Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), Lead Republican of the House Armed Services Committee, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing on the FY23 defense budget request.
Rep. 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.
The threats we face now are more formidable than at any point in the last 20 years.
Unprecedented Chinese military modernization has enabled them to leapfrog us in key capabilities.
The Chinese Communist Party now controls the largest army and navy in the world. It has more troops, more ships, and more hypersonic missiles than the United States.
With each passing day, it’s more and more clear their interests are diametrically opposed to ours.
And to make matters worse, Xi has entered into a “no limits” partnership with Putin, providing him strategic cover and international legitimacy.
But Putin’s catastrophic invasion of Ukraine has proven to the rest of the world that’s he’s nothing more than an unhinged crackpot.
The problem is this crackpot has his finger on the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and an illegal stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, which he hasn’t hesitated to use against his perceived enemies.
Emulating Putin’s desire to undermine democracy are the despotic leaders of North Korea and Iran.
Both continue to aggressively pursue nuclear weapons and conduct destabilizing activities in their regions.
Finally, the President’s decision to unilaterally and unconditionally withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan has offered terrorists the opportunity to regain their footing.
And our capability to keep an eye on them and strike them before they strike us continues to diminish.
These are just a few of the growing threats confronting our nation.
How we respond to them is the biggest test we face as Americans.
Many of us here, regardless of party, believe we should respond with increased investment in the men and women of our armed forces, and the modernization of our conventional and strategic deterrent.
Unfortunately, the President doesn’t see things the same way.
For the second year in a row, the President sent us a budget that fails to keep pace with China or Russia.
And, yet again, it fails to keep pace with inflation.
Despite predictions from leading economists that record high inflation will endure, the White House directed the Pentagon to assume a rate of only 2.2 percent in FY23.
We’re at 8 percent now.
To average 2.2 percent next year, we would require months of unprecedented record low inflation.
Everyone knows that’s not going to happen.
That means nearly every dollar of increase in this budget will be eaten by inflation.
Very little if anything will be left over to modernize and grow capability.
The President may claim this budget bolsters our national security, but that’s far from the truth.
This budget cuts the number of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines well below authorized levels.
It slashes the number of ships and aircraft in our arsenal.
In fact, at no point over the next 5 years does the size of the Navy grow.
Instead of a moving toward the 500 ship Navy needed to counter China, we shrink to 280 ships.
The budget cuts procurement for the Army and Marine Corps, delaying critical modernization efforts.
It slashes funding for next generation aircraft, new nuclear deterrent capability, and modernized ground combat vehicles.
Finally, according to the Pentagon’s Comptroller, the budget was completed before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
No funds have been added to account for the increased costs of reinforcing our NATO allies or to continue to provide lethal aid to Ukraine in the next fiscal year.
That’s extremely short sighted.
The problem again this year is not that the President refuses to spend money, he just refuses to spend more on defense.
Yet again, this budget proposes massive increases in funding for the EPA and the Departments of Education and HHS.
In all, non-defense discretionary spending grows by an astonishing 12 percent. 3 times more than defense.
Using GDP as a metric, defense spending will total 3.1 percent of GDP in FY23.
Non-defense spending will total 18 percent of GDP, nearly 6 times more than defense.
I know these numbers are inconvenient to many in the White House.
Some on the far left want to slash defense spending by 10 percent or more.
To his credit, the President has not gone that far.
But what he is proposing is far from what’s needed to maintain a credible deterrent.
Under the old National Defense Strategy, we needed annual increases of 3 to 5 percent above inflation to stay ahead of China.
The new National Defense Strategy departs little from the last one.
I suspect the new commission we’re appointing to review the new strategy will again recommend at least that level of funding.
If this budget was truly driven by risk, 5 percent above inflation is the level of growth we would see.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
This budget fails to account for the record inflation the department is currently facing and severely underestimates its impact over the next year.
It robs our warfighters of vital capabilities they need to carry out their missions.
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.