03.27.19

Senator David Perdue Chairs First Seapower Subcommittee Hearing

“We will work with the Navy and Marine Corps to build a larger, more capable fleet, while demanding the best use of every taxpayer dollar.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, today led his first hearing as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower. Chairman Perdue will use his business experience to ensure the Pentagon is using resources in the most efficient and effective manner.

Click here to watch Chairman Perdue’s opening remarks.

Senator Perdue Seapower 3

Chairman Perdue’s Opening Remarks:

This is my first public meeting as chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee. I’m humbled to be leading this Subcommittee and will do all I can to support our men and women in uniform. 

Today, we have the smallest Army since WWII, the smallest Navy since WWI, and the oldest and smallest Air Force ever. At the same time, we face complex threats from China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran. A robust naval fleet is critical to deter aggression worldwide, project power, and support our allies. The Subcommittee on Seapower will provide vital oversight and support for our Navy and Marine Corps as they work to meet this increasing demand for global missions.

I want to thank Senator Wicker and Senator Hirono for their leadership over the past four years. I hope this Subcommittee will continue to work in a bipartisan manner.

Earlier this month, the Subcommittee received a classified threat assessment and learned how our Navy and Marine Corps plan to operate in the face of these ever-growing, new threats. As we begin consideration of the budget request, this briefing was very helpful in providing context for our next series of budget-focused hearings on shipbuilding, naval aviation, and Marine Corps ground systems. Thank you again, Admiral Merz and General Berger, for your participation in that and for the private briefings that you guys have given us. 

In 2016, the Navy increased its minimum requirement to 355 battle force ships, a reflection of the strategic shift to great power competition. Today, the Navy stands at just 289 battle force ships. While I understand the Navy is reassessing the fleet size requirement, I believe the need for a larger, more capable fleet is clear. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about the Navy and Marine Corps’ plans to achieve these requirements as soon as possible.

In addition to a global security crisis, we also have a national debt crisis. Last month, our national debt hit $22 trillion. General Mattis and others have called the debt the greatest threat to our national security, and I agree. It is no secret that Congress’ failure to pass a budget on time hamstrings our military and limits our ability to plan for future missions. 

While there are many factors beyond the control of this Subcommittee, the Secretary of the Navy’s comments caught my attention in December 2017 when he said, “Continuing Resolutions (CR) have cost the Department of the Navy roughly $4 billion. Since 2011, we have put $4 billion in a trashcan, put lighter fluid on top of it, and burned it.” I wish I had been clever enough to make that quote. That’s pretty good. 

Budgeting by CRs is no way to run the government and Congress must do better. In this regard, I would like to hear from our witnesses regarding the budgetary and operational impacts of continuing resolutions and the return of sequestration in fiscal year 2020. 

Additionally, I would like to review a number of other shipbuilding-related topics, including:

·       The ongoing Force Structure Assessment and the factors that led the Navy to conduct this Assessment

·       Greater clarity on the long-term funding plan and challenges related to welding and quality assurance with the Columbia-class submarine program

·       Aircraft carrier programs, including the Department’s proposal to inactive the USS Harry S. Truman more than two decades early, as well as testing challenges on the lead ship in the Ford-class, USS Gerald R. Ford

·       The Navy’s plan to recapitalize the nation’s strategic sealift fleet

·       Options to improve acquisition performance on lead ship

This subcommittee will continue to work with the Navy and Marine Corps to build a larger, more capable fleet, while at the same time demanding the best use of every taxpayer dollar.  

I look forward to our witnesses’ testimony. I now recognize Senator Hirono, and thank her for her steadfast commitment to this Subcommittee over the last four years.

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Senator Perdue is the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress and is serving his first term in the United States Senate, where he represents Georgia on the Armed Services, Banking, Budget, and Agriculture Committees.