The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 7, 1997, the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. WELDON] is recognized for 60 minutes.
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania.
But, Mr. Speaker, let me kind of move into the topic that I want to focus on tonight, because from the broadest possible context it, too, deals with the jobs issue, and for those Members who may be in their offices listening to the discussion of NAFTA, perhaps there is another segment of the job loss that was not even discussed over the past hour. That relates to the 1 million union men and women who lost their jobs over the past 5 years, Mr. Speaker, as this President cut defense spending to a level that we have not seen since before World War II.
Mr. Speaker, let me shift for a moment and talk about that spending. I mentioned terrorism is one of our top priorities, and it is. Members on both sides of the aisle feel very strongly that we have to do more to protect our cities and our towns from the threat of a terrorist attack, and we are going to show some of that technology and that cooperation tomorrow. But, Mr. Speaker, one of the second biggest threats that many of us feel that we face is from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and especially the proliferation of missiles .
Mr. Speaker, if there has been one area where this Congress has disagreed more fundamentally with the President then any other area, it has been the area of missile defense. Over the past 2 years, Mr. Speaker, I have seen unprecedented votes in this body in disagreement with this President on missile defense spending. In fact, 2 years ago we plused up in our defense bill $1 billion over what the President requested in our missile defense accounts. We did the same thing last year. In the 11 years that I have been here, Mr. Speaker, I have never seen a defense bill, and I do not think we have ever had one in recent history where 301 Members of Congress voted in the affirmative, not just Republicans, but most of our Democrat colleagues, to support a defense bill that made a statement to this administration, and that statement was a very simple one. It was:
Mr. President, you are not focusing enough on the threat that is there and emerging in terms of missile proliferation, and you need to understand that.
Now, Mr. Speaker, that is an important point that I want to focus on because this President has been driving the debate nationwide that says that we do not need to focus on defense, the world is so much more safer today, There is no longer a threat to the security of the American people. While I do not want to go to the other extreme, Mr. Speaker, and create some kind of a Cold War mentality, because I think that is equally wrong, the President is doing this country a terrible disservice. One hundred forty-five times the President has made speeches where he has included the following phrase. In fact, three of those speeches were right up at the podium right in front of where you stand, Mr. Speaker. In three State of the Union speeches, our President has made this statement. Looking at the American people through national television, he said:
You can sleep well tonight because for the first time in the last 50 years there are no Russian missiles pointed at your children.
Mr. Speaker, as the Commander in Chief, the President knows he cannot prove that. We have had testimony in our House committees. In fact, the chief of Russian targeting for Russia has testified on national TV that they will not allow us to have access to their targeting processes, just as we will not allow the Russians to have access to ours. But on 145 occasions, three times from the well of this Chamber, the Commander in Chief of this country has said you can sleep well, there are no missiles pointed at our children. Yet, Mr. Speaker, he cannot verify that. He cannot prove it. And, Mr. Speaker, furthermore, if he could prove it, which he cannot, and which his generals including General Shalikashvili have said on the record he cannot prove; if he could prove it, all of our experts on the record have said that you can retarget a long-range ICBM in less than 10 seconds.
But do you see, Mr. Speaker, the point is not so much that particular issue, but when the President makes that speech 145 times, 3 times in front of a national audience, on college campuses, in front of national groups, he uses the bully pulpit to create the perception that there is no longer a threat to the American people or allies. And that is so deadly wrong, Mr. Speaker, because it drives the American people into believing that we have a false sense of security. And once again, I do not want to recreate the cold war, but I want the President to be honest in his assessment of what the threat is worldwide. And that is not an honest assessment, Mr. Speaker, at least not according to the key generals who run the Pentagon.
When the President makes that speech, he drives all of our constituents into believing that we are doing a disservice when we want to stabilize defense spending, that we are doing the American taxpayers a disservice when we want to protect programs that provide those jobs my colleagues talked about that were lost over the past 5 years. We do not want to dramatically increase defense spending; we want to stabilize it.
Mr. Speaker, there is currently a major struggle going on between this Congress and both Members of the Democrat and Republican Parties and this President over how fast and how quickly we should deploy missile defense systems. Now this administration has come out publicly, Mr. Speaker, and they said they are for theater missile defenses.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, their new projections are that we will not have a new system in place until at the earliest 2004. Let me recount the importance of this for my colleagues, Mr. Speaker. In 1991, we had the largest loss of life that this country has experienced in recent years in one military incident, when our young, brave soldiers were killed in that desert in Saudi Arabia by that low-quality Scud missile . They were killed because we had no system that could warn them or take out that one Scud missile.
When those 28 kids were killed, many of them from my home State of Pennsylvania, Congress was in a state of shock. Congress said, why do we not have a system in place? So the Congress, in a bipartisan move, passed the Missile Defense Act of 1991. Now that act was, rather simply, Mr. Speaker, it said two things: First of all, that the Defense Department shall deploy a highly effective theater missile defense system as soon as possible to protect our troops.
