The legislative clerk read as follows:
The committee on conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the amendment of the Senate to the bill (H.R. 3616) have agreed to recommend and do recommend to their respective Houses this report, signed by a majority of the conferees.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate will proceed to the consideration of the conference report.
(The conference report is printed in the House proceedings of the Record of September 22, 1998.)
Mr. THURMOND. Mr. President, as the Senate takes up the conference report on the national defense authorization bill, it brings to an end a process that began in February with the introduction of the President's defense budget by Secretary Cohen. During the intervening months, the committee conducted more than 50 hearings which identified the declining readiness status of our military. In response, the committee formulated a bill that addressed these issues and garnered the support of both the civilian and military leadership of the Department of Defense.
The committee completed the markup of the defense bill in mid-May. However, due to the intervening debate on the tobacco bill, the Senate took more than four weeks to complete action on the bill. Although the floor debate was protracted, I want to thank my colleagues for their overwhelming 88 to 4 vote in favor of the bill, and for their contributions during the floor debate.
The Senate's strong support of the bill was a key factor during the difficult conference with the House. When we began the conference to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills, we faced a veto threat on four provisions. I am pleased to report that we were able to mitigate each of these objections. At this point, I am not aware of any remaining veto issues, and expect that the President will sign this bill.
Mr. President, tomorrow prior to the vote on final passage, Senator Levin and I will provide specific details on the conference report. Suffice it to say that this is a very good bill and contains vital provisions necessary for the security of our nation. However, like all compromise bills it does not please everyone and, unfortunately, one Senator has objected to provisions in the bill and delayed action on the report despite the fact that all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House National Security Committee signed the conference report and despite the fact that the House passed the bill by a vote of 373 to 50. I am disappointed that it took until today to get the report to the floor, but am certain that the Senate will show its strong support for the bill when we vote tomorrow.
Mr. President, I want to emphasize again that this is a sound bill. It provides the best possible outcome for our national security while complying with the guidelines established in the balanced budget agreement. I recommend the conference report on the national defense authorization bill for fiscal year 1999 to the Senate and urge its adoption.
Mr. KYL. I thank Senator Warner. I thank Senator Thurmond, the chairman of the committee, as well.
As the Senator knows, I have raised an issue with the tritium provisions included in the fiscal year 1999 National Defense Authorization Act conference report. And I would be happy to engage in this colloquy with respect to that issue.
As the Senator knows, the conference report provision regarding tritium states, among other things, that `the Secretary of Energy may not obligate or expend any funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise available to the Department of Energy for fiscal year 1999 to implement a final decision on the technology to be utilized for tritium production, made pursuant to section 3135 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998.'
I am concerned that the administration will use this provision to continue to delay progress on this important program and build in a one-year delay in meeting DOD requirements.
Can the Senator please explain the intent of this provision?
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, again, I worked very closely with Chairman Thurmond throughout the conference, and I can reply to my colleague's question. I would be pleased to explain the impact of this provision.
The intent of the proposed compromise is to keep the Department of Energy tritium program moving forward. The proposed conference agreement would require the Secretary of Energy to select his preferred tritium technology not later than December of this year, consistent with the requirements of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998. Although the Secretary would be prohibited from spending any money in fiscal year 1999 to implement the selected technology, he would not be prohibited from completing research, development, demonstration, or design activities, and, indeed, we strongly encourage him to do so.
I would like to call on the Senator from New Hampshire, Strategic Forces Subcommittee chairman Bob Smith, for a few comments on this.
Mr. SMITH. I thank the Senator. I share the concern of the Senator from Arizona about tritium. We must have a new source of tritium to maintain the U.S. nuclear deterrent. As chairman of the subcommittee that is responsible for this issue, I can assure all of my colleagues that I am fully committed to ensuring that the Department of Energy meets DOD's requirement for new tritium production.
I have made timely restoration of tritium production one of my highest priorities as chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. For the past 3 years, the committee has taken action to accelerate DOE's tritium selection process. We have accelerated the Secretary's decision date twice and increased the DOE tritium budget three times. This year, we added $60 million to the tritium program in the committee's markup. The conference outcome reflects a $20 million increase to the tritium program because that was the highest amount included in the energy and water appropriations bill.
The committee has taken these actions to ensure that the tritium program continues to move forward and we will continue to do so in the future.
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, the committee has a long history of keeping the Department of Energy focused on restoring tritium production to meet defense needs.
Unfortunately, we found that the Department of Energy had not requested adequate budget authority nor developed sufficient plans to effectively implement a tritium production source decision, which the Secretary is required to make in December of 1998. The conference report requires the Secretary of Energy to submit with the President's fiscal year 2000 budget request a comprehensive plan on how he would implement his preferred technology. The plan would include a proposed implementation schedule, annual funding requirements for the life of the project, any legislation needed to implement the technology selected, and an assessment of the viability of purchasing tritium, if necessary for national security purposes, on an interim basis.
By requiring the plan to be submitted with the President's budget, Congress can act if we find the selected technology cannot reliably meet defense requirements, the implementation schedule is too lax, or funding is inadequate.
