Jun 10, 2021
Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Mike Turner (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing on the FY22 budget request for nuclear forces and atomic energy defense activities.
Rep. Turners’ remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to welcome back Ms. Dalton. She had so much fun with Admiral Richard back in April, she’s come back for more. I’d also like to welcome Dr. Verdon, Admiral Wolfe, and General Dawkins. Thank you all for your service.
I’d like to begin however, by pointing out that it’s June 10th and we are just now receiving President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget. This late submission makes it incredibly difficult for us to get a bill through the House floor, conferenced with the Senate, and to the President for signature before the end of the fiscal year. This late submission makes it all the more likely that we’ll have some sort of Continuing Resolution, which will hamstring our warfighters and slow down key defense priorities. I would like to hear from the witnesses on specifically the impacts to our nuclear forces and atomic energy activities resulting from yet again, beginning the fiscal year under a continuing resolution. I have offered legislation, the ‘It’s About Time Act,’ that would align the fiscal year with the calendar year. This would buy the Department of Defense as well as the other Federal Departments and Agencies an additional three months annually, allowing Congress to complete its work, rather than setting the DoD up for failure each year when it has become the new normal that the fiscal year will begin under a CR.
Additionally, I am also disappointed in the overall top line number and its failure to keep up with inflation. It’s wholly inadequate and is quite frankly irresponsible and dangerous. This low top-line is why we’re seeing key defense programs underfunded in this budget. This budget doesn’t provide the resources necessary for items such as bolstering missile defenses for Guam, funding the Homeland Defense Radar – Hawaii, and shortchanging the Navy shipbuilding. If we can’t keep up with inflation, how are we supposed to keep pace with increasing threats from China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia.
This budget is not ALL bad though. The bipartisan consensus forged during the debate over the New START Treaty, to modernize all three legs of our nuclear deterrent, seems to have held with this budget. Key programs that began under President Obama, such as Columbia Class submarines and the B-21 bomber were fully funded in the Biden FY22 Budget submission. The same goes for replacements for the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) and the Minuteman III ICBM. The two replacements for these systems, the Long-Range Stand-off Weapon (LRSO) and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) respectively, were begun in 2016, when their Milestone-A decisions were signed during the Obama administration. All four of these systems were started under Obama, continued under Trump, and are now being funded by Biden. This speaks volumes and I look forward to working with my Democrat colleagues to see these systems reach Initial Operational Capability.
In fact, the only system that began under Trump and is still being funded in the FY22 President’s Budget Request is a new nuclear-capable Sea Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N). However, on this program specifically, I was disappointed to read that an Acting Secretary of the Navy, without hearing the results of a Nuclear Posture Review, has directed the service to zero out the program in Fiscal Year 2023. Vladimir Putin, who has scores of nuclear-capable cruise missiles of his own, is I am sure snickering at this unilateral concession. Its decisions like defunding SLCM-N, like waiving Nord Stream 2 sanctions and throwing Ukraine under the bus; like missing deadlines for Navalny CBW Act sanctions, that only serve to undermine our efforts to deter our adversaries and encourage their acts of aggression, particularly before the summit in Geneva next week. We’re left wondering what other unilateral concession Biden will give to Putin in Geneva. Admiral Wolfe, I hope you can enlighten us today on any advice you made to the Acting SECNAV on the SLCM-N decision.
Getting back to the budget, I was pleased but unsurprised to hear that GBSD will be $38 billion cheaper than a Minuteman III Life Extension. Minuteman III is at the end of its life and trying to life extend it further is an exercise in tilting at windmills. I’d like our witnesses to get into the specifics on their GBSD budget calculation and lay-out how the USAF got to $38 billion in savings. I also hope our witnesses will explain what we will get for the modest plus-up in LRSO. Last, but not least, and despite Tuesday’s news, I want to know when we will receive the SLCM-N Analysis of Alternatives. I was hoping that we could leverage existing programs, such as LRSO perhaps, to get SLCM-N here quickly and cheaply. Despite the Acting SECNAV memo from yesterday, we still want the SLCM-N AoA, and would prefer not to read the results in a press leak.
Finally, the New START Resolution of Ratification also called for modernizing the NNSA infrastructure that has been put-off for far too long. I’m glad to see the two-site solution for Pit Production was fully funded and I look forward to working with the New Mexico and South Carolina delegations to getting those sites completed. Dr. Verdon, I appreciated hearing Secretary Granholm and Dr. Jill Hruby fully backing this approach. I also wanted to thank General Hyten, Dr. Kahl, and yourself for coming up and briefing us on the status of the two-site solution. Hearing the three of you back it in unison was also quite helpful. But you certainly have your work cut out for you.