Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I send an amendment to the desk and ask for its immediate consideration.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
The legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Wisconsin [Mr. Feingold] proposes an amendment numbered 3397.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
The amendment is as follows:
On page 13, line 9, increase the amount by $219,700,000.
On page 25, line 25, reduce the amount by $219,700,000.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, my amendment would allow the National Guard to almost fully fund its operation and maintenance, or O&M account, for the coming fiscal year. This year's Defense Department budget request left the National Guard with a $634 million budget shortfall, including a $450 million shortfall in the Guard's O&M account. This request fell on the heals of a $743 million shortfall for the current fiscal year. I think these shortfalls are wrongheaded and unacceptable.
Fortunately, both Houses of Congress have acted more responsibly in funding the National Guard. Even with the improvements from both Houses, though, the Senate appropriations bill we are currently considering leaves the Guard's operation and maintenance account $225 million short. The House bill leaves an even greater gap of $317 million. My amendment would add $220 million to the National Guard's O&M account, leaving just a $5 million shortfall to that account.
According to the National Guard, shortfalls in the operation and maintenance account compromise the Guard's readiness levels, capabilities, force structure, and end strength. Failing to fully support these vital areas will have a direct as well as indirect effect. The shortfall puts the Guard's personnel, schools, training, full-time support, and retention and recruitment at risk. Perhaps most importantly, however, I know firsthand that it is eroding the morale of our citizen-soldiers, as I have had the opportunity to visit some of the armories in Wisconsin and have heard this concern firsthand.
With that in mind, 26 State adjutants general--a majority of the adjutants general in this country--have contacted my office to voice their support for this amendment. The leaders of the National Guard units in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, and my own home State of Wisconsin support my amendment. I would like to thank them for their dedication and support, and I hope we decide to heed their call for support of the National Guard.
Mr. President, in spite of the National Guard's budget concerns, the administration continues to deliver insufficient budget requests given the National Guard's duties; yet, the administration increasingly calls on the Guard to handle some very wide-ranging tasks. These shortfalls have an increasingly greater effect given the National Guard's increased operations burden. This is as a result of new missions, increased deployments, and training requirements, including the missions in Bosnia, Iraq, Haiti, and Somalia.
As I am sure my colleagues know by now, the Army National Guard represents a full 34 percent of total Army forces, including 55 percent of combat divisions and brigades, 46 percent of combat support, and 25 percent of combat service support; yet, the Guard only receives 9.5 percent of Army funds.
To offer a comparison with the other Army components, the National Guard receives just 71 percent of requested funding, as opposed to the Active Army's 80 percent and Army Reserve's 81 percent. I think it is time we move toward giving the National Guard adequate and equal funding. This amendment almost achieves funding equity for the National Guard, and the National Guard is the Nation's only constitutionally mandated defense force.
Not only have we failed to invest fully in the National Guard, we have failed to invest fully in the best bargain in the Defense Department. That should not come as a surprise, however. DOD has never been known as a frugal or practical department--from $436 hammers to $640 toilet seats to $2 billion bombers that don't work and the Department doesn't seem to want to use. The Department of Defense has a storied history of wasting our tax dollars. Here is an opportunity to spend defense dollars on something that actually works, that is worthwhile, and enjoys broad support on both sides of the aisle.
In this regard, the National Guard fits the bill. According to a National Guard study, the average cost to train and equip an active duty soldier is $73,000 per year, while it costs only $17,000 per year to train and equip a National Guard soldier. The cost of maintaining Army National Guard units is just 23 percent of the cost of maintaining active Army units. It is time for the Pentagon to quit complaining about lack of funding and begin using their money a little more wisely and efficiently.
Finally, my amendment doesn't terminate any program, nor does it create unsupported cuts to existing programs. This amendment merely follows the recommendation of the other Chamber.
Early this year, the House overwhelmingly supported DOD authorization and appropriations bills that provide $2.6 billion to procure 27 Super Hornet aircraft. I think, and the General Accounting Office thinks, that is actually far too much money for a plane that provides only marginal benefits over the current, reliable Hornet. But it is better than the $2.8 billion for 30 Super Hornets that the bill contains. I think we should follow the prudent lead of our colleagues in the other body on this issue.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the House National Security Committee's report on its fiscal year 1999 DOD authorization bill, which specifically addresses the Super Hornet, be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the report was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
The budget request contained $2,787.8 million for 30 F/A-18E/F aircraft and $109.4 million for advanced procurement of 36 aircraft in fiscal year 2000.
