1:55 PM EDT

Trent Franks, R-AZ 2nd

Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Chairman, in an age of sophisticated missile development and rampant nuclear proliferation, the United States must continue to invest its attention and resources in developing and fielding defenses to stay ahead of the ominous threat of ballistic missiles.

It is critical that the United States continue to work with our friends and allies who wish to cooperate in our mission to develop a robust ballistic missile defense against our common enemies.

The United States is currently working with NATO and negotiating with European countries about the possibility of placing a ballistic missile interceptor site in Europe. This is an example of a missile defense opportunity that could offer protection for the U.S. homeland and our European friends from a perilous threat that we share, ballistic missiles potentially carrying nuclear warheads, being launched from rogue nations such as Iran.

Mr. Chairman, incidentally, Iran is projected to have missiles capable of reaching the United States homeland within 7 years.

As it currently stands, this bill prohibits funds made available under the NATO Security Investment Program from being obligated or expended to conduct studies on missile defense. My amendment would strike this section. Mr. Chairman, in the midst of the current debate regarding the need for greater international support of missile defense, we must not arbitrarily prevent our allies from joining with us to pursue these vital and common goals.

For the sake of defending our cities and our freedom, I encourage our colleagues to support our Nation's policy to build a robust, layered ballistic missile defense; to support our allies against common threats; and to support this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

1:57 PM EDT

Chet Edwards, D-TX 17th

Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, I just want to make a few points about this amendment, and I will be glad to accept the amendment when I'm completed. Let me just make a few points that are clear, though.

Section 125 prohibits the use of funds appropriated to the NATO Security Investment Program for studies of missile defense. The history of this is that in the fiscal year 2004 Military Construction bill, it was a Republican majority that put this language into the bill which has been repeated year after year without any controversy or serious discussion. It grew out of concerns that large sums of these NATO funds were being spent on expensive studies.

I do want to emphasize and clarify that this provision relates to the studies for a NATO missile defense system that is not related to the proposal by the administration to pursue and place a missile defense site in Poland and in the Czech Republic. That is a U.S. initiative, not a NATO initiative, and I want Members to understand that distinction.

I also want to make it clear that I believe NATO Security Investment Program funds should focus primarily on building current NATO infrastructure, including critical facilities in the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Because these funds are limited, I think they should be wisely and directed to where they have the greatest impact in support of our military troops around the world.

With that being said, I will accept the gentleman's amendment.

1:58 PM EDT

Trent Franks, R-AZ 2nd

Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman.

I would only add that it is vitally important from our perspective that NATO countries be encouraged to cooperate with the things that we're doing there and some of the countries that we're working with for the European missile site. We understand that everything you said is correct. We also believe that it doesn't make sense to single out missile defense as the only study that would be prohibited under this section.

And there may come a day when we will have to apologize to the American public for putting so much emphasis on building expensive missile defense capabilities, and if that happens, I will be willing to stand here and do that, but it would be far harder for me to apologize to the American people for failing to do everything that we could on every front to protect the homeland and our European allies and our soldiers and warfighters abroad from the most dangerous offensive weapons that have ever

come upon humanity.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back my time.