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

Ms. RIVERS. Mr. Chairman, in the past Members of Congress were oftentimes reluctant to propose decreases in defense spending. Those who had the temerity to suggest that we cut the spending that we do for the military or in areas of weaponry could pretty much expect to see a 30-second ad attacking their courage, their character, and their patriotism.

Things are changing here in Washington. This is a new Congress and it is a new era. No longer do we have programs that are immune from scrutiny. No longer do we not look at how we spend taxpayers' dollars. Every dollar spent must be justified.

I join the gentleman from Minnesota in supporting their proposal to strip the unnecessary and ultimately wasteful proposal within this Department of Defense budget to continue production of Trident D-5 missiles , and in doing so, to save the American taxpayer $5.7 billion. Thomas Jefferson said many, many, many years ago:

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Sound principles will not justify our taxing the industry of our fellow citizen to accumulate treasure for wars to happen we know not when and which might not ever happen but from the temptation offered by that treasure.

I think that is still true today. With this amendment, we are not hurting our capability to wage war in the future should that become necessary. Even if we choose to retire our aging vessels, we are left with 10 modern submarines equipped with 240 D-5 missiles . More appropriately we have the appropriate number left behind for testing and replacement and we will save the public $5.7 billion.

This DOD proposal is a poor use of resources. By eliminating the backfitting of the C-4 subs, we will stop what is essentially a plan to put old wine in new bottles. The C-4 subs are too old to have a lot of service life left in them and they are likely to be eliminated as has been suggested by START II. But even if we keep the C-4's, a 1992 DOD study said that the current C-4 missiles would last until 2015. This proposal in no way will do what others have suggested, that we are stripping some of our submarines of arms. The internal documents of the Department of Defense suggest that that is just not true.

I support this cut. I hope others will as well. I think they should stand up for the principle here and feel secure in their patriotism because Calvin Coolidge once said, `Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.'

This amendment is good for our country.