and the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.

But the best way we can protect members of our Armed Forces is to keep them out of harm’s way. To resolve conflicts through diplomacy and only turn to military action when there is no other option.

As former Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, famously said, if you don’t fully fund the State Department then I need to buy more ammunition. That is why it is so important that President Biden’s budget for 2022 fully funds diplomatic and foreign assistance operations by providing an 11 percent increase above the 2021 enacted level.

The President’s budget includes other strategic investments that will broadly strengthen our national security, increase our readiness, and ensure the Unites States remains a global leader. This includes the largest research and development investment ever requested, with investments in hypersonics, artificial intelligence, micro-electronics, 5G technology, and cyber capabilities. The reality is that our competitors and adversaries, including China, are already investing heavily in state-of-the-art defense technologies and we cannot risk falling behind.

We also cannot ignore the risk that climate change poses to our military bases and mission-readiness. Already declared a national security threat, impacts of the climate crisis are directly threatening roughly two-thirds of the 79 mission assurance priority installations operated by DoD. That’s two out of three of some of our military’s most important bases and facilities. The President’s budget addresses this threat head-on, making critical investments to enhance resilience and readiness while reducing the Department of Defense’s climate impact.

And finally, the President’s plan restores accountability to the Department of Defense budget. The American people deserve to know how their tax dollars are spent. But for too long, the Overseas Contingency Operations – or OCO – designation has been exploited to skirt budget caps. The President’s budget restores accountability by eliminating this loophole and funding all operations from within the base budget. This will provide more predictable funding streams, increased transparency, and better management of resources. Above all, it makes the budget more honest.

Once again, I appreciate both of you coming today and I look forward to your testimony.

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