PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF MOTIONS TO SUSPEND THE RULES ON WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 1997, OR THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 1997 (House of Representatives - April 09, 1997)

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Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for the time. I include for the Record the articles to which I referred:

From the National Security Report, April 1997

U.S. Defense Budget: Walking the Tightrope Without a Net

The Clinton administration's defense budget request of $265.3 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 1998 represents a 2 percent real decrease from current (FY 1997) spending. As such, it continues a 13-year-long trend of real defense spending decline and it marks a 38 percent real reduction in spending from defense budgets in the mid-1980s.

The FY 1998 defense budget request represents 3.1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, down more than 50 percent from the 1985 level of 6.4 percent. The FY 1998 defense budget request, when measured in constant dollars, represents the smallest defense budget since 1950.

Indeed, cuts from the defense budget have provided a substantial contribution to reductions in the federal deficit in the 1990s. In fact, defense cuts account for the vast majority of deficit reduction to date that is attributable to the discretionary budget. Based on the president's FY 1998 budget, between FY 1990-2000, entitlements and domestic discretionary outlays will increase substantially, while outlays for defense will decrease 32 percent. So the trend continues.

From the standpoint of military capability, the administration's FY 1998 defense budget request perpetuates the mismatch between defense strategy and resources--the widening gap between the forces and budgets required by the national military strategy and the forces actually paid for by the defense budget. In January 1997, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the president's defense budget to be underfunded by approximately $55 billion over the course of the next five years. However, many independent analyses, including that of the General Accounting Office, assess the shortfall to be much greater.

The FY 1998 defense budget request also reflects the administration's continued pattern of cutting long-term investment funding necessary for the modernization of aging equipment in order to pay for near-term readiness shortfalls. The FY 1998 procurement request of $42.6 billion is actually less than current (FY 1997) procurement spending levels and approximately 30 percent below the procurement spending level identified by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as necessary to modernize even the smaller military of the 1990s.

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Since 1995, the administration has vowed to end the `procurement holiday,' but its plan to increase modernization spending is skewed heavily toward the later years of the five-year defense program, with the bulk of the proposed increases projected to occur beyond the end of the President's second term in office.

The inability to field new systems is highlighted by the administration's lack of funding for missile defenses. Six years after the Gulf War, which demonstrated both the strategic and military importance of effective ballistic missile defenses, the administration continues to shortchange spending for such programs, cutting the national missile defense program to protect the American people from the threat of ballistic missile attack by over $300 million from current (FY 1997) spending levels.

One of the primary reasons modernization spending continues to be reduced and used as a `billpayer' for shortfalls elsewhere in the defense budget is the administration's persistent underestimation of readiness and operational requirements. The FY 1998 defense budget request includes $2.9 billion less for procurement and $5.2 billion more for operations and maintenance (O&M) spending than was projected for FY 1998 by the administration just last year. This miscalculation results from the Pentagon's underestimation of its own infrastructure and overhead costs as well as from the continuing high and costly pace of manpower-intensive peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.

The diversion of troops, equipment, and resources from necessary day-to-day training in order to support these ongoing operations means that even those O&M funds being requested are not purchasing the kind of readiness central to the execution of the national military strategy.

Although the administration contends that the post-Cold War defense drawdown--a drawdown that has cut the nation's military by one-third since 1990--is nearly complete, the FY 1998 defense budget request reduces both the Navy and Air Force below the personnel levels mandated by law and below the levels called for by the national military strategy. While military forces are shrinking to dangerously low levels, the pace and duration of contingency operations are increasing. These conflicting trends are hurting military readiness, are eroding quality of life, and are certainly not conductive to maintaining a high quality, all-volunteer force in the long run.

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