Mr. KYL. I thank the Senator.
Is it the Senator's understanding that, should the Department of Energy submit a deficient plan or fiscal year 2000 budget request, the committee will take action to rectify the problem?
Mr. WARNER. I say to my colleague, in brief, the answer is yes. Consistent with the committee's previous actions, we would address any schedule our funding shortfalls identified in the Secretary's plan and budget request. We fully expect that Secretary Richardson will submit the required plan on time and that the plan will include a credible budget request for this important program.
Mr. KYL. Is it further the Senator's understanding that the Department of Energy may reprogram funds to implement its December 1998 tritium production decision?
Mr. WARNER. In response, Mr. President, the Department is not restricted by this legislation from requesting permission to reprogram funds to implement its December 1998 tritium production decision. We expect the Secretary to take all actions necessary to restore a permanent and reliable tritium production source in time to meet established DOD requirements, and that includes reprogramming funds if necessary.
The comprehensive tritium implementation plan required by this bill requires the Secretary to submit a life-cycle plan to fully fund and implement whichever technology is selected. We intend to review that plan very closely to ensure that it can be implemented and that it will result in the delivery of tritium by the date required by the Department of Defense.
Mr. KYL. I thank the Senator.
I hope the Department does submit a reprogramming request to implement the December decision.
Is it the committee's intent to indicate in any way to the Department or other parts of the Federal Government that the committee expects DOE to defer selection of a preferred tritium source in December of this year?
Mr. WARNER. I say to my colleague, as I stated previously, the legislative provision included in this conference report requires the Secretary to select his preferred option not later than December 31 of this year.
Mr. KYL. The Senator from Virginia and Chairman Thurmond have been strong and consistent proponents of the tritium production program. What is the Senator's view about how we should proceed at this point?
Mr. WARNER. First, I would say we should ensure that the Department of Energy's fiscal year 2000 budget request be adequate to ensure delivery of tritium on a schedule that meets the Department of Defense requirements defined in the Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Memorandum.
Second, it is the responsibility of the Armed Services Committee, working with other committees of the Senate, to ensure that the program plan and budget laid out by the Secretary of Energy in January of 1999 are credible and will allow the Department to meet the requirements of the Department of Defense. This means, among other things, that the Department of Energy is going to have to submit more credible budget requests than it has in the past.
Third, we are prepared to consider reprogramming requests or other actions DOE believes necessary to meet tritium production requirements on the schedule identified by DOD.
Mr. WARNER. I agree. As a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, I fully expect Secretary Richardson to submit a budget in fiscal year 2000 and the outyears that includes adequate funding for our tritium source.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I too am concerned about the tritium production decision and its future funding. My position over the last several months focused on the debate to retain the decisionmaking authority of DOE so that the Department might be free to make the most technically feasible, cost-effective decision to meet our national defense needs. I share the concerns of my colleagues about the delay of implementation and the need for adequate funding, and I am hopeful that DOE will include full funding for a tritium production source, not only in fiscal year 2000, but in the outyears as well.
Mr. WARNER. If I can say further, the Senator's colleague, the senior Senator from Alabama, likewise worked with the Armed Services Committee in the course of this very important resolution of this issue. That is Senator Shelby.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I appreciate the commitment that Senator Warner and other members of the Armed Services Committee and Senator Sessions have expressed regarding this program. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that a new tritium source is implemented on schedule meeting DOD requirements.
Again, I thank Senator Warner for his cooperation in helping to bring this matter to the floor at this time.
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I thank our colleague.
This is a subject that would not ordinarily attract the attention of a great many because it is a very complex and technical one. But this fine Senator, Senator Kyl, has devoted much of his career to working with strategic programs. For that, I express my gratitude and, indeed, on behalf of most, if not all, of our colleagues for his very industrious and thorough work for many, many years as relates to the Nation's strategic programs.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I rise at this time to express my opposition to specific language in the defense authorization conference report prohibiting the use of fiscal year 1999 funds to implement the decision of the Department of Energy regarding a production source for tritium. Specifically, the language states as follows:
The Secretary of Energy may not obligate or expend any funds authorized to be appropriated or otherwise available to the Department of Energy for fiscal year 1999 to implement a final decision on the technology to be utilized for tritium production, made pursuant to section 3135 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 1998 . . . until October 1, 1999.
Mr. President, anything that might delay implementation of a tritium production program ought to be of great concern to all of us. Tritium is the key to maintaining the credibility of our nuclear deterrent. Without a reliable source of tritium, our nuclear forces could become impotent, thereby undermining the very essence of a deterrent that has kept the peace for more than 40 years.
Mr. President, for the benefit of those who are not as familiar with the program, tritium is a gas that is injected into a nuclear warhead to boost its yield. Once it is produced, however, tritium begins to decay at a rate of approximately 5 percent per year, therefore it must be replenished constantly.
The United States has not produced tritium since 1988 when the Bush administration made the decision to shut down the K-reactor at the Savannah River site. Since that time, replenishment of tritium in the stockpile has continued only by recycling it from dismantled nuclear warheads.