Based on the results of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the committee notes that the Department has reduced the total procurement objective from 1,000 to 548 aircraft and has also reduced procurement in the future years defense program (FYDP) from 248 to 224. The committee notes that the Department plans to request increases of six aircraft per year for each of the next three fiscal years until its maximum production rate of 48 aircraft per year is attained in fiscal year 2002. However, for fiscal year 1999, the requested increase from fiscal year 1998 is 10 aircraft.
The committee is also aware that the Department has increased the number of low rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft in fiscal years 1997, 1998 and 1999 from 42, as approved in 1992 by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB), to its current plan of 62 aircraft. The Department's Selected Acquisition Reports indicate that both its initial plan of 42 LRIP aircraft and its current plan of 62 LRIP aircraft were predicated on a procurement objective of 1,000 aircraft. The committee notes that were the Department to comply with the 10 percent LRIP guideline contained in section 2400 of title 10, United States Code, 55 LRIP aircraft should be sufficient.
During the past year, the committee has followed the Department's challenges in solving an uncommanded rolling motion problem that occurs at altitudes and angles of attack in that portion of the flight envelop where the F/A-18E/F performs air combat maneuvers. The Department's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation recently testified that the most promising solution to this problem--a porous wing fairing--causes unacceptable airframe buffeting and that the final solution to the problem may include other combinations of aerodynamic alternations to the wing surface. According to the Director, the root cause of the problem and modifications to the porous wing fairing are still being investigated, and the wing fairing configuration flown during developmental testing does not incorporate the production representative wing fold mechanism. Additionally, the Director stated that the Department would not have a complete understanding of the impact of the design fix, including uncertainty over air flow effects around the weapons pylons, until the conclusion of operational testing in 1999. Moreover, the Director also noted other concerns with the aircraft such as deficiencies in the performance of its survivability and radar jamming systems.
In light of the significantly higher increase in production proposed for fiscal year 1999, the apparent excess number of LRIP aircraft, and the development and testing issues yet to be fully resolved, the committee recommends a reduction of $213.1 million and three aircraft. Of the total $213.1 million reduction, initial spares is reduced by $8.4 million. The committee believes that an increase of seven aircraft from the approved fiscal year 1998 level is appropriate and further believes that a total of 59 LRIP aircraft, approximately 11 percent of the total procurement objective, will meet requirements for operational testing and evaluation and will also be sufficient to meet both initial training requirements and the first operational deployment scheduled for fiscal year 2002.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I would like to quote the chairman of the House Military Procurement Subcommittee, Duncan Hunter. Speaking of the National Security Committee's Super Hornet procurement decision, Representative Hunter said, `We think it's a rational, responsible reduction, a balanced reduction.'
Mr. President, it is time we prioritized this Nation's defense needs. The National Guard provides a wide range of services, from combat in foreign lands to support in local weather emergencies, all at a fraction of the cost of the Active Army. The National Guard needs and deserves our full support. And it is for that reason that I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There is a sufficient second.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, I intend to move to table this amendment.
Mr. INOUYE addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Hawaii.
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, I would like to commend the Senator from Wisconsin for presenting this amendment. I would have to speak against that.
It is true that the budget request submitted by the administration for the National Guard had a shortfall for O&M activities in the Guard in the amount of about $770 million. On our chairman's initiative, we placed an amount of $320 million to make up for part of the shortfall.
In addition to that, the administration had zero dollars for procurement of new equipment based upon the philosophy that if the regular services, the Regular Army, purchases equipment, some of the leftovers may go for the Guard. We did not concur with that. We appropriated $500 million for the Guard to get new equipment.
Having said that, Mr. President, I believe it should be noted that every service, every component of every service, is faced with shortfalls. There is a shortfall in Navy O&M. They would like to have more steaming time. They want their ships to be out there for maneuvers. We can't do that. The Army Tank Corps would like to have more petroleum and gasoline so that the men who drive these tanks may get more experience and be ready for combat, if such is necessary. Artillerymen would like to have more ammunition for firing range practice.
