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Sec. Austin's Opening Remarks of SASC Budget Posture Hearing

Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing: Department of Defense Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2025 And The Future Years Defense Program

SEC. AUSTIN:  Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Wicker, distinguished members of the committee, thanks for the opportunity to testify in support of President Biden's proposed fiscal year 2025 budget request for the Department of Defense.

I'm pleased to be joined for the first time by our outstanding Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General C.Q. Brown. And I'm also glad to be back with Under Secretary of Defense, Mike McCord...


REED:  The committee will be in order. Secretary Austin.

AUSTIN:  Let me start by thanking this committee for all that you do to support the U.S. military, our troops, and our military families.

As Secretary, I've always been guided by three priorities, defending our nation, taking care of our people, and succeeding through teamwork.

Our budget request for fiscal year 2025 will advance all three of these priorities.

First, the President's request will invest in cutting-edge capabilities across all domains, and that includes $48.1 billion for naval and shipbuilding capabilities to strengthen and modernize our fleet. And $61.2 billion to reinforce U.S. air dominance. And $13 billion to bolster Army and Marine Corps combat capabilities.

Our request will also provide $33.7 billion to strengthen our space architecture, and $14.5 billion to develop and feel cybersecurity tools. It will direct $49.2 billion to modernize and recapitalize all three legs of our nuclear triad, and it will sharpen our tech edge.

Through a $167.5 billion investment in procurement, and $143.2 billion in R&D.

Second, this budget request will support our outstanding troops and their families. And that includes raising base pay and housing allowances, investing in better housing, and making child care more accessible and more affordable. The request will also fund vital work to prevent sexual assault and suicide in the military.

And third, this request will help the department further deepen our teamwork around the globe.

Our network of allies and partners remains a strategic advantage that no competitor can match. And you can see its power in our strengthening ties across the Indo-Pacific.

In today's expanded and united NATO and in a 50-country Ukraine defense contact group that I convene to ensure that Ukraine can repel Putin's aggression.

Our budget remains rooted in our 2022 National Defense Strategy. Our request positions the United States to tackle the department's pacing challenge, the People's Republic of China, with confidence and urgency.

We'll also provide resources to meet the acute threat of Putin's increasingly aggressive Russia.

It will help us tackle the persistent dangers from Iran, North Korea, and global terrorist organizations and other malign actors.

And it will help us continue to deter aggression against the United States and our allies and partners and to prevail in conflict if necessary.

Now, today, I want to underscore three key messages. First, even as our budget request...


REED:  Mr. Secretary, you're recognized, sir. Your remarks.

AUSTIN:  Thank you, Chairman. Again, I want to underscore three key messages. First, even as our budget request abides by the mandatory caps set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, it is aligned to our strategy.

We made tough but responsible decisions in this budget that prioritize near-term readiness, modernization of the force, and support our tremendous troops and their families.

Our approach dials back some near-term modernization for programs that not set to come online until the 2030s, which will require top-line growth and on-time appropriations in future budgets.

Second, we can only fully reach the goals of our strategy with your help.

I'm grateful that Congress passed the fiscal year 2024 appropriations in March, and single greatest way that Congress can continue to support the Department of Defense is to pass predictable, sustained, and timely appropriations.

My third and final message today is that the price of U.S. leadership is real, but it is far lower than the price of U.S. abdication.

As the President has said, we are in a global struggle between democracy and autocracy. Our security in these turbulent times relies on Americans' strength of purpose.

We remain determined to meet this moment. And that's why our budget request seeks to invest in American security and in America's defense industrial base.

It's also why the administration has requested nearly $60 billion in the National Security Supplemental for the Department of Defense.

And that supplemental would support our partners in Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan while making investments to increase submarine production.

About $50 billion of this supplemental would flow through our industrial base, rushing aid to our partners while creating good American jobs in more than 30 states.

I'd like to thank all those who have worked to pass an effective funding package. And now we are more than two years into the Kremlin's war of aggression against Ukraine.

And Putin is betting that the United States will falter and abandon our friends and leave Ukraine in mortal danger. If the Kremlin prevails in Ukraine, it would embolden would-be aggressors around the globe. The United States would be far less secure if Putin got his way in Ukraine.

And President Biden has warned that Putin will not stop at Ukraine. If America walked away, we would put the free world in peril and risk unimaginable cost and dangers.

And we know that China and others are watching and learning from what Putin does and how we respond. We look to our partners in Congress to help us make the investments needed to strengthen America's security through both the supplemental and the President's fiscal year 2025 budget request.

The U.S. military is the most lethal fighting force on Earth. And with your help, we're going to keep it that way.

I'm grateful for your support, for our mission and for our troops.

And with that, I look forward to taking your questions. Thank you, Chairman.

**Editors note: Protestor disruptions were removed from the above text.