When the Bush administration made the decision to shut down the K-reactor, it immediately embarked on a new production reactor program with the purpose of identifying and selecting a new production source for tritium.
Mr. President, I should say at this point that I have no parochial interest in what type of technology the Department of Energy selects to produce tritium. I favor only the option that will provide an assured source of tritium in the timeframe necessary to meet the requirements set by the Department of Defense. My interest in tritium dates back to the 1988 decision by the Bush administration when I was the ranking minority member of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Panel of the House Armed Services Committee.
It is because I have no parochial interest and that I have had such a longstanding interest in ensuring a reliable source for tritium in the United States that I rise in opposition to the actions taken by the conferees in the fiscal year 1999 defense conference report.
For 10 years, the Congress has been on record as encouraging DOE to make a decision on a tritium production source. A report issued by former Senator Sam Nunn in 1990 said:
The committee strongly supports the acquisition of a new production reactor, believing an assured supply of tritium is the highest nuclear material priority in support of the nation's nuclear deterrent forces.
A 1992 defense authorization report from the Senate stated:
As long as the United States maintains a nuclear deterrent it will need a reliable supply of tritium to retain the viability of the stockpile.
A 1995 House report stated:
The Committee is deeply concerned about the lack of progress by the department in establishing a long term source of tritium, which is necessary to maintain the nation's nuclear deterrent.
And section 3135 of the fiscal year 1998 defense authorization bill required the Secretary of Energy to select a production source for tritium not later than December of this year.
For 10 years, Congress has been on record as pushing the Department of Energy to select among all of the technologies once thought to be optimum to produce tritium. First, there was the heavy water option, then the modular, high temperature gas cooled reactor, then a triple play reactor. Even the heavy metal reactor came under consideration. The Fast Flux reactor was next, and then the commercial lightwater reactor and finally the accelerator. Now DOE is selecting between the TVA reactor option--a civilian lightwater reactor that may include irradiation services only, and building a particle accelerator at the Savannah River site.
For ten years, Congress has pushed and pulled DOE along to make a decision on a production source for tritium. Until now. This year, inexplicably, just three months before the Secretary of Energy will make a decision Congress has been waiting for ten years to hear, the conferees decided to stop the DOE from expending or obligating any funds to implement its December decision. Why?
I certainly do not intend to criticize any individual Senator on the Armed Services Committee. Certainly they have all acted with deep concern for the national security of the United States. Senator Bob Smith, the chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over DOE nuclear matters and a strong advocate for a new production source, attempted to add $60 million to the budget line for tritium. He was thwarted for a variety of reasons.
Senator Thurmond, the chairman of the full committee, has always fought hard to protect the interests of his state; but he has fought equally hard for the interests of all Americans in national defense matters. And Senator Warner, with whom I just had a colloquy, attempted to do his best in this regard, as well.
So why did the Congress prohibit the Department of Energy from spending or obligating funds to implement the tritium production decision? The answer is: politics. This conference compromise, I am sad to say, is all about politics. In the House, anti-nuclear foes teamed up with Members promoting one of the options under consideration by DOE, forming a coalition that threatened to jeopardize the entire defense authorization bill. Senate conferees had to find a `compromise' just to get the bill out of the conference committee. And the only compromise the House would agree to was calculated to allow advocates for the losing production option to challenge the Secretary's decision for a year, in effect, without prejudice.
I would be remiss in my duty if I did not express my strong opposition to this language, because I believe it is tragic that a matter of this magnitude--literally going to the viability of our strategic stockpile--might be influenced by parochial interests.
I can assure my colleagues that one of my top priorities from this point forward will be to ensure that the Department of Energy selects a tritium production source, that the Department requests adequate funds to implement its decision in fiscal year 2000 and beyond, and that the Department be allowed, indeed required, to proceed with the production of tritium without hometown politics or anti-nuke groups stopping it or slowing it down.
Force level requirements will dictate when the United States needs tritium. If START I levels are maintained, the United States may need tritium as early as 2005. Since it will take several years to complete TVA's Belefonte reactor or to build an accelerator, two of the options, we are already bumping up against the deadline to begin producing tritium for the active stockpile. We already know that tritium will not be available for the inactive stockpile. That means if there's a crisis, the United States will not be able to bring the inactive stockpile into the inventory.
Many hope that the United States and Russia will reduce their strategic forces to START II levels; however, there is no evidence that the Duma in Russia is inclined to ratify START II. And, U.S. law prohibits U.S. forces from being reduced beyond START I levels until START II enters into force. The Resolution of Ratification for the Start II Treaty states, `The START II Treaty shall be binding on the United States until such time as the Duma of the Russian Federation has acted pursuant to its constitutional responsibilities.' At the START II level, the United States must make a decision on a tritium production source without delay.
So, I support the requirement that Secretary Richardson make that decision this December, and I pledge to work as hard as I can to ensure that the decision is carried through to the actual timely production of tritium. I urge my colleagues, including those in the House, to put the nation's interests first, and support a timely implementation of a tritium production facility decision.
