Cooper tells House Armed Services Committee that "America deserves better"
"Impacts of a Continuing Resolution and Sequestration on Defense"
House Armed Services Committee Full Committee Hearing
February 13, 2013
COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This is a sad day for this committee, a sad day for Congress, a sad day for America.
The witnesses have basically told us of a military emergency that’s going to be facing this country, but I don’t sense that we feel like there’s a Congressional emergency.
This is one of the largest, if not the largest committee in the House of Representatives, and apparently we don’t have the ability to force a vote between now and March 1 when sequestration kicks in. Maybe there’s one scheduled that I’m not aware of, but basically the House has been doing trivial pieces of legislation for the last several weeks. We’re about to go on a district work period next week.
So as our nation faces a crisis and this is the Armed Services Committee, we are doing almost nothing. In fact, there’s not even good attendance at this hearing.
To hear the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and all of the Chiefs, this is amazing. There’s a disconnect here.
As Dr. Carter said, this is all a result of collateral damage from political gridlock. And a lot of the Members’ statements, we’re hearing more signs of political gridlock.
This is a congressional responsibility and this is the Armed Services Committee. What are we doing about it?
We have the power to fund a short fall. Let’s use that power.
If we refuse to do that, we at least have the power to give yall the flexibility to minimize the damage. We’re not even doing that because we insist on micromanaging the Department.
So let’s take some responsibility here. As General Dempsey said, if we won’t fund the mission, let’s have the courage to admit a smaller mission. We’re refusing to do that.
So why does this Committee exist if we don’t take responsibility, if we don’t do our job?
Our men and women in uniform are doing their jobs. We in Congress are not.
And we’re about to take a week’s vacation right as sequestration is about to hit. How does that make sense?
We do not even curb our CODELS much less take salary reduction as a result of shared sacrifice principles like Dr. Carter and others are doing who are political appointees.
We are political appointees. We’re lucky enough to get elected by our folks back home. What are we doing to help our military?
Mr. Chairman, best I can tell, this Committee is doing little or nothing except talking about it. And yet we are about the largest committee in Congress.
We presumably have enough votes, enough clout with both parties to get something done, shake something loose before it’s too late.
As you all know, as a practical matter, it’s already way late. Fourth quarter growth last year was negative partly as a result of defense drawdowns already anticipating problems.
And we’re about to make that worse due to Congressional inaction and Congressional gridlock?
America deserves better.
Mr. Chairman, I think it’s up to this committee to do better. And we have precious few days left to do it.
I would urge my colleagues and I would urge Congressional leadership. Let’s at least have a vote on this before sequestration happens.
Let’s go on record. Let’s not just duck and dodge as Congress has been doing for too long.
America deserves better, and America deserves a vote.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MCKEON: Thank you, Mr. Cooper. It is – this is the largest Committee in the Congress. We have 62 members. We have 34 Republicans and 28 Democrats. I’ll just point out that this is a bipartisan committee and we do strive always to work in a bipartisan way. 31 of the 34 Republicans are here in this hearing today or have been here. I agree with you. I don’t know why everyone isn’t here. And we have introduced bills as Mr. Thornberry said. He introduced one, I’ve introduced one. And we’ve tried to move things in this but the problem of funding that you’re talking about generates from other committees so within the jurisdiction of our committee, we got our bill passed last year, we got our bill passed the year before and we’ve the done the things that – if you have other things that we can – could do within our jurisdiction, I would be happy to see that we have a vote in this committee.
COOPER: If the Chairman would yield, how about flexibility for the Department of Defense? So that at least they have the discretion to manage within their means?