(Mrs. CLAYTON asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend her remarks and include extraneous matter.)
Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Speaker, there has been a great deal of debate over the issue of funding a new aircraft carrier. Despite the procedural and jurisdictional problems we have encountered here in Congress, this is an issue of great importance to our national security.
This matter was considered as a part of President Clinton's Bottom-Up Review of our Defense strategy. The conclusion of that study was that a new carrier needs to be built, and that funds for this purpose should be made available in the next budget submission. This carrier issue is not new to Congress, for it was only last year that the House and Senate authorized and appropriated $832 million to begin construction on a new carrier to replace one built in the 1950's. The question now before us is whether or not we will make final payment on the carrier. In the long run, estimates show that we can save the American taxpayers at least $200 million by efficiently beginning CVN-76 on the heels of the carrier now being completed.
Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, Chairman Inouye made a statement on the floor of the other body making a powerful case for funding CVN-76 in this year's Defense appropriations bill. I ask unanimous consent that his remarks be printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks, and I implore my colleagues to read this powerful argument. I also ask that a brief executive summary of a recent study on the role of aircraft carriers in the 21st century by printed in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks.
Let's do the right thing and fund CVN-76.
Mr. Inouye. Mr. President, during the debate on the fiscal year 1994 Defense appropriations bill certain statements were made which gave an unfavorable characterization to the committee's decision to provide funding for a new aircraft carrier. I believe it would be useful to examine these comments in their proper context.
The committee-reported bill recommended $3.4 billion to complete--and here. I would underscore the word complete--the financing of the CVN-76, the next nuclear aircraft carrier. The House Appropriations Committee had recommended an appropriation of $1 billion to partially finance the remaining balance of the carrier. Specific authorization for this action was denied on the House floor, Nonetheless, the House-passed bill still provides $1 billion in undesignated shipbuilding funds, presumably, for this purpose.
Unfortunately, Mr. President, some have argued that the carrier is a new start which is both unauthorized and unrequested. Mr. President, I want the record to be clear. This is not a new start. The administration requested, and the Congress authorized and appropriated, $832 million in fiscal year 1993 to begin work on this aircraft carrier. These funds paid for the purchase of nuclear components for the ship. The Navy began spending these funds last fall. Work has already begun on the carrier. All of these funds have been obligated. So, regardless of what others may argue, through these actions, the Congress has already made the decision to buy the carrier; now the question is when should the remaining funds be provided.
My colleagues should understand that DOD planned to request funds to complete payment for the aircraft carrier in 1995. While this would allow for the carrier to be built with few perturbations in the shipyard work force, it is not the most cost effective method to purchase the carrier.
President Clinton's budget for fiscal year 1994 took no decisive action on the aircraft carrier. Instead, the decision to continue to purchase the carrier was to be reassessed in the Bottom-Up Review--in conjunction with an analysis and formulation of overall carrier force structure levels. The Bottom-Up Review process carried out this in-depth analysis of the requirement for aircraft carriers. The review determined that the Navy must have 12 aircraft carriers to meet force structure requirements. With that decision, the DOD validated the need to build the next carrier.
So, the question recurs: When should the carrier be funded? The Appropriations Committee reviewed this matter and determined it would be appropriate to finance the balance of the ship's costs in 1994. There are several budgetary reasons for this. First and foremost, by funding the carrier in 1994 instead of 1995, the Congress can save $200 million--6 percent of the remaining requirement. This is not a trivial sum.
Second, in conducting its review of the budget requirements for DOD the committee was able to identify sufficient funds to pay for the remaining balance in 1994.
With the conclusion of the Bottom-Up Review in August, many changes were made in the financial requirements for DOD programs. In most cases this information was not available to the authorizing committees until their review of program requirements had already been virtually completed. Because we came later in the process, the Senate Appropriations Committee was able to tailor its recommendations to these results.
The Bottom-Up Review also established several basic tenets for future defense requirements. The committee adopted many of the underlying premises of the Bottom-Up Review in making its adjustments. As a result, the committee's recommendations freed up $3.4 billion in budget authority and $170 million in outlays, sufficient funding to cover the costs of the aircraft carrier in 1994. For good and sufficient reasons, the committee chose to allocate these funds to complete--again, underscore complete--the purchase of the CVN-76.
Mr. President, reaching the budget targets in 1994 has not been easy. It should be made clear to all Senators that 1995 will be a more difficult budget year than 1994. The Appropriations Committee will be required to cut $24.7 billion below the CBO baseline in 1995. In addition, DOD has identified a short-fall of $13 billion in achieving its budgetary goals over the next 4 years. Providing $3.4 billion for the carrier in 1994, instead of 1995, helps alleviate these problems. And, as I noted, we also save $200 million in total costs for construction of the carrier.