I appreciate that the majority leader will make a strong statement tomorrow making clear his commitment to provide the leadership to ensure the achievement of that goal. And, the colloquy with Senator Warner and Senator Smith of the Armed Services Committee and Senator Sessions should make it clear that the Senate leaders on this issue are all strongly committed to seeing that the DOE follow up the Secretary's Decision with everything necessary to meet our tritium production requirements.
With these assurances strongly asserted here today, I am hopeful the congressional majority will hereafter present a united front, leaving no doubt that the administration must move with dispatch to implement the tritium production decision. As a result, I will support the conference report.
I want to take this opportunity to clarify what the conference agreement actually does. The tritium provision included in this bill will not cause any meaningful delay in the resumption of tritium production. Let me repeat that so all of my colleagues are clear about this point--our conference provision on tritium does not cause any meaningful delay in the Department of Energy's tritium production program.
Energy Secretary Richardson stated this fact in a letter dated September 24, 1998, in which he said that the conference provision will have a `minimal impact' on DOE's tritium program.
Just so all Senators will understand the compromise agreement we made on the tritium issue, I want to take a few moments to explain it.
First and foremost, we require the Secretary of Energy to select his preferred technology on time, in December of this year. Second, the Department of Energy is prohibited from spending only about 5 percent of the overall tritium program budget in fiscal year 1999. The conference agreement does not, however, limit the DOE from spending funds for design, research, or demonstration activities. These design, research, and demonstration activities account for approximately 95 percent of the program that DOE presented to Congress this year, which the Congress authorized. Thus, virtually all of those activities which the Department intended to conduct in fiscal year 1999 are authorized to be conducted by the conference agreement and the conferees expect the Secretary to complete those activities in fiscal year 1999. This includes much of the work to be conducted on the tritium extraction facility, which would be constructed regardless of which technology were selected by the Secretary. Third, and most importantly, we require the Secretary of Energy to submit a comprehensive plan in January, 1999--just 20 days after he makes his preferred technology selection--on how tritium production will be restored. Such a plan does not exist currently, nor has one been proposed by the administration. This comprehensive implementation plan goes to the very issue raised by the Senator from Arizona.
So I hope all Senators can readily see that we managed to achieve a compromise on this very difficult issue, with virtually no adverse impact on the tritium program, while avoiding a veto threat, and satisfying most of the desires of most members.
This is a very strong bipartisan bill. Every member of the conference committee--both Democrats and Republicans--have indicated their strong support the conference agreement by signing the conference report, which as many of my colleagues know has not happened in many years. This is a good conference report and it should be passed with unanimous support.
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I would like to address the importance of bringing up the defense authorization bill. I first commend my distinguished friend, long-time friend, Senator Thurmond, and our ranking member, the Senator from Michigan, Mr. Levin, and all members of our committee, together with staff, for a very hard job throughout the year to put together the bill and now the conference report which Chairman Thurmond worked out with his counterparts on the House Armed Services Committee.
These are very difficult times in the history of our Nation. I look back over my lifetime when in World War II and the very closing days of that war I served briefly in the U.S. Navy. There was absolute clarity in the minds of all who served in uniform, in the minds of every citizen of the United States. We knew who the enemy was, what they stood for, what their capabilities were, and there was no doubt as to what this Nation should do to bring that conflict to an end, and, indeed, it was done.
Subsequently, in the Korean war, President Truman made a very bold and correct decision to draw the line in the face of communism. Again, it was understood, understood by all of us in uniform. I happened to have served a second tour in the Marines in that conflict. All of us understood that as well as the people back home. Through his courage, he did draw that line against communism.
In subsequent conflicts, indeed in Vietnam, there was a measure of clarity. I wish to stress, that clarity does not exist today. Today, the problems confronting the security of this Nation, as well as that of our allies and friends, lack clarity. It is very difficult, in many instances, to determine who is the enemy, what are their capabilities, and, most important, Mr. President, what are their intentions to inflict harm on this great Nation or the nations of our allies or, indeed, the free peoples of the world.
That is why yesterday we had a historic meeting of the Armed Services Committee. Before that committee appeared the chiefs of the several services, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marine Corps, together with General Shelton, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. It was a very important meeting.
Reports today in the press describe, and, indeed, we had strong differences of views, but the issues are so serious, they merited nothing less than strong expressions of opinion by Members of the Senate, and, indeed, the members of the Joint Chiefs, I think in a very steadfast and credible manner, stated what their positions are today and for the future. There is no doubt in my mind that those fine individuals, all of whom I know very well, have foremost in their hearts the interests of this Nation and the people, the men and women who proudly wear the uniform of this country and the thousands of civilians who dedicate their careers to work in the Department of Defense or other agencies directly related to our national security.
Yesterday was a landmark hearing. We, as a matter of practice, in the Armed Services Committee, whenever these men--hopefully someday women--come before that committee seeking confirmation of the U.S. Senate to become a chief of staff, it is a long tradition of our committee that we obtain from them their commitment, at any time the committee so desires, to have them present to testify and to give their personal opinions regarding the state of the Armed Forces of the United States and the need for the President and for the future.