Mr. President, we have the sad chore of trying to balance all of the accounts and, at the same time, realizing that if this Nation is to continue being the superpower of this world and thereby deter any nation from any mischievous action, we have to provide funds to modernize. The accounts that may be affected by this amendment would stop the modernization program.
Mr. President, although I agree that the Guard should be receiving much more, I will have to concur with my chairman's action when he moves to table this.
Mr. STEVENS addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Alaska.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, we have had a series of visits with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I particularly recall the discussion I had with Secretary of the Navy John Dalton and with Admiral Johnson. There is no question that the Navy representatives have informed our committee that full F/A-18E/F funding is the administration's top appropriations priority for defense and the Navy.
This amendment would take these funds from that priority, the F/A-18E/F, and move it to the National Guard.
We have added, as I stated this morning, $95 million to augment the Guard and Reserve personnel accounts.
We have added for the Guard and Reserve operation and maintenance funds an additional $225 million.
Finally, we added $450 million to the Guard and Reserve procurement account.
I have to tell the Senator we have exceeded the requests in many instances. We added almost $1 billion in the zero sum budget for the Guard and Reserve priorities.
Furthermore, the F/A/-18E/F is just entering production. The Senator's amendment will seriously disrupt the production program, and substantially increase the unit cost, if the Senate approves this amendment. To me it does not make common sense to increase the cost of the F-18, the Navy's top priority planes which we must buy to meet the Navy's previously approved program requirements. We have helped the Guard and Reserve. I do not think we should punish the Navy in order to help them any more.
If the Senator wishes to make any comments, I yield to him for those comments.
I intend to make a motion to table his amendment. But before I do that, I ask unanimous consent that, on any votes that are laid aside in order to join the priority list that is already in existence under the Guard and Reserve the common procedure of a minute on each side be the procedure for this bill: That there be 2 minutes equally divided on any vote that occurs on this bill on an amendment that is set aside for a later time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. FEINGOLD addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Wisconsin.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, let me first of all say that the two Senators who have spoken in opposition to this amendment are not only very sincere in their support of the National Guard but they have demonstrated in committee a serious concern about increasing funding. And their efforts have gone a long way to make sure that we have less of a shortfall than was originally occurring. That is encouraging. However, as was admitted by those opposed to this amendment, we still have a $225 million shortfall in the O&M account at the National Guard. This is a serious shortfall.
I am not suggesting that we remove this funding from vital areas, but this is about priorities within the defense budget. I think it is a pretty easy call. Although I would prefer that we not move forward with the Super Hornet airplane, what I am suggesting here is not a dramatic reduction in those planes. I am simply suggesting we take what has already been passed in the House; that is, instead of having 30 of the Super Hornets, we procure 27--3 fewer. For three fewer of these planes, we could fully fund the National Guard O&M account.
This is not an attempt, as the Senator from Alaska, suggested, to seriously disrupt the production of the Super Hornet. Very candidly, Mr. President, I would prefer to do that, because the General Accounting Office has pointed out that the Super Hornet is not substantially better than the current plane. It is going to cost $17 billion more than the current plane. That is a huge amount of money.
But that is not what this amendment does. All this amendment does is say let's adopt what the House did, which is have 27 Super Hornets instead of 30, and use the money that is saved to fully fund the National Guard, or virtually fully fund the National Guard O&M account.
Mr. President, these shortfalls for the National Guard are serious. I have had the opportunity to visit armories in Oak Creek, WI, and Appleton, WI, and spend a fair amount of time speaking to the officers and the guardsmen and guardswomen who are trying so hard to do the job that they are expected to do, constituting 34 percent of our entire Army's sources and resources. They are having morale problems. Otherwise, why would 26 adjutant generals in this country write in support of this amendment? They are very concerned.
Mr. President, my amendment is simply about priorities. It is a modest reduction in the number of these Super Hornets that are going to be procured, and in return for something that is far more vital at this point.
And that is fully funding the O&M account for the National Guard.
Mr. President, in light of the fact there will be a motion to table at some point, I strongly urge my colleagues to put these modest resources in the National Guard, which supports our Army and which exists in our communities in every one of our States, rather than three more airplanes that, frankly, have not been proven to be substantially better than the current plane that has done a good job in the Gulf war and other situations.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, if there is no further debate on this matter, I move to table the Senator's amendment and ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
Mr. STEVENS. I now ask that that amendment be set aside.
