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Wittman Opening Statement at Hearing on FY23 Budget Request for Seapower and Projection Forces

Washington, D.C. U.S. Representative Rob Wittman (VA-01), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing on the FY23 budget request for seapower and projection forces.
Rep. Wittman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
I want to thank Chairman Courtney for yielding and thank our three witnesses for testifying today.
I also want to thank the Biden administration for finally delivering a 30 year shipbuilding plan and a budget request.  These documents meet the tenets of the law and provides a clearer perspective on President Biden’s naval thoughts.  But let me be clear, they are also insidious, and lay bare the abject denial of President Biden’s constitutional obligation “to provide and maintain a Navy.”  It is almost as if this administration has completely forgotten that we are a maritime nation and that the entire basis of our economy, and our global norms, are based on a naval maritime capability aligned with these basic principles. 
Our founding fathers were exceedingly clear in their support of our Navy.   Unfortunately, it would appear that the Biden team is lost on supporting the vagaries of political correctness and is prepared to cede America’s position as the global defender of democracy to communist nation’s intent on subverting American ideals and economic advantages.
We need to be clear on this position of this Congress.  We need to wholly and utterly reject the administration’s request for shipbuilding and decommissioning of ships.  We need to start from scratch with meeting our founding father’s constitutional obligations. 
Let’s start with administration’s request to build 8 ships and decommission 24 vessels in fiscal year 2023.  Despite the law requiring a 355 ship Navy, the administration proposes to reduce our 298 ships immediately to 285 ships.  We don’t expand our naval capacity and capabilities by subtracting more than we add.  The budget request definitely does not support Secretary Austin’s stated intent of pacing the Chinese naval capabilities whose force is expected to exceed 460 ships by the turn of this decade, at which point our fleet will be only two third’s the size of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. 
Equally problematic is that this budget request accelerates the windows of vulnerability posited by Admirals Davidson and Aquilino. If China intends to attack Taiwan and jeopardize the future of a free and open Indo-Pacific, why would it wait for us to rebuild our seapower in the 2030s?  
Time is not on our side. We have to do better. 
As to me, I reject the administration’s anemic shipbuilding request and will seek to expand our shipbuilding plans required to meet our warfighting requirements by accelerating construction of our destroyers, frigates and auxiliary ships;
I reject the administration’s request to retire naval vessels that provide decades of service life to our fleet;
I reject the administration’s request to avoid having to maintain our naval aviation plan in step with the construction of our nation’s preeminent power projection capability, the aircraft carrier;
I reject the administration’s request to eviscerate our mine countermeasure warfighting capabilities;
I reject the administration’s request to reduce our amphibious forces by 25% that will irreparably harm our nation’s ability to support future forcible entry options;
I reject the administration’s misguided acquisition recommendations that reduce stated multiyear procurement contracts and waste significant taxpayer’s monies.
This budget request is simply unacceptable.  I hope to work with my colleagues across the aisle to fundamentally reshape our Navy and Marine Corps vision and direction.  If we fail in our endeavor, I am convinced that we need to fundamentally realign our global political posture with the Biden philosophy of retreat and withdrawal from global democratic institutions. 
We must do better.
Finally, it is time that the Navy take control of their destiny and publish a force structure assessment that is based on the realities of distributed warfare and disaggregated operations.  CNO Gilday and Commandant Berger need to strike the ability of nameless defense bureaucrats who seek to reduce our national security.  Our naval leaders need to quickly lay out a clear fleet force structure that accomplishes the goals of our nation.
Again, I appreciate the Chairman for having this important hearing and I yield back the balance of my time.