They did that yesterday in a very forthright and courageous manner. They had consulted with the President, they had consulted with the Secretary of Defense, and they came before the Senate Armed Services Committee and laid down with specificity the respective needs of their departments. Those needs, in my judgment, should be addressed as quickly as possible by the Senate, then by the Congress, and those dollar needs authorized and appropriated so that we can restore the full confidence of those who proudly wear the uniform today in their ability to endure the hardships and the risks associated with military service and to having nothing less than the best equipment to carry out their respective missions proudly as soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.
I commend the chiefs for their testimony yesterday. I think our colleagues, in the course of the hearing, elicited, by way of questions and other colloquy, important facts which make an irrefutable case to bring before this body in the very near future requests for immediate funding to take care of certain needs and then, in the next fiscal year, considerable sums of money, Mr. President, for each of the military departments and, hopefully, lay down the foundation for the outyear budgets to be increased in amounts comparable to those in the year 2000 budget so that, once again, America can avoid, in the words of the respective members of the chiefs, a hollow military force.
I remember so well that period when General Shy Meyer, then Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, used the phrase `a hollow army.' It resonated not only in the Department of Defense and in the Halls of the Congress and not only in the United States, it resonated all over the world, that America, the superpower--at that time there was a second superpower, the Soviet Union--but the superpower acknowledges that its army was hollow, that they lacked the quality and the quantity of personnel,
that they lacked the equipment to defend the security interests of this country and to associate with our allies wherever it might be in the world in the cause of freedom.
It was a real bugle call. And this Nation responded, largely through the leadership of President Reagan, to build back America's military strength. Well, we did not reach, in the judgment of the Chiefs--and I concur in that judgment--we did not reach that bottom that would in any way reflect back on the hollow Army of the early 1970s, fortunately, because the Chiefs have come to the Congress and stated their case.
Now I am absolutely confident--and indeed I hope for the participation of the President and the Secretary of Defense--that the Congress will begin to do the necessary authorizations and the appropriations to pull, in the very words of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that aircraft which is nosed over in the dive, pull it out and to bring it back up to that level of readiness, that level of quality of life that the men and women of the Armed Forces deserve--that level of a military that will leave in the minds of Americans and people all over this world no doubt that the United States has behind it, the military power to support its foreign policy and to preserve the cause of freedom here at home and wherever we are challenged throughout the world.
I thank the Chair.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I first commend the Senator from Virginia for his eloquent remarks, highlighting the result of the very important hearing yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee and calling all of us to the challenge of providing the adequate resources necessary for our armed services to carry out their mission in the defense of the security interests of the United States of America. It was an eloquent statement, and I think it is something that all of us need to take to heart.
Again, I want to thank Senator Warner for his efforts, largely I suspect unappreciated, because they are behind the scenes to deal with all of the myriad of problems in putting together a defense conference report and assisting the chairman of the committee, Senator Thurmond, and working with our House colleagues as well. The colloquy that we had a moment ago was, in significant respect, to the result of his efforts. And I appreciate that.
Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, would my colleague yield the floor?
Mr. KEMPTHORNE. I would be pleased to yield to my friend.
Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I appreciate the leadership that my friend and colleague, Senator Kempthorne, has shown on this legislation. He has raised a very important point here today. Anyone familiar with ranching in the West knows that an economically viable ranch requires access to large blocks of land to raise livestock in an environmentally sound way. With the intermingling of federal, state, and private lands in our state of Idaho, access to BLM land is essential for ranchers. Any time 12,000 acres are withdrawn from an existing BLM allotment, it will dramatically impact the rancher who holds the permit for that allotment. Blocked up land is more easily and economically managed. Scattered parcels have the opposite effect. There may come a time, as contemplated by the legislation, when the Air Force would relinquish its control over these lands. While Air Force relinquishment of the withdrawn lands may not occur for what would be considered a long time by most people, members of the ranching community measure such events by the passing of generations, and that end result can reasonably be anticipated. And so, I seek clarification for the inquiry initiated by my colleague from Idaho. The answer to his question will be vitally important to whoever holds the permit surrounding the withdrawn land at such time as the Air Force would, in fact, relinquish it to the Department of the Interior. I thank my colleague for yielding.
Mr. KEMPTHORNE. I thank the Chair and I thank the managers of this important legislation for their response to our inquiry. Mr. President, I wish to determine whether the managers of the legislation agree with my understanding as to one additional provision. Section 2917(b)(3) of the Juniper Butte Range Withdrawal Act provides for delegated authority and approvals granted by the Bureau of Land Management pursuant to the decisions of the Secretary of the Interior, or the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. Section 2907(b)(1) specifically refers to the authority of the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management to grant rights-of-way and approvals must be granted by the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management. This is as it should be. Mr. President, I ask the managers of this legislation if my characterization is accurate?
Mr. THURMOND. Mr. President, the Senator from Idaho has correctly interpreted the intent of the conferees as to the authority of the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management. It is the intention of the conferees that the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management shall grant rights-of-way and approvals and take such actions as are necessary under Section 2907(b)(1).
Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I have been listening to the discussion of the Juniper Butte Range Withdrawal as it pertains to grazing permits and the delegation of authority. As to the relinquishment of withdrawn lands to the Department of the Interior for grazing use, I fully agree with the statements of the Senators from Idaho. I also agree with the need to clarify the congressional intent regarding the delegation of authority, as stated by my friend, the junior Senator from Idaho.
Mr. KEMPTHORNE. Mr. President, again, I wish to thank the managers of the bill and the senior Senator from Virginia for their cooperation in clarifying the congressional intent.
Ms. SNOWE. Mr. President, I rise in strong support of the fiscal year 1999 Defense authorization conference report.
This bill emerges in the turmoil of a post-cold-war world--one demanding a U.S. military that can face transnational developments such as weapons proliferation, regional tyrants such as Saddam Hussein, and emerging powers such as China.
As a result, the authorization cycle of the last few months allowed Congress to bring the Pentagon's budget into alignment with the changing Armed Services on which the nation will rely to deter a broad and unpredictable spectrum of global threats to U.S. national security.
The conference report emphasizes a type of warfare that will loom large in future defense planning: littoral operations near coastal plains. Accordingly to the Navy's official definition, littoral engagements require forces to maneuver `close enough to influence events on shore if necessary.'
This post-Soviet mission connects our force structure to our security interests since 80 percent of the world's population lives near the shorelines and waterways that open into the littorals.
The priorities established by the conference report demonstrate how littoral concepts have started to displace more conventional ideas of weapons development.
Major research and modernization programs, for example, share the common goal of delivering increased firepower, speed, and precision at a lower cost.
Ship and aircraft architectures have sacrificed the hard angles prone to enemy detection in favor of modular composite materials that leave smaller signatures on a radar screen.
Smaller crews will maintain more advanced command an control systems configured for instant data transmission.
And self-guided missiles now assume the targeting role that concentrated divisions of heavy armor had to bear in the past.
In addition to high technology hardware, Mr. President, efficient training programs remain critical to the evolution of the military. I am therefore pleased that the bill allows the Armed Services to manage their gender-integrated training policies as commanders and instructors have designed them.
The new international security environment gives us new guidelines to measure the readiness of the Total Force. Active duty men and women must subsequently continue to train as they will deploy to accomplish the gender-neutral task of supporting our war fighters.
Common sense means that recruits destined to repair fighter-bombers, frigates, submarines, and missile launch tubes should train the same way, under the same standards, and at the same time.
Common sense means that radar operators, quality assurance engineers, and military police should follow universal rules of engagement for males and females who wear identical uniforms.
Yet we would suspend our common sense by pretending that the solution to workplace harassment means the segregation of enlistees into isolated training components.
We have to move beyond the charge that integrated training fosters sexual misconduct to ask how the men and women of the All-Volunteer Force can each play a decisive role in support of combat readiness.
It is for this core mission purpose, rather than the testing of social policy theories, that the armed services unite men and women to acquire the skills expected of all soldiers.
Gender-integrated training maximizes the return on the taxpayers' defense investment in making all service members accountable for a range of logistical, medical, and technical jobs that sharpen the ability of the Defense Department to protect both our homeland and the country's core interests abroad.
Finally, Mr. President, both the House and Senate defense authorizing committees struggled this spring with the nation's incoherent contingency operations policy. By the end of the coming fiscal year, the taxpayers will have devoted $9.4 billion to the maintenance of our Bosnia mission since the conclusion of the Dayton peace agreement in November 1995.
But the administration has requested this enormous sum of money in a vacuum of silence about our strategic purpose and an aura of deception about the length of our commitment.
Officials perpetuate their failure of leadership with the assumption that Congress supports the Bosnia deployments simply by funding them. This assessment, however, only uncovers the cynicism of the administration's foreign policy.
Neither the House nor the Senate, as the President knows, would intentionally place our overseas forces in a position of jeopardy by depriving them of money for daily operations and self-protection.
At the same time, the Pentagon cannot continue to hold the safety of our troops hostage to unjustified budget requests for keeping between 6,000 and 8,000 military personnel in a country struggling to restore its political institutions.
The confusion underpinning U.S. policies toward Bosnia led Senator Cleland and I to draft an amendment requiring the submission of statutory reports to Congress on the purpose and potential endpoint of military contingency operations involving more than 500 people in uniform. The reports must accompany all budget requests made for such operations.
Our amendment, including in the Senate's version of the bill and approved by the authorization conferees, reflects the lessons that the Bosnia experience teaches us about the interaction between the executive and legislative branches on the Defense Department's non-wartime deployments.
Congress must insist on a regular process under which we can match the administration's own peacekeeping policy arguments with its ongoing budget demands.
We need to determine more definitively if the Pentagon has a contingency operations strategy that advances the security interests of the United States rather than the false hope of relying on our military presence to solve the domestic political, economic, and cultural problems of other nations.
The Snowe-Cleland amendment, I believe, will equip Congress with the tools necessary to exercise aggressive oversight of the administration's peacekeeping initiatives.
The fiscal year 1999 Defense authorization conference report, Mr. President, foreshadows both the challenges and the phenomenal capabilities that the Armed Forces will manage in the new century. I, therefore, urge the Senate to uphold its tradition of bipartisan support for the military by adopting this responsible legislation.