The second part of that act said that by the year 1996, America should deploy a national missile defense system. Well, Mr. Speaker, 1996 came and went. We are now in 1997. We are still fighting that battle even though it was the law of the land.
Let me tell you what the most recent projections are. The administration is now telling us that they will be lucky to field our first highly effective theater missile defense system in the year 2004. What that means, Mr. Speaker, is, if the administration is right, and they are now hedging on that date, that it will have taken us 13 years from the date those kids were killed in Saudi Arabia until we have a system deployed that can prevent a future killing of our kids from a low-quality Scud missile .
Now the missile defense organization, the Pentagon tells us they probably cannot even make 2004, that is probably too optimistic. Now is the threat greater today than it was in 1991? Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, it is our intelligence community that told us a few years ago not to worry, there were no emerging threats coming forward that we have to worry about, we will handle the Scud missiles that are used, we will take them out, even though we did not take out all the Iraqi launchers both during and after the invasion of Kuwait and our response to that invasion.
But let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, about some very troubling events that have occurred over the past several weeks. First of all, the media has been reporting that Iran has now deployed a version of a Russian rocket called a Katyusha rocket that has a range of around 800 to 900 kilometers, which means it could hit Israel and many of our key allies in that part of the world. That was a development that many of us were not expecting, according to what our intelligence committee told us.
Even more troubling, Mr. Speaker, are the press accounts that are coming out from Japanese sources and some United States sources that tell us that the newest missile coming out of North Korea, the No Dong missile, that we were told would not be deployed probably until the turn of the century, is now in fact either deployed or ready to be deployed by North Korea after just one test.
What does that mean, Mr. Speaker? That means every one of our 70-some-thousand kids, when I say kids I mean our troops, that are currently stationed in South Korea and Japan and in Okinawa are within the range of that missile that we know can go as far as 1,300 kilometers.
That means, Mr. Speaker, that we now have a risk either today or very shortly that we cannot defend against because we have not taken the aggressive steps that this Congress mandated to deploy a theater missile defense system quickly, and we are going to have to wait until, at the earliest, 2004 to have that highly effective system in place.
Mr. Speaker, that is the heart of the debate over defense spending in this Congress between this Congress and this administration. Now we are also concerned, Mr. Speaker, because the administration does not want to work with us on a national missile defense system. They told us last year they were pursuing a three-plus-three system, 3 years of development and 3 years to deploy a system that would protect America's mainland.
The American people and my constituents back home cannot believe and cannot imagine that America, with all of its might, has no system today that can defend our country against an accidental launch of a long-range ICBM coming from Russia or China or any other rogue nation. You said that is not true currently, we have to have that capability. And I say no.
As the chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Research and Development, I will tell you pointblank, we have no system or capability today to take out any incoming missile . Now the administration would say we do not need it, we have treaties. The ABM Treaty, Mr. Speaker, only applies to the United States and to Russia. Even though the administration is trying to expand it to include other former Russian states, it does not apply to them. So it does not apply to North Korea, to China, it does not apply to the rogue nations that are trying to get missiles that said they would use them if they had them against us; it only applies to us and Russia.
So, therefore, Mr. Speaker, we cannot rely on the ABM Treaty. We need a physical capability to defend our country. Do we need a massive system that the media has trivialized in the past that would protect our entire country. We are not talking about that. We are talking about a very limited system that could protect us perhaps against five incoming missiles, that is all.
Two years ago we pulled provisions in the defense bill to require that kind of system to be deployed by the year 2003, and the administration would not buy that. And today we are now looking at a situation we probably will not have a national missile defense capability until perhaps 2005. That is totally unacceptable, Mr. Speaker.
Why do I say it is unacceptable? Am I fearful that the Russians are going to attack us? No, I am not. I worked with Russia perhaps as much as any Member of this body, and you know that, Mr. Speaker. In fact, I will be taking a delegation of our colleagues, bipartisan delegation to Moscow in May of this year for the second time I have been there this year. It will be my 9th or 10th trip. I share the new initiative with the Russian duma. My counterpart is the deputy speaker Mr. Shokhin. I want Russia to succeed.
I am not concerned about Russia attacking us. But Mr. Speaker, as we all know, Russia is an unstable country today. Many of their military has not been paid for months. In fact, they are trying to sell off their hardware and technology. The evidence of the further reliance on their strategic weapons is such that, because their conventional military is suffering and because the Russians are fearful, they rely much more on their offensive strategic weapons than ever before in their history.
Now what does that mean? That means a higher potential for risk of an accidental launch. Is there evidence of that? Just 2 years ago, Mr. Speaker, in January, the Russians have been notified by the Norwegians that Norway was going to launch a weather rocket to do some weather monitoring. The Russians were told in advance this was going to take place. The Russians, however, are so paranoid because of their conventional force breakdown; and, so, relying on their strategic force that when this weather rocket went off from Norway, the Russian defensive alert system put the entire country on an alert that would have caused within 60 seconds an offensive response.
