June 15, 2021 – U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing on the Department of the Navy’s FY22 budget request.
Rep. Rogers’ remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you to our witnesses for being here today and for your service to our nation.
At his confirmation hearing, Secretary Austin said that “China presents the most significant threat going forward” and that China should be viewed as our national security “pacing threat”.
I wholeheartedly agree.
I was optimistic that the President would hear that rhetoric from the Secretary and turn it into action.
But I was being naïve.
Rather than keeping pace with the threat from China, the President’s budget would let them lap us.
One need not look much further than the request for the Department of the Navy.
The President requests a paltry 8 battle force ships, 2 of which are tugboats.
At the same time, the President wants to retire 15 other battle force ships, including 7 cruisers.
Those 7 cruisers provide more afloat missile capability than almost the entire British fleet.
But the cuts don’t end there.
The budget would break a multiyear destroyer procurement; truncate key developmental programs like railgun; and pass on critical munitions investments like tomahawk missiles and heavy weight torpedoes.
This budget is throwing the shipbuilding industrial base further into disarray.
Shipbuilders are laying off workers because of the lack of Navy vision and chronic underfunding.
Even strategies that save money are beyond the ability of this administration to support.
Despite testimony that smart amphibious ship acquisition would lead to over $700 million in cost savings, the administration has elected to take a pass.
While this administration dithers, China is rapidly growing and modernizing its navy. Our fleet of 296 ships has already been eclipsed by the Chinese fleet of over 350 ships and submarines.
China has more than 1,250 ground launched ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges between 200 and 2,000 miles.
The United States currently fields just one type of conventional ground launched ballistic missile with a range of 30 to 120 miles.
I’m also concerned about the strike fighter gap.
This budget fails to fund additional super hornets or F-35’s for the Navy.
That leaves us with a critical capability gap in the near term that Congress will have to fill.
Setting back our credible deterrent even further is Acting Secretary Harker’s call to eliminate the Nuclear Sea-Launch Cruise Missile.
The DNI recently reported that China is fielding a full nuclear triad and is expected to reach 1,000 warheads by 2030.
In light of this growing threat, the recommendation to end SLICK-EM-N is both short-sighted and dangerous.
It is almost as if the President developed this budget with little understanding of what is required to deter conflict and, if necessary, win the next war.
Quite simply, this budget has little to do with pacing China. I refuse to support it.
We should be expanding and modernizing our naval capabilities as called for by the Trump administration.
I’m disappointed the Biden Administration doesn’t see the threat from China the same way.
I look forward to working with the majority to pass a real defense budget that supports modernization and ensures a credible deterrence.
Mr. Chairman, on an administrative note, I understand this will be our last day operating under COVID restrictions.
I am pleased to hear that starting tomorrow, all Members will have the option of joining us in person.