Section 2837 of the Bill ensures that the future development of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center property previously conveyed by the Army to the appropriate agency of the State of Alabama will remain consistent with the long term master plan for the use of that property as agreed upon by the Center, Redstone Arsenal, and Marshall Space Flight Center, and that present financing arrangements and mortgages relating to new and existing facilities at the Space and Rocket Center are preserved, and appropriate coordination of further financing initiatives, mortgages and other debt society arrangements in accordance with the agreed-upon master plan is assured.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, permit me to quote from the Armed Services Committee's report accompanying the Senate-passed version of the fiscal year 1999 defense authorization bill:
The Committee views with concern the slow progress of the C-130J program, the increased expense of developing the aircraft . . . and notes the Department's failure to provide a report on the remanufacture of existing C-130 airframes . . . Development costs were initially estimated at $350 million and introduction of the new model forecast to begin in mid-1997 . . . However, it has been estimated that the program has cost more than $900 million and is over two years behind schedule.
To the objective observer, this language would indicate a certain frustration or disenchantment with the developmental history of the C-130J airlifter. Indeed, cognizant as we are of the Air Force's enormous surplus of C-130s and the fact that, of the 256 such planes funded by Congress since 1978, only five were actually requested by the Air Force, one could reasonably conclude that Congress would not be in a hurry to expend scarce financial resources for additional planes. Yet, that is precisely what we continue to do, every year, to the tune of literally billions of dollars.
Let me see if I can summarize the situation. We are concerned about enormous cost overruns associated with the C-130J's development and with the degree to which that development has fallen behind schedule. The Air Force has far more C-130s than it needs. So our response is to spend hundreds of millions of dollars per year to purchase more.
Over the last two weeks, the Senate Armed Services Committee, on which I serve, has devoted considerable time and energy to the issue of military readiness. My office has only recently received the responses of the Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff to a number of questions I had submitted in an effort to ascertain to the extent possible the true state of military preparedness. Indeed, I have for the past six years spent a great deal of time tracking preparedness trends in the military in order that we might prevent the resurgence of the kind of preparedness problems that plagued our armed forces during the 1970s. I warned in the early 1990s that if we continued on our then-current path, the ability of our military to respond to crises and to prevail in the major regional contingencies for which they exist would eventually reach crisis proportions. As the train advanced down the track, those of us who did advance such warnings were categorized as Cold War anachronisms. As the train neared over the past two years, our numbers increased somewhat, but the President and many in Congress continued to ignore the growing problem. And now the train has arrived.
The United States Armed Forces are the finest in the world. No one would deny that basic fact. The quality of intellectual discourse on the subjects of force posture and military preparedness, however, has been disappointingly shallow. How often, Mr. President, have we heard critics of defense spending argue that the United States spends more on defense than the sum of its potential adversaries combined? Do such individuals honestly believe that the subject lends itself to such simplistic equations? Has history taught them nothing?
The United States military, alone in the world, is tasked by this country's civilian leadership to be prepared to respond to crises anywhere in the world, on short notice, and with sufficient strength to defeat aggression with a minimal loss of life. No other country bears that burden.
We have serious problems afflicting our armed forces that six years of presidential rhetoric to the contrary could not deny, although the Administration did its best to ignore it. So how do the committees with oversight of U.S. defense policy react to the current confluence of budgetary restrictions and historically high operational tempos? With the aforementioned C-130s, with a $1.5 billion ship not requested by the Department of Defense, with the continued acquisition of unrequested C-35 passenger jets, with the exasperatingly constant tendency to send hundreds of millions of dollars a year to National Guard units whether it is needed or not, and with the repeated acquisition of rockets and grenade launchers solely because contractors have convinced, with little effort, their congressional representatives to continue the flow of money for unneeded weapon systems. I fully support and encourage the allocation of additional funding to address legitimate readiness concerns, which we have in abundance. The programmatic and highly questionable operations and maintenance expenditures that are included in the lists I am submitting, however, do not qualify.
It has been said that a million dollars here, and a million dollars there, and pretty soon we're talking real money. The list I am submitting pretty much fits that category. It is composed of hundreds of Member-adds. They range from half-a-million dollars to $94 million, not including the ship and airlifters, which are in a category all their own. The total dollar amount of the list from the defense authorization bill is $4.5 billion.
The continued practice in the defense appropriations bill of restricting procurement of major weapon system components to United States manufacturers at the expense of more cost-effective options--and, I should point out, at the expense of other U.S. companies that benefit from the cooperative arrangements we maintain with allied countries and are consequently threatened by these `Buy America' provisions--represent a throwback to an earlier time when defense budgets allowed for such congressionally-mandated inefficiencies. Similarly, prohibitions and restrictions on the Department of Defense's ability to manage itself in order to protect hometown contractors and civil servants, such as are included in the appropriations bill are reaching ever-more multifarious levels that would make Rube Goldberg proud. I invite my colleagues to read Section 8071 of the bill for one such example.
