NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 1998 (House of Representatives - June 20, 1997)

Mr. LUTHER. Mr. Chairman, I want to first of all express my thanks to the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. Spence], the chairman of the committee; the gentleman from California [Mr. Dellums], the ranking member; and the gentleman from Washington [Mr. Dicks] for their consideration. Also, I want to thank the gentleman from Minnesota [Mr. Ramstad] and all of the other speakers who spoke so eloquently on behalf of this amendment.

Before we move to a vote on this issue, I would like to leave just a couple of thoughts with the Members of the House. First of all, please keep in mind that unlike the B-2 bomber, the D-5 missile is not a dual-use weapons system. There is no conventional warfare role for the D-5. Its sole utility is as a strategic nuclear weapon. If my colleagues are interested in voting to cut a weapons system that will not affect our ability to wage the conventional or regional wars that we must be prepared for, this is the system.

Second, keep in mind our experience with the Minuteman III land-based ICBM. Many of my colleagues will remember the plans in the 1980's to replace the Minuteman with the MX. We decided to scrap those plans. Today the Minuteman III serves as the backbone of our land-based leg of the triad. The C-4 missiles we are retiring are much more modern weapons than the Minuteman III's.

Under this amendment we will continue to have 18 Trident subs through the year 2001 and we will not be down to 10 subs until 2005. Until that date, the C-4 missile will continue to serve its important role in our strategic defense just like the Minuteman III.

The opponents of this amendment have made the same arguments here on the floor that have been made over the years, to run our defense budget up to the level that it is at today and to run the debt of this country up to the $5.3 trillion of debt that we have today.

I urge Members of the House to reject that approach today. A vote for this amendment will save $5.7 billion of unnecessary spending. My colleagues have made that commitment to their constituents to do away with unnecessary spending.

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And we can use that money for other more important purposes or to help balance the budget.

I thank my colleagues for their consideration.