NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998 (House of Representatives - June 20, 1997)

Mr. DELLUMS. Mr. Chairman, I have listened very carefully to both sides of this debate, and I would like to indicate to my colleagues that I rise in strong support of the amendment offered by my distinguished colleague.

Now let us have the discussion.

I would ask my colleagues:

`Would you authorize new construction on a base you're going to close?'

The point I make here is that if we know where we are headed, we know where we are going, the only issue is how do we get there most efficiently, most effectively, and, in this limited dollar environment, most economically.

I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that we think boldly, not this incremental cautious step that ends up costing the American taxpayers billions and billions of dollars at a time when we do not need to spend them.

Now, when my colleagues on this side of the aisle in support of the amendment have indicated that it would save them $5.67 billion, Mr. Chairman, that is only part of the savings.

My colleagues who oppose this amendment said: But we will have to upgrade C-4 missiles .

Think boldly. I am going to give my colleagues a proposal that does not require them to improve C-4 missiles .

Think boldly. I am going to give my colleagues a proposal that does not require them to retrofit.

Think boldly. I am going to give my colleagues a proposal that does not allow them to have to worry about two missiles .

We are sitting here debating about whether it is boats or missiles . It is about warheads. The boats and the missiles are only the delivery system. What we are looking at, at this point, are a large number of boats with few warheads.

Think boldly. Few boats, greater number of warheads, saving the American taxpayers not just $5.7 billion, but two to three times more money at a time that we live in a limited dollar environment.

What is the proposal? Go now to 10 boats. The Navy could then with 10 boats meet essential requirements under START II today and the anticipated requirements under START III framework tomorrow. We can do both simultaneously.

Think boldly. Not from 16, 14, 13, 12; go to 10. My colleagues know where they are headed. Save the money.

We have been talking about a 5-year budget agreement where we have to scrutinize every dollar. Well, get out of this little cautious approach that we have and save people money. By varying the number of missiles outloaded per boat and the number of warheads uploaded per missile this can be accomplished within the current 350-missile inventory.

This approach would save us, as I said, from expensive C-5 retrofit for four to eight boats. That is not necessary, the multibillion-dollar cost to buy 84 D-5 missiles planned through the year 2005, and the operation and support costs associated with the above.

Do the math on that, Mr. Chairman; we have saved the American taxpayer $10, $15 billion.

But move beyond the point that they are trying to make. We all know that we are trying to go to a new world. We all know that we are moving toward fewer and fewer nuclear weapons and greater capability.

My colleague from California says this is unilateral disarmament. That is bizarre. What we are looking at, at this point, is the Navy buying a fixed amount of missiles and then varying the boats.

Now, one does not have to be too smart to recognize that a boat costs a hell of a lot of money, a lot more money than the missile . I say turn it around, think rationally, vary the number of missiles , fix the number of boats. Go quickly to 10. I know it is bold, but I want to shake my colleagues up some. We have been talking about saving American people money. This is not about unilateralism. Those are euphemisms and hot-button words, but rational intelligent, thought says that we ought to go someplace, save money.

With those thoughts I am in enthusiastic and overwhelming support to the gentleman's amendment.

One last point. If there is any problem with the gentleman's amendment, it is that he has thought further out than most people have thought. He got here faster than anybody got here. This debate is a preview of a debate that we are going to have next year and the year after next. I compliment the gentleman for his over-the-horizon forward thinking. He got there before everybody did.

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