Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) delivered the following opening statement at today’s subcommittee markup of the Fiscal Year 2012 Defense Appropriations bill.

“Today, the Subcommittee meets to make recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2012 Defense Appropriations Bill. Last week the full Committee agreed to an allocation for the defense bill of $513 billion in the base budget. This freezes the defense bill at the fiscal year 2011 level, and represents a nearly $26 billion reduction to the President’s budget request. In addition, the recommendation includes $117.8 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, which is the same as the budget request.

“While this was not an easy allocation to meet, I can assure you that that this recommendation takes care of our men and women in uniform and their families, fully supports military readiness, protects the forces, and maintains our technological edge. It complies with the earmark moratorium and contains no congressionally directed spending items.

“The bill fully funds the requested military endstrength and the 1.6 percent authorized pay raise for military personnel. In addition, the bill adds over $250 million for military personnel shortfalls that were identified to the Committee after the budget was submitted.

“We recommend nearly $40 billion for the defense health program, an increase of $1 billion from the fiscal year 2011 level. The bill ensures that our military and their families are provided the quality healthcare they deserve and invests in life saving medical research.

“While some have publicly stated that we could not meet our allocation without sacrificing military readiness, I can assure you that the Vice Chairman and I have taken extra caution to protect readiness funding in the bill. Reductions recommended in our operation and maintenance funds come almost exclusively because of lax budgeting practices by the Military Departments.

“For example, in fiscal year 2011, the Committee reduced operation and maintenance funding for the Army by over $4 billion that the Department identified as excess to their requirements. Not only was that $4 billion not needed, but throughout the year the Department has requested to reprogram an additional $2.8 billion out of the Army’s operation and maintenance account to pay for lower priority programs that could not make their way into the budget request. In fiscal year 2012, we reduce $2 billion that the Army informed the Committee that it cannot spend. Other reductions are based on continued poor budget formulation.

“Our recommendation also ensures that our military forces have the force protection equipment they need to conduct military operations. For instance, the bill includes an additional $250 million to cover shortfalls the Department identified for vehicle survivability upgrades to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (M-RAP) vehicles; over $2.4 billion for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization; an additional $500 million for National Guard and Reserve Equipment; and an additional $240 million for Abrams tank upgrades.

“The bill also invests in cutting edge research so that the U.S. military maintains its technological advantage over our adversaries well into the future. The bill fully funds the budget request for the Department’s basic research programs and increases funding in critical technology areas such as cyber security, nanotechnology, and space situational awareness.

“At the same time, in order to meet our allocation, we had to substantially reduce the budget request. While some of the cuts will be considered tough, we believe they are not only fair but prudent, and represent an important step in improving the Department’s fiscal accountability in this difficult budget environment.

“There are nearly 600 line-item reductions recommended in this bill. Most of these reductions are made as a result of program terminations, schedule delays, program changes since submission of the budget last February, inadequate justification, unaffordable future year costs, or corrections to poor fiscal discipline.

“Let me elaborate on a few of the more significant recommendations.

“The Department identified more than $10 billion in funds that they no longer require in fiscal year 2012. For instance, $5 billion of funds requested are excess due to troop reductions in Afghanistan that the President announced after the budget was submitted; $1.6 billion is cut based on an overstated requirement for Afghanistan Security Forces which was identified to the Committee by the lead Commander in Afghanistan for training; $135 million is reduced from the tanker replacement program since the Air Force informed us that they could not spend these funds next year; and over $1.5 billion is rescinded in prior year funds that the Department identified to the Committee in June.

“We recommend a $695 million reduction to the Joint Strike Fighter program. We continue to strongly support this program and believe that the F-35 is showing progress since it was restructured last year. However, excessive concurrency in development and production still exists. The test program is only 10 percent complete, yet the request continues to ramp up production of aircraft in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. We recommend maintaining production at the fiscal year 2011 levels for two more years in order to limit out-year cost growth. For each aircraft we build this early in the test program, we will have to pay many millions in the future to fix the problems that are identified in testing.

“The bill terminates the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program due to excessive cost growth and constantly changing requirements. The Committee believes that alternatives exist today to meet the Army and Marine Corps’ requirements to recapitalize and competitively upgrade the HUMVEE fleet, and supports funding for those programs.

“The recommendation does not fund the Navy’s request for an additional Mobile Landing Platform ship since the Congress funded it the fiscal year 2011 appropriation bill. We believe that this remains an important requirement and expect the Navy to fund the third ship in the fiscal year 2013 request.

“In summary, we believe that the fiscal year 2012 recommendation is not only fair, but presents a carefully balanced set of recommendations in this austere fiscal climate that provides all that is required to meet our national security needs while maintaining our strong commitment to our men and women in uniform.”