Congressman Jim Cooper

Representing the 5th District of Tennessee
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Cooper Slams “Defense Contractor’s Dream” Amendment

Jul 14, 2017
Press Release
Says Pentagon, Congress Should Ensure Weapons Work Before Buying Them

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) spoke on the House floor this week to strongly oppose an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would reduce oversight and weaken requirements on weapon acquisitions related to the Missile Defense Agency.

“This is not a vote on whether we are for or against missile defense,” Rep. Cooper said on the House floor. “I am strongly for missile defense. I just want to make sure that it works.”

Despite Cooper’s opposition, the amendment, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO-5), passed the House 235-189 on Friday. It would eliminate Congress’ “fly-before-you-buy” rule, removing the Secretary of Defense from the process of vetting and approving billions of dollars’ worth of missile defense weaponry.

In his floor remarks, Rep. Cooper called the amendment “a defense contractor’s dream.”

“[This] is a vendor’s dream, [this] is a defense contractor’s dream, because it would enable them to sell stuff to us – the American taxpayer and to the citizens of this country – promising national defense, but not proving it,” Rep. Cooper said.

The existing rule requires the Secretary of Defense to refrain from buying and deploying such weaponry until the Secretary believes there is enough data to know the weapons – missile defense interceptors among them – will work reliably and as intended.

A member of the House Armed Services Committee and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Rep. Cooper noted that Rep. Lamborn’s amendment was not voted on in committee or subcommittee votes on NDAA. The Pentagon and the Missile Defense Agency do not support Rep. Lamborn’s amendment, Rep. Cooper added.

“We need to fly it before we buy it. We need to test it before we invest in it,” Rep. Cooper said. “We need to make sure that it works before we fork over the dough.”