“We Simply Do Not Have the Workforce, Supply Chain, or Infrastructure Necessary to Meet the Coming Threats.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this week, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) questioned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about the administration’s national security supplemental funding request and spoke about the urgent need to replenish U.S. weapon stockpiles and boost domestic munitions production.

In her remarks, Senator Fischer highlighted a recent report from the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, which found that the nation’s current strategic posture is not sufficient to effectively deter America’s two peer nuclear competitors: China and Russia.

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Following is a transcript of Senator Fischer’s remarks:

Thank you, Madam Chairman. While I appreciate Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken testifying today, I will echo my colleagues’ sentiment and say that I'm disappointed Secretary Mayorkas is not here. However, I am very, very pleased to hear that he will be before this committee next week, because there is a national security crisis at our southern border. And this administration must make serious policy changes to address the crisis. I look forward to hearing from Secretary Mayorkas on how the administration intends to address that crisis.

Twenty-four days ago, Israel suffered the worst terrorist attack in its history. Israel has the right and the responsibility to respond to these barbaric attacks. We can best help them by giving them the time and resources they need to eliminate Hamas. The atrocities committed by Hamas demand nothing less. 

The administration's request included over $14 billion for Israel, including $5.2 billion to replenish their Iron Dome and David's Sling systems, and accelerate development of their Iron Beam system, and $3.5 billion in foreign military financing. 

I strongly support the full inclusion of this request in the supplemental funding bill that this committee will draft. The administration has also requested significant funding for Ukraine. I would note that, while many of our allies and partners are capable of providing generous humanitarian and economic assistance packages, only the United States can provide Ukraine with lethal aid at the scale that it needs. That is where we should focus our efforts as a country.

But we can only continue to provide lethal aid if we aggressively expand our munitions production capacity, and we do that here at home. And that's a point that's being lost by many. A significant portion of the funding request is to replenish and build out U.S. capacity.

The United States faces threats from around the world, from Russia, China, Iran. Earlier this month, the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States released its final report on America's strategic posture. The report, unanimously endorsed by the commissioners, found that we will soon face a security situation that, "the United States did not anticipate and for which it is not prepared."

I'm working with my colleagues to turn many of the commission's recommendations into law. But, fundamentally, we simply do not have the workforce, supply chain, or infrastructure necessary to meet the coming threats. Building out this capacity, it’s going to take time and resources. But we can start now by making targeted investments in our munitions production base. 

The administration's supplemental request includes over $18 billion to replenish our own weapons stockpiles and over $4.6 billion to expand production capacity for those critical munitions. This is a step in the right direction, and I will support its inclusion in the supplemental funding bill.

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