Mr. President, it has been falsely suggested that the committee cut research and development funds in order to pay for the carrier. That is not correct and those who have made this unfounded charge should know better. The subcommittee reviewed research and development funding requested by the President and reduced the request based on the merit of individual programs. The savings identified helped the committee reach its overall outlay target. Coincidentally, it also freed up budget authority which could be allocated for the carrier.
In debate on the Senate floor it was said that the outlay impact from this decision to fund the carrier in fiscal year 1994 will exacerbate an assumed outlay shortfall in 1995. This is also incorrect. The outlay impact from financing the carrier in 1994 in $442 million in 1995. Had the committee spent the $3.4 billion on research programs, the outlay impact in 1995 from those programs would have been in excess of $1.15 billion--and the Congress would be faced with the unhappy prospect of providing $3.4 billion in budget authority in 1995 for the carrier. The committee's recommendation will actually lower outlays in 1995 by more than $870 million.
Mr. President, the decision to complete the financing of the CVN-76 in 1994 instead of 1995 makes good business sense. I would not want to be in the position of trying to explain to the American taxpayer that, when the Congress provided $832 million in fiscal year 1993 for advance procurement of items which can only be used in a nuclear carrier, it really had not authorized the new carrier. That does not make any sense to me and would not make any sense to the taxpayers.
I am prepared to explain the decision to complete financing of the carrier in fiscal year 1994. We will find it easier to stay on the path to a declining defense budget, if we finance the $3.4 billion in remaining costs this year. This decision reduces outlays in 1996 compared to spending the funds on research. And, best of all, it saves $200 million in the total cost of the ship. I hope all members now understand the committee's recommendations and support this approach and I urge the conferees on the Defense authorization bill to adopt it as well.
The defining events of the 1990s--the end of the Cold War, the war in the Gulf, and the dismantling of the Soviet empire--have had a profound effect upon U.S. security planning. Reflected in the Defense Department's `Bottom-Up Review,' the Clinton administration is undertaking a major reassessment of defense force structure and logistical support networks designed to meet the challenges of the post-Cold War world, while taking into account public sentiment for greater defense economies now that the Soviet threat has dissipated.
But the breakup of the Soviet Union does not mean that U.S. interests are free from risks. There have emerged new risks in the global security environment--risks that may require the employment of U.S. forces. As the one nation that remains uniquely capable of projecting substantial power beyond its shores--and, hence, having at least some impact on the shape of the post-Cold War world--the United States may find it necessary to deploy its forces to regions where vital U.S. interests may not be at stake, but in which broader humanitarian and democratic values are being challenged. Indeed, the deployment of U.S. contingents to such widely varied crisis settings as Somalia, Northern Iraq, Liberia, and recently Macedonia, has already demonstrated the importance of maintaining flexible forces able to respond to a variety of requirements. As peacekeeping and peace-making operations assume a greater priority in U.S. foreign policy planning, and missions of humanitarian relief and disaster assistance--both at home (as in the case of clean-up operations after Hurricanes Andrew and Iniki) and overseas as well--become the norm rather than the exception in the employment of U.S. forces, civilian and military planners will be compelled to find imaginative solutions to the problem of developing a range of force packages for use in multiple contingencies.
Inevitably, the challenges of security in the 1990s will place greater emphasis on `jointness,' both among the U.S. Services and in connection with allied and coalition planning. Because the aircraft carrier platform is large enough to integrate a mix of Marine, Army and Air Force assets with its own considerable striking power, it will be central to U.S. joint planning in the future--both for peacetime forward presence missions and wartime operations. By virtue of its geography, the United States is a maritime nation whose welfare and global role depends on unimpeded access to the world's sea lines of communication (SLOCs). Even though there may be relatively little direct threat to U.S. navigation on the open seas (now that the Soviet Union has been dismantled), the potential for conflict in key regional theaters is very real--conflicts that could escalate into open warfare either involving the engagement of U.S. forces, or posing a threat to U.S. (and allied) commercial and strategic interests, or both. With the proliferation of weapons technologies and the growing lethality of the forces of potential regional adversaries, the capability of the aircraft carrier battle group will provide to a joint commander or theater CINC an important enabling force of facilitate crisis response, sustained military operations, conflict escalation, and war termination.
In future theater contingencies--the primary planning focus of the new strategic guidance that is emerging from the Pentagon--there is likely to be a premium placed on those U.S. and allied forces that can:
deploy to a theater of operations in a timely fashion;
prevent minefields from being laid in the sea approaches to the area;
protect sea-lift assets en route and at the point of arrival and departure;
deliver firepower against an array of targets whose interdiction would give the adversary's leadership pause to reflect on utility of proceeding further with its warfare objectives; and,
offer a range of flexible options, in terms of strike planning, escalation control, and war termination.
