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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Opening Remarks at House Armed Services Committee Hearing on the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Request

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III:  Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Smith, distinguished members of the committee, thanks for the opportunity to testify in support of President Biden's proposed Fiscal Year '25 budget for the Department of Defense.  Pleased to be joined by our outstanding Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General CQ Brown and by Undersecretary Mike McCord, the department's Comptroller.

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 families -- 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.  That includes $48.1 billion for naval and ship building capabilities, $62.1 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 field advanced 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 will support our outstanding troops and their families.  That includes raising base pay and housing allowances, investing in better housing, making childcare more affordable, and funding vital work to prevent sexual assault and suicide in the military.

And third, this request will help the department further deepen our teamwork worldwide.  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 the 50 country Ukraine Defense Contact Group that I convene.

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.  It will help meet the acute threat of Putin's increasingly aggressive Russia.  It will help us tackle the persistent dangers from Iran and its proxies.  It will help us take on threats from North Korea, global terrorist organizations, and other maligned 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 abides by the mandatory caps set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, it is aligned to our strategy.  We made tough but responsible decisions that prioritize near-term readiness, the modernization of the Joint Force, and support for our troops and their families.  Our approach dials back some near-term modernization for programs not set to come online until the 2030s.

Second, we can only reach the goals of our strategy with your help.  And I'm truly grateful that Congress passed the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations in March.  And the single way that -- the single greatest way that Congress can support the department is to pass predictable, sustained, and timely appropriations.

My third and final message 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, and our security relies on American strength of purpose.  And that's why our budget request seeks to invest in American security and in America's defense industrial base.

The same is true for the recently passed national security supplemental that will support our partners in Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, and make key investments to increase submarine production.  In fact, about $50 billion of this supplemental will flow through our defense industrial base, creating good jobs -- good American jobs in more than 30 states.

So we're grateful for our partners in Congress who helped us…


REP. ROGERS: With that, Mr. Secretary, you're recognized again.

SEC. AUSTIN:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We're grateful for our partners in Congress who help us make the investments needed to strengthen America's security through both the supplemental and the president's 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.  And I deeply appreciate your support for our mission and for our troops.  And I look forward to your questions.

Thank you, sir.