Ranking Member Seth Moulton

Opening Statement (As Prepared)

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Thank you, Chairman Lamborn. First, I would like to extend my gratitude to you and members on both sides of the aisle for continuing the long tradition of keeping this subcommittee mark bipartisan, and addressing areas that we have discussed in the past three months of hearings and briefings. Every day you can read the headlines, and the jurisdiction of this subcommittee is front and center; whether it be on the criminal war waged by war criminal Vladimir Putin in Ukraine, to quote my friend from South Carolina, and his threats of nuclear war; the increased long-range ballistic missile testing being conducted by North Korea; or dramatic and unprecedented expansion of China’s intercontinental ballistic missile fleet, not to mention their weaponization of space. This subcommittee has in its jurisdiction some of the most technical, complex, and consequential issues of any committee in Congress.


While I firmly believe this world would be a better, safer place for our children without nuclear weapons—a view shared by many of us with backgrounds in physics who understand the sobering statistical realities of the universe—the reality is that our nuclear deterrent is a key component of strategic stability so long as we have determined adversaries unwilling to engage in serious discussions of arms reduction. Despite what some have tried to argue on this subcommittee, without the support of a single witness who has appeared before us, our nuclear deterrent remains a credible and stabilizing force. One example of proof is the fact that over a year into the war in Ukraine, despite Putin’s huge losses and persistent threats, the conflict has remained conventional. Given the aging weapons and infrastructure across the nuclear weapons complex, this mark begins to address delays to programs, including Sentinel and W80-4, by increasing oversight and requiring the Department and NNSA conduct more rigorous program management to ensure that our nuclear forces remain safe, secure, and reliable to provide the most credible deterrent in the world.


While we have much work to do to maintain our nuclear deterrent into the future, the space domain is evolving at a far faster pace. For decades, space was essentially a peaceful domain, reserved for monitoring, communicating, and exploring. But no more. In just the past several months, we have seen unprecedented demonstrations of both Russian and Chinese capabilities that are specifically designed to degrade and destroy U.S. space assets.  To employ a more robust and resilient architecture, this mark continues to press the Department to leverage commercial capability when available, and improve its sharing of threat data with commercial companies that provide services to the DOD. It also continues to emphasize the fact that the Department needs to have a coherent, unclassified strategy when it comes to Space, in order to explain the threats and the stakes to the American people, which has long been a position of this subcommittee and Congress.


Across missile defense and hypersonics, the mark largely maintains the status quo for our existing systems. In these areas, I have serious concerns about how our decisions, actions, and statements are perceived to avoid a future arms race, or worse, a miscalculation that could have catastrophic effects. As we move forward to the Chairman’s mark, we must take a critical eye to changes that seem sensible in the short run but could precipitate an arms race in the long run if we are not careful, and I encourage everyone on the subcommittee to find a critical eye for the full committee markup. That is our job.


Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to give a sincere thanks to our subcommittee staff: Ryan Tully, Whitney Verett, Peter Schirtzinger, Maria Vastola, and Zach Calderon. And to my personal staff, Caroline Jones and our Navy fellow Kurt Shulkitas.


This mark is a result of the months-long bipartisan process to keep our long-standing tradition of producing an annual defense authorization bill, and it largely represents consistency and continuity. I urge my colleagues to support it as we move forward with the process of passing this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.