Transcript: House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith’s opening statement on defense sequestration

House Armed Services Committee hearing on “‪The Future of the Military Services and Consequences of Defense Sequestration‬”

Opening statement by Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee:

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee. IMAGE SOURCE:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for holding this hearing. It’s an honor to be here with all four of our service chiefs. I appreciate your leadership for our military. I also appreciate the series of hearing that this committee has had to examine the impacts of budget cuts in our deficit on the defense budget. I think it’s critically important that we make smart choices in this difficult budget environment. There’s no question that our debt and deficit have placed enormous pressure on our country but also most specifically on the Department of Defense and our ability to adequately provide for the national security.

“Now, defense is 20% of the budget. It’s going to be part of the solution. But as the Chairman points out, it already has been. As part of the debt ceiling agreement in August, the defense budget has agreed to somewhere between $450 billion and $500 billion in cuts over the course of the next 10 years. Getting to those cuts will be a great challenge. But it is wrong to think that the defense budget has somehow been held apart from our debt and deficit problems. Quite the opposite – it’s been front and center.

“So what we really need to hear from our witnesses today is, first of all, how they’re going to handle those initial cuts over the course of the next 10 year – how they’re going to do that in a way that continues to protect our national security. Because keep in mind even though we do have debt and deficit problems, we also have growing national security threats. We have certainly the threat from al-Qaeda and their affiliate remains. We have Iran and North Korea, who are both growing in capability and belligerence. And we also have the rise of China, both economic and militarily. Just to name a few. So our threats haven’t gone away even though the money is going to become harder to come by. So how we’re going to manage that is critically important.

“Also, as the Chairman said, to sort of point out the limitations on how far we cut the defense budget beyond what we’ve already done. The true impact of sequestration and how it would damage our ability to provide adequately for our national security. And I would ask the witnesses in that testimonies to give specifics about it. We’ve heard a great that if you cut below this level, well it’s a question of raising the risk level. What does that mean? I think our country needs to hear specifically if you cut this much, here’s what we won’t be able to do and here’s how it could potentially threaten our national security.

“So I applaud the witnesses and I applaud the Department of Defense for going through the process of restructuring our defense budget, looking at strategic review of where we’re spending our money. That process is ongoing. I think it’s critically important. And we look forward to hearing more about what choices you face and what we need to do to make sure that we adequately provide for our national security.”



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