Is the standing order that all of the votes we ask for the yeas and nays on prior to 2 o'clock will be automatically set aside?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct.
Mr. STEVENS. I thank the Chair.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gregg). Without objection, it is so ordered..........................
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. BOND. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. BOND. Mr. President, we have had a brief debate. The manager of the bill, the chairman of the committee, has moved to table the Feingold amendment. I want to add my comments to the debate on that issue.
This is an amendment which I strongly oppose and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to oppose it. This is part of a continuing campaign of harassment against the Navy's No. 1 program, the No. 1 program of the U.S. Navy. This campaign has had a long, and to date totally unsuccessful, history. We all know the problems in the court systems when individuals flood the courts with frivolous lawsuits. We, in providing procurement funds for the Navy, have had a string of what I consider to be less than good-faith, responsible amendments directed at this program.
The amendment before us purports to cut funds from a Navy procurement program and earmark them for the National Guard operations and maintenance fund. As a long-time and strong supporter of the National Guard, I recognize the limited funding the Guard has, and I have worked with my colleagues, the chairman and the ranking member of the Defense Appropriations Committee, and the Senator from Kentucky, my cochairman of the National Guard caucus, to fund adequately the Guard component of the total force. But I do not believe that pitting one service against the other, raiding the Navy's No. 1 procurement program, is the way to fill that funding requirement. No, this amendment is not a step forward for good government. It has been proposed for no other reason than as a reckless assault on a program which has successfully cleared every production hurdle with room to spare.
I have been advised by Major General Edward Philbin, Executive Director of the National Guard Association of the U.S., that NGAUS is not supporting this program because, among other things, it would simply create problems between the National Guard and the Navy. This, to me, is a very unfortunate step when, as pointed out by the distinguished Senator from Hawaii, all services are facing shortfalls. We have to address the inadequacy in funding for the National Guard and all of the other services. But I can tell you that this amendment is totally uncalled for.
The F/A-18E/F is the Navy's No. 1 priority procurement program. If you ask the Secretary of the Navy or any of the fleet carrier strike-fighter aviators what will enable the Navy to be viable in the 21st century and beyond, they will tell you it is the Super Hornet. Yesterday the CNO was in my office with one of the fine young men who fly the F/A-18. They reemphasize this is their No. 1 program. They cannot afford to take cuts in the program such as proposed on the House side, or particularly as proposed in this amendment. I think it is a sad day when some Members, for reasons known to themselves, would wish to pit the National Guard against the Navy. I think it is irresponsible and could lead to services raiding each other's accounts to achieve an individual Senator's political goals.
In January of 1997, the Senator from Wisconsin led an effort to terminate the F/A-18E/F. He failed. Since then, he has continued what appears to be a vendetta against the program, and now his intent is slowly to drain the money from the aircraft by continuing a plan to reduce the number of aircraft and the funding available, to make a full-rate production decision nearly impossible.
When you talk with the people in the Navy who know what their needs are, who know what the future of naval aviation is, they will insist, and they will tell you that this is the airplane that they must have. If we want our men and women in naval aviation to carry out the missions we demand of them, then we have to provide them the modern, up-to-date, efficient aircraft, technologically superior, that the E/F F-18 gives us.
I remember full well several years ago when the distinguished ranking member of this committee, the Senator from Hawaii, said, `We don't ever want to send American fighting men and women into a battle evenly matched. We want to send them in with the technological superiority, the training, and the capability and resources to make sure they win.'
Mr. President, that is what the 18E/F gives us. It gives us that technological superiority. It gives us the ability to make sure we have the best chance possible of bringing our naval aviators home safely, having accomplished their mission.
The F/A-18E/F has already been scrutinized in the Quadrennial Defense Review. It has been scrutinized by the National Defense Panel. It has undergone GAO study after GAO study. It has been tested by pilots at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station and the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake. It has accumulated 2,749 test flight hours, over 1,800 flights, and numerous aircraft carrier landings. It has never had a catastrophic failure. I wish other tactical air programs could meet these standards. It has test fired just about every weapon the Navy might need it to carry. It is on time, it is on budget, and it needs to get underway.
