Loretta Sanchez

KEI Funding Cut - May 6, 2004

Loretta Sanchez
May 06, 2004— Washington, DC
Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing
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Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment to direct that the $75 million in funding cuts the committee has made to the Kinetic Energy Interceptor Program includes the $10.555 million budgeted for the space-based component. I am disappointed that Mr. Ryan's amendment failed, but believe that at the very least, this committee should cut funding for the space-based platform. The space-based kinetic energy program raises a number of serious concerns. First and foremost, this program will require a significant ramp-up in spending over the next decade that our country simply cannot afford. The program contains a mere $10.555 million in funding this year for research on a space-based kinetic energy test bed. But the research is to lead to on-orbit testing in the 2010-2011 time frame and may result in a "limited experimental constellation" in 2012. Ft. Greely - where the Missile Defense Agency will be fielding its initial missile defense deployment - also started off as a "test bed." Tens of billions of dollars later, we are fielding an initial ballistic missile defense system with a host of lingering technological challenges. One can only begin to imagine the challenges associated with building a defensive capability in space. We have no reason to believe that the technology for such a system even exists. In light of the overwhelming financial burden facing our Armed Services today, it is not the time to head down this path. At the very least, this system will only drain funding from other missile defense programs that need additional research and development funds, and from enhancing critical programs that work. Furthermore, this Congress has not held sufficient debate, nor has it reached the conclusion to begin the weaponization of space. In fact, evidence points to the contrary. The Air Force came to this committee last year and requested $14 million. This committee did not fund the request. The American people have a similar opinion - In a recent poll conducted by PIPA/Knowledge Networks, 74 percent of respondents indicated that it was a good idea to enact a treaty banning all weapons in space. It is time to begin asking important questions. Would a move towards a space-based platform compel other nations to begin similar efforts? And what about the national security considerations of such a move? Would it ever be beneficial to enact a policy that could compel other countries to attempt to interfere with U.S. Space assets? Congress, especially those of us on this committee, needs to begin substantial debate on this issue. The American people deserve a missile defense system that works - not a costly experiment that shifts resources where they are not needed. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment. Again, it simply withholds funding for the space-based aspect of the kinetic energy interceptor program.