Against any range of theater scenarios, the aircraft carrier and its associated systems' assets (including its battle-group combatants, but also its deployment of long-range precision-guided missiles and new generation sensor-fuzed munitions) contribute an unparalleled capability to meet any of these objectives, while providing a tangible demonstration of U.S. capability and will--thereby offering U.S. policymakers a unique crisis management and deterrent tool.
Pressured by defense budget cuts, which could be even more severe in the out years, the number of aircraft carrier platforms in the active inventory of the Navy is likely to be a subject of contentious debate. As a capability that could aptly be described as a moveable piece of `sovereign America,' the aircraft carrier can steam to a crisis location without raising tensions in countries that are not involved. Operationally, it would also not be encumbered by the political debate that often accompanies requests for the overflight of national territory, or that is inherent in requests for access to local basing facilities. The aircraft carrier platform, moreover, can bring to the scene of a crisis tangible evidence of U.S. resolve, and provide the basis for coordinating joint and combined operations if a given situation warrants the use of military force.
For all these reasons, it would be foolhardy for the United States to reduce its carrier force to a level that could not provide for a flexible forward presence policy. In view of the political-psychological mindset that forms a central aspect of national security decision-making, it may be more difficult to commit (and mobilize) U.S.-based forces for regional crisis deployment missions than it would be to put carrier-based assets already near or in the area in question on alert status. Planning a force structure to fight in two major regional contingencies `nearly simultaneously' (to use Secretary Aspin's recent formulation) requires a prudent planner to retain the Navy's preferred minimum number of twelve carriers in the force structure. Reducing the number of carriers in the U.S. fleet to ten would result in significant deployment gaps, increased time at sea for sailors, and an inability to react to crises with the flexibility that is necessary to ensure a timely and effective response. Even with a twelve-carrier force, key regions-notably the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and the Western Pacific-could only be covered about eighty percent of the time.
In its search to make prudent decisions about force structure (while recognizing the need to achieve some, reasonable defense economies), the Clinton administration needs to appreciate the risks associated with a decision to reduce the number of carrier platforms below twelve. The costs to the nation of doing so will in the long run far outweigh any near-term defense savings that some think can be so derived. By themselves the intangibles associated with the deployment of a credible forward presence posture centered around twelve carrier battle groups by far exceed (in value) the hoped-for defense economies of cutting the carrier program-and this includes the costs of building a new carrier, CVN-76, to being to nine the number of Nimitiz-class carriers.
CVN-76 construction carries profound and far-reaching implications for the ability of the United States to sustain a nuclear shipbuilding industry. Construction of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier entails special skills and a comprehensive base of second- and third-tier suppliers--all of whom are not common to the construction of a nuclear-powered submarine. A decision not to fund the new carrier, or to push off its funding until after fiscal year 1995, will likely result in the disappearance of critical job skills that are crucial to the nuclear carrier shipbuilding industry. If new carrier construction were delayed, or stretched out--an alternative that is apparently being considered--the result is likely to be a far more expensive program, due to the need to accommodate the loss of key suppliers and to recreate and qualify skilled teams to do the work. Overhaul and refueling work on existing carriers simply would not provide enough work for major component suppliers in the industry to justify their staying in business. Thus, any decision delaying or canceling the construction of CVN-76 will have major implications for both the domestic economy and the defense industrial skill base. Moreover, such a step would affect adversely our ability to reconstitute and mobilize forces if confronted with a major global contingency or the need to fight in two theaters simultaneously.
One option that might be pursued is an incremental funding strategy for CVN-76. Under such an arrangement, the critical vendor base could be sustained through the authorization of funding on three or four `ship sets' of highly specialized equipment for the carrier (e.g., nuclear cores, special reactor pumps, and hydraulic plants). Such funding, in the form of another year of advanced procurement funding for CVN-76, would be a second-best means of preserving the vendor base; yet it would maintain the option to build the tenth nuclear carrier, and would moreover be consistent with the administration's domestic and global priorities.
Viewed in this context, the carrier emerges as central to sustaining an adequate forward presence capability, and assuring a flexible maritime instrument for responding to the variety of potential local conflicts and crisis situations--ranging from humanitarian assistance to peacekeeping, conflict management, and war termination. Clearly, the preferred option would be maintaining twelve carriers in the Navy's force structure--with earlier rather than later investment in CVN-76 production and development. At the very least, it is necessary to secure and sustain a degree of incremental funding sufficient to maintain the vendor base critical to future U.S. carrier construction. If CVN-76 is not funded, the United States may be forfeiting its future ability to build aircraft carriers in a cost-effective and timely manner. The operational implications of failing to move ahead with CVN-76 will undermine the Navy's ability to maintain adequate global presence, and could well hamper any President's ability to respond to unfolding crises swiftly and in an appropriate manner.