I ask my colleagues, if they have any question about the value of this plane, ask somebody who flies one. Ask somebody who has had the opportunity to fly it. Ask somebody who we are sending in harm's way, asking them to fly a fighter and attack aircraft off a carrier, ask them how important they think the F/A-18E/F is to their ability to carry out their mission and to come home safely. If you will ask the naval aviators, whose lives are on the line, I have no question what their response is going to be. I have heard it myself. Any of my colleagues who wish to contact somebody they know in naval aviation or in the Navy itself, I believe they will tell you it is the No. 1 priority.
Mr. President, this is simply a bad amendment, and I sincerely hope that my colleagues will vote overwhelmingly with the chairman of the committee and the ranking member to table this unwise amendment. I thank the Chair. I yield the floor.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, the distinguished Senator from Missouri states that my amendment is a `reckless assault' on the Navy's Super Hornet program. This could not be further from the truth.
My amendment to increase funding for the National Guard is simply that; an amendment to correct most of a dangerous shortfall in funding for the National Guard's operations and maintenance account. To raise as little controversy as possible in finding an offset to the funding increase, I chose a provision already agreed to by the other chamber. Not only did the House agree to funding procurement of 27 Super Hornets in FY99, the body authorized funding for the identical amount.
In speaking to the reduction, Chairman of the House Military Procurement subcommittee, Duncan Hunter said, `We think it's a rational, responsible reduction, a balanced reduction.' Does this mean Chairman Hunter is recklessly assaulting the Super Hornet program? Is Chairman Hunter diminishing the value of the Navy's aviation fleet? Is Chairman Hunter questioning the value of the Super Hornet? I don't think Chairman Hunter was, or ever will be, accused of any of those things. That's why, Mr. President, it boggles my mind why I now stand accused of all those things. It's a plain mischaracterization of my amendment.
This amendment is not about gutting the Super Hornet program. This amendment is not about pitting one service against another. This amendment is not about diminishing the Navy's aviation fleet. This amendment does not question the value of the Super Hornet.
Mr. President, this amendment is about an adequate level of funding for the National Guard and priorities in our armed forces. This amendment is about giving priority to the National Guard's readiness levels, capabilities, force structure, and end strength. This amendment is about bringing the Guard's personnel, schools, training, full-time support, and retention and recruitment to adequate levels. This amendment, is about ending a slide in the morale of our citizen-soldiers.
Finally, my friend from Missouri states that the National Guard Association of the United States does not support this amendment. I'm sure he made his case very forcefully to them. I counter by saying that the association does not oppose this amendment either. In fact, a majority of State Adjutants General, 26 of them so far, have contacted my office to add their names in support for my amendment. I hope my colleagues will draw their own conclusions from that figure. Indeed, I urge my colleagues to contact their State Adjutant General and ask them for their opinion of my amendment.
I urge my colleagues to support the National Guard, as I do. I urge my colleagues to vote against tabling my amendment.....................
The PRESIDING OFFICER. There are 2 minutes equally divided on the Feingold amendment.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, this amendment is about the National Guard. This amendment is about priorities in our Armed Forces, not about the merits of any aircraft proposed to be added to the Navy's aviation fleet. This amendment fills in almost all of the dangerous $225 million shortfall in the National Guard's O&M account. As an offset, we use the House's recommendation on Super Hornet procurement for the coming fiscal year.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, this amendment is supported by 25 State adjutants general. I hope my colleagues contact their State adjutants generals to get their opinion before casting their vote. I urge colleagues to support the National Guard and to vote against tabling this amendment.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, this amendment will eliminate the Navy's highest priority, or I would say the Defense Department's highest priority for the Navy, the F-18 E/F. It would move that money into the National Guard. We have already increased the National Guard by more than $500 million above the budget request. So that approval of the National Guard Adjutants is a facade. This is to kill the F-18. I urge that the Senate support my motion to table.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion to table amendment No. 3397.
The yeas and nays have been ordered.
The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk called the roll.
Mr. NICKLES. I announce that the Senator from North Carolina (Mr. Helms) is absent because of illness.
I further announce that, if present and voting, the Senator from North Carolina (Mr. Helms) would vote `aye.'
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber desiring to vote?
The result was announced--yeas 80, nays 19, as follows:
The motion to lay on the table the amendment (No. 3397) was agreed to.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote.
Mr. INOUYE. I move to lay that motion on the table.
The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, could we have order for just one moment.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate will be in order.