Opening Statement (As Prepared)
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Good Morning, and thank you Chairmen Kelly and Waltz and Ranking Member Garamendi for conducting this joint hearing to examine the Posture and Readiness of the Mobility Enterprise.  
I also want to thank the witnesses, General Van Ovost and Rear Admiral Ann Phillips, for being with us today.  I’ve had an opportunity to speak with both of you recently and I thank you for your engagement ahead of today’s hearing.

Our mobility enterprise has had a busy and challenging year, as Russia’s continued incursion into Ukraine has highlighted increased uncertainty and instability for international rules-based order and logistics.  

TRANSCOM has done a tremendous job in this effort, although as the House has failed to deliver on critical supplemental aid to Ukraine in its fight against Russia, TRANSCOM’s ability to perform the critical mission of deploying essential defensive equipment to our partners in Europe has been limited.

TRANSCOM has also played a crucial role in supporting humanitarian aid to Gaza, delivering thousands of pounds of life-saving supplies to those in need through airdrops and partners in the region for eventual ground transportation into Gaza.

I am proud that our subcommittees, working in a bipartisan way, have led the way in Congress to expand the capabilities and capacity of our mobility enterprise. In just the last few years, we have established the Tanker Security Program, National Security Multi-Mission Vessel program, and authorized a domestic new-build sealift program for ten vessels built right here in the US. In the FY24 budget that was signed by the President just a few weeks ago, thanks to the support of our subcommittee, we were able to secure 12 million dollars for MARAD to carry out the design of this new-build sealift program using the Vessel Construction Manager contracting model.

I remain concerned about the prioritization of used, foreign vessel acquisition for our sealift capacity. Without an accurate market assessment to demonstrate the availability of these vessels, how much they will cost to procure, and the cost to convert them to useful sea-going assets for our sealift fleet, this subcommittee is unable to execute its judgement when additional funds are requested.

However, I am encouraged that MARAD delivered the first ship in the NSMV program, the EMPIRE STATE, last year, and is on track to deliver the PATRIOT STATE later this year. These state-of-the-art vessels will provide increased training capacity for future mariners while serving as purpose-built platforms if called upon to respond to humanitarian and disaster response operations.

Similarly, I am encouraged by MARAD’s ability to stand-up the Tanker Security Program to provide the Department of Defense with access to US-registered tank vessels to supply our armed forces with bulk fuel delivery in times of need. The closing of Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility certainly underscores the need for this program.

While MARAD continues to finalize the last vessel in the program, I am confident in your expertise and will look for opportunities to increase the number of vessels to the authorized number of 20 in the program.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion as we develop the FY25 NDAA and look forward to our witness testimony.  

With that I yield back.