I am also concerned about the precedent set by Section 8125 of the appropriations bill, which intervenes in the relationships between Federal agencies, prime and subcontractors. The ramifications of that effort to benefit specific subcontractors will redound to the Federal government's misfortune in complicated contractual matters involving primes that go out of business, leaving their subcontractors in the lurch. Obviously, we are all sympathetic to those subcontractors' plight, but intervening in bankruptcy proceedings like this provision does is not good government.
At a time when our declining force structure is stretched virtually to the breaking point; when our most skilled personnel are leaving the service in droves for better paying, less stressful jobs in the private sector; when front-line aircraft are routinely cannibalized so that squadrons may deploy and equipment and personnel are cross-decked to the long-term detriment of both, it is disheartening in the extreme to still witness the scale of unnecessary and wasteful spending represented in these bills.
The airplane mechanic having to remove parts from one fighter in order to repair another can be excused for not understanding why $5 million is diverted from the defense budget to the public school system in the state of a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. He or she can be excused for not comprehending the mind set that allocates $75,000 for establishment of a State Maritime Academy with no realistic military application. Five million dollars for Agricultural Based Bioremediation and $20 million for the National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence--the word `defense' being inserted in the title strictly for propagandistic purposes--and $3 million for research into stainless steel double hull technology, on which private industry is supposed to be spending its own money per the requirements of the Oil Pollution Prevention Act, are just the tip of a very large iceberg.
Try as I might, I cannot rationalize, with the scale of readiness problems highlighted in yesterday's Armed Services Committee hearing, the expenditure of $64 million for the National Guard Youth Challenge program. In fact, the budget authority earmarked for the Guard and Reserve, once again solely for parochial reasons, continues to represent one of the greatest hemorrhages of defense dollars for low-priority programs in the defense budget. Ten million dollars, Mr. President, to convert a National Guard Armory into a Chicago Military Academy in order to provide a Junior ROTC program is not consistent with national security imperatives that should be driving the process. I have no idea--no idea--why we are earmarking a million dollars for Lewis and Clark.
Earmarks for specific facilities are out of control. Whether it's the Francis S. Grabeski Airport in New York, the earmark of $2,250,000 from the Operations and Maintenance budget--yes, the very portion of the budget most closely tied to readiness--for the White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss, Texas, or the earmarking of $4.6 million for the Montana National Guard Distance Learning Network, such practices illustrate all too well the unwillingness of Congress to translate its rhetoric on readiness problems into constructive action and to cast aside once and for all the business-as-usual approach that is so damaging to our national defense.
The appropriations bill adds $50 million for the B-2 bomber for continued upgrades. The continued expenditure of millions for upgrades for that formidable fleet of 21 aircraft is particularly disturbing, as the B-2's practical utility scarcely warrants the funding Congress lavishes upon it every year. If it could fly combat air patrols, I would be inclined to be a little more sympathetic. Its' theoretical application to real world contingencies, however, leaves me aghast at the cost of that program.
Mr. President, my views on parochial-oriented spending remain very much in the minority. That is why we continue to see billions of dollars wasted by Congress to satisfy parochial interests. I will not, however, shy away from continuing to shine a spotlight on these wasteful practices. During a week in which the Joint Chiefs of Staff have testified on the myriad of readiness problems afflicting our armed forces, to ignore the scale of the problem represented in the lists I am submitting for the record would be to fail the men and women who wear the uniform of our Nation. They deserve better. It is a shame they will not receive better.
I ask unanimous consent that highlights of special interest provisions in the fiscal year 1999 Defense Authorization and Appropriations Conference Reports be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Highlights of provisions in the fiscal year 1999 defense authorization and appropriations conference reports
INCREASE PURCHASE OF C-130 J (HERCULES), FROM 1 TO 7, MARIETTA, GEORGIA
LHD (WASP CLASS) AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT SHIP, AUTHORIZATION FOR $1.5 BILLION, PASCAGOULA, MISSISSIPPI
PURCHASE C-XX, EXECUTIVE TRAVEL AIRCRAFT BUILT IN WICHITA, KANSAS AND SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
LOS ALAMOS, NEW MEXICO PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM DIVERSION FROM MILITARY READINESS
AGRICULTURAL BASED BIOREMEDIATION
STAINLESS STEEL DOUBLE HULL TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH, MISSISSIPPI
CONVERSION OF A NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY INTO A CHICAGO MILITARY ACADEMY
TESTING AND TRAINING OPERATIONS AND SUPPORT AT THE WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, NEW MEXICO AND FORT BLISS, TEXAS
B-2 BOMBER UPGRADES, CALIFORNIA AND WASHINGTON
INCREASE PURCHASE OF MK-19 GRENADE LAUNCHER FROM 697 TO 800, MAINE
VARIOUS MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS
National Guard and Reserve:
National Guard Youth Challenge Program
Montana National Guard Distance Learning Network
Civilian Technicians personnel reduction restrictions: Miscellaneous equipment
Buy America restrictions:
Mr. President, shortly, I intend to propound a unanimous consent request for the Internet Tax Freedom Act to be considered. In the meantime, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.