NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998 (House of Representatives - June 19, 1997)

[Page: H3959]

Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman, I rise again to pay tribute to both the chairman and the ranking member and the appropriate subcommittee leaders and also to follow up on the comments of my good friend, the gentleman from Maryland [Mr. Hoyer].

My colleague makes a good statement that defense has always been a bipartisan issue in this city, and it still is today. We have all acknowledged that the success of enduring what has been a very difficult pattern of cuts over the past 5 years has basically been provided by both Democrats and Republicans. It is not something that we on the Republican side take credit for. In fact, I think many of our disagreements are more between this institution and the White House than it is between Republicans and Democrats in this body.

Now we are criticized the last several years for our add-ons. We are told that we were putting money that was not needed by the troops, by the chiefs. What we heard this year, Mr. Chairman, were requests by the chiefs for $20 billion of additional program needs that were not requested by the administration.

Every one of us who serves as a chairman of a subcommittee or ranking member was visited by all the services saying these are absolute priorities. But Mr. Chairman, it was not limited to the service chiefs. We had the administration come back to us, the President, after criticizing us for increasing funding for national missile defense for 3 straight years, and say to us this year, we made a mistake, we want you to provide $2.3 billion of additional money for national missile defense.

We had to find $474 million this year above what the President asked for because the President said we need more money for missile defense. The President said we had needed to fund a high energy laser program for Israel's protection called THEL. Yet the President never gave us a dollar amount.

We had to beg the Army on the day of the markup to give us a figure. We are finally able to arrive at a $38 million figure even though the administration had told us last year it was their No. 1 priority when, in fact, the facts did not bear out the rhetoric.

Mr. Chairman, our bill is based on the threat. We are not saying we want to recreate the cold war, but we know what is happening in Russia. We see the demise of the conventional forces in Russia; and with that demise, we see a heightened reliance on strategic offensive weapons.

Just a year ago, in January, the Russian long-range ICBM's were out on full alert. Boris Yeltsin himself announced publicly that he had activated the black box because of a Norwegian rocket launch to detect weather conditions.

Now, Mr. Chairman, that is reality. There have been numerous records of threats from Russia of missile material. We have the evidence of accelerometers and gyroscopes going from Russia to Iraq which were used for long-range ICBM's. We were told by the intelligence community that no one would deploy a system that would threaten our troops because we would see it tested first.

Yet just 1 month ago, as reported in every major international media, North Korea fully deployed the No Dong missile system after one test. That No Dong missile system, with the range of 1,300 kilometers, now poses a real risk that we cannot defend against to every one of our troops in Japan, South Korea, and Okinawa. That is what this bill is about.