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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, delivered the following opening statement at the full committee markup for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. The Subcommittee’s mark is available here.
Rep. Wittman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
I appreciate the Chairman for yielding. 
When the committee received the Biden budget request this year, the projected size of our Navy fleet was particularly troubling.  While proposing to build 8 ships and retiring 24, the budget request asked us to continue the “divest to invest” strategy at the exact time that we see a significant inflection point in our competition with China.  All things we do today must be measured by their ability to compete with China as the pacing challenge in the priority theater—and by how well we prepare our own forces to contend with a peer adversary.
I support Chairman Courtney’s mark that restores some of the most important naval vessels proposed for retirement.  But we must also firmly commit to expanding our Navy and engaging with our partners and allies to confront the growing challenges of this century.  There will be an amendment offered later today that seeks to expand the size of the Navy fleet and directly confronts the threats posed by China and their rapid naval expansion.  I am particularly supportive of this topline amendment expansion and the obvious advantages it provides to the Navy and to our national defense, rectifying many of the wrongs created by the Biden administration’s FY23 budget request.  
This year, we were charged with not only investing in the national defense, but also addressing the impact of record high-inflation. As such, Mr. Chairman, I request this letter from the Aerospace Industries Association and their support for 3 to 5 percent growth above inflation be inserted into the record. 
I also continue to support General Berger’s overall vision and his desire to retain a capable amphibious force structure.  This mark sets a amphibious ship floor–protecting the forcible entry capabilities of our Marine Corps–and seeks to accelerate the light amphibious warship as key elements of the Commandant’s Planning Guidance.
Finally, we continue to make great progress with our strategic forces and ability to project power globally.  The B-21 bomber program is on track to deliver the right capability at the right time.  I continue to support this deep penetrating bomber capability and am particularly pleased with the Air Force’s active management of this program and our chosen industry partner. 
In closing, I want to thank Chairman Courtney and his leadership in navigating through these tumultuous times.  He is the right leader and the right time and am glad to call him my Chairman. 
This is a good mark.  I urge my colleagues to support this mark and the eventual topline amendment that provides the needed capabilities to address a revisionist pacing threat.
With that, I yield the balance of my time.

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