They admitted on the record in Moscow media and media all over the world, Boris Yeltsin admitted that it was one of the first times in recent years that the black box carried around by the President of Russia himself was activated in response to a weather rocket that they had notified the Russians they were going to launch in advance.
That meant Russia was within 60 seconds of activating that response that all of us fear would have happened one day. Would it have been deliberate? No. But those are the kinds of concerns that we have in this country.
Now there is also an attempt to sell a mobile version of Russia's most sophisticated rocket, called the SS-25, that can be hauled in the back of a trailer. They have over 400 of these launchers in Russia. How long is it going to take before one of those launchers gets in the hands of a Third World nation and then we have a threat that is not covered by the ABM Treaty that we have to be prepared to respond to?
Those are the issues that we face, Mr. Speaker, and those are the issues that dominate our defense debate this year. Over the next several weeks, we will be moving into markup of the 1998 defense authorization bill. We are being very up front with the administration, Mr. Speaker; we do not want business as usual.
Over the past 6 years, this administration has decimated the defense of our country, it has caused the loss of over a million jobs. We, in the Congress, have tried to make up for that. Each of the past 2 years, Democrats and Republicans alike joined together and plussed up $10 billion 1 year and $5 billion in the other year to put money back into programs that our service chiefs said they could not live without. That is going to be the same battle this year, Mr. Speaker.
It is not about parochial issues of weapon systems in Members' directs because 98 percent of the funds that we put in the defense addition last year and years before were items requested by other chiefs. In fact, General Shalikashvili briefed Secretary Perry last year, said to the Secretary, we need $60 billion just to buy replacement equipment for the military. We never saw that briefing in Congress.
When Secretary Perry came in and briefed us in the House and the Senate, when he had Shalikashvili sitting next to him, unable to tell what he was really thinking or said, Secretary Perry said, we could live with $40 or $45 billion.
What does that mean? That means 1 billion people have been cast out of their positions in this country all over America. But more important, it meant, Mr. Speaker, that we are jeopardizing the lives of our young soldiers.
What do I mean by that, Mr. Speaker? I can tell you, as we slip programs out, as this administration does day after day after day, we drive up the cost of those programs and we make it so that they will not be into full production for 5, 10, or 15 years down the road. That is the battle we are facing this year.
The administration wants to keep all these major programs alive. They want to build three new tactical aviation programs. They want to build the F-22, the joint strike fighter, the F18F. They want to build a new attack submarine. They want to build another aircraft carrier. They want to build the arsenal ship. They want to build the Comanche, the V-22. They want to build the battlefield master program of the 21st century. And they want to do all of this with a budget that is impossible to meet the needs of the military today.
What we are saying this year, Mr. Speaker, is you cannot do that. This President and this administration has got to say no to some programs. If they are not going to raise top-line defense numbers, if they are not going to cut into the vertical costs, if they are not going to help us get our allies to pay for the cost of our operations when we deploy our troops around the world, then they have got to cut some systems; they cannot keep treading water because we are holding companies' and workers' lives outside there thinking that some day down the road some new administration is going to rapidly increase defense spending.
That is where the debate is coming down this year. We are doing our part, Mr. Speaker. We are trying to show ways where we can use defense activities to help us in other areas. I said two of them tonight, in the environmental area and in the area of terrorism. But that is still not enough, Mr. Speaker.
We are in an impossible situation; and I would ask our colleagues, as we approach a debate on the defense bill, to understand that we are at a historical crossroads. If we are not going to find other ways to free up some money out of that 16 cents that we spent in this year's Federal tax dollar, then we have got to cut some programs and cause more people to lose their jobs or we have got to transfer more people out of the military because this administration will not address any one of the three areas that I talked about that would help us deal with this budget problem that we are facing this year. Cut the deployment rate or get our allies to pick up more of the cost of it. Cut the environmental costs or raise the top-line number.
If you do not do any of those three things, then you have no choice but to cut the troop strength, the end strength, which I know they do not want to do, or cut some big ticket programs. When you cut big ticket programs, I hope all of those AFL-CIO members out there who listened to the hour before me talk about NAFTA's impact will remember the 1 million brothers and sisters of theirs who were laid off over the past 5 years in defense plant after defense plant around this country. These were not people making 15 cents, these were people who were middle income Americans. These were UAW workers, machinist workers, IUE workers, building trades workers, all of them today who are out of a job.
The hypocrisy of this administration, Mr. Speaker, scares me. But I want to say to this administration, because Members of both parties in this Congress have been trying to tell the story of what the threat is and what we must do to meet the need that is provided to us as a threat, how we must provide the dollar commitment to our troops to fund these priorities that are identified as being critical to our military and also look for opportunities to share technology.