“China Watcher” Takes Over Senate Seapower Subcommittee In Reshuffle
Joe Gould and David B. Larter
January 19, 2019
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., is passing the Seapower Subcommittee gavel to self-described “China watcher” Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., as part of a larger reshuffle on the Senate Armed Services Committee for the new Congress.
“Today, we have the smallest Army since WWII, the smallest Navy since WWI, and the oldest and smallest Air Force ever. At the same time, we face complex threats from China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran,” Perdue said in a statement Friday to Defense News.
“A robust naval fleet is critical to deter aggression worldwide, project power, and support our allies. The Subcommittee on Seapower will provide vital oversight and support for our Navy and Marine Corps as they work to meet the increasing demand of global missions.”
Perdue’s state hosts nine military installations, including the 40-year-old Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, which is home to six Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, two guided-missile submarines and a facility that assembles the D-5 ballistic missile.
Perdue’s selection to head the Senate Seapower Subcommittee is a bicameral coup for the U.S. Navy’s submariners. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who is the presumptive head of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, has been a fierce advocate for submarine building.
Courtney’s district includes the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard where the new Columbia class — set to replace the Ohio class in 2027 — will be constructed. The two chairmen will have outsized voices in how many Columbia-class subs will be built, as well as the future role of the aging Kings Bay.
A rare Seapower chairman without a major shipbuilder in his state, and a fiscal conservative, Perdue will bring objectivity to the sub-panel and “a needed focus on more bang for the buck,” said Arnold Punaro, a retired two-star and SASC staff director under Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, now retired.
Perdue has used his experience as a businessman who lived and worked in Asia to become a voice in Congress on China issues, including trade and human rights. Perdue sits on the Senate Budget Committee and sat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until recently.
On the SASC since 2016, Perdue has grilled administration officials about Beijing’s military buildup and whether the size of America’s sub fleet can match competitors. Last year, he traveled to Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, where he touted the U.S. military’s role in securing free trade and safe shipping lanes.
“He has become a real expert on China both from an economic and military standpoint,” Punaro said of Perdue. “The U.S. military, and in particular the Navy, needs to be extremely focused on Chinese naval power and their other threats in the maritime domain.”
Wicker, the sea power panel’s chair since 2015, relinquished the gavel to become chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. He and his House counterpart, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., saw their legislation to turn the Navy’s 355-ship requirement into U.S. policy signed into law a year ago.
SASC leaders announced a new roster Thursday that mostly maintains the status quo at the top, following a wider shakeup.
For the minority, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., replaced former Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., as ranking member on the Cybersecurity Subcommittee.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., replaced former Sen. Joe Donnelly as ranking member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., replaced Heinrich as ranking member of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.
Read more in Defense News.
Full this speech at this year’s Faith & Freedom Road To Majority Conference:
Renewing America’s Commitment To Nuclear Energy
By Sen. David Perdue
Today, nuclear energy produces 20 percent of America’s electricity, but it’s increasingly sidelined in our domestic energy portfolio.
Our domestic plants are aging rapidly. Five have closed in recent years. At the start of this year, four new reactors were under construction at two plants: two in South Carolina and two in Georgia. The South Carolina project has since come to a halt because of mounting delays and regulatory hurdles.
To realize our full energy potential, we need a renewed commitment to domestic nuclear energy. It’s a win for our economy because it will create jobs and capital. On top of that, it’s an emission-free energy source that has bipartisan support. Most importantly, it’s a matter of national security. While America has faltered in its commitment to nuclear, Russia and China have been on the move.
Two years ago, Reuters reported that Rosatom – a state-owned Russian nuclear energy export agency – had 29 reactors under construction around the globe. Russia collected billions in nuclear export revenues in 2015, and last year it exported $133 billion worth of nuclear goods and services.
China’s rise is equally, if not more, concerning.
This year alone, China has announced nuclear deals with multiple African nations. Chinese firms are building reactors in Pakistan and Great Britain. China is currently building 20 reactors at an average of one new reactor every five months. That’s why U.S. Energy Information Administration has predicted China will surpass America as the world’s largest nuclear energy producer in just 15 years.
Experts and leaders on both sides of the aisle agree we cannot allow that to happen.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge recently wrote, “When other nations buy Russian and Chinese nuclear exports – as they increasingly do – Moscow and Beijing, not Washington, set the standards.”
The Center for Strategic and International Studies has said, “Without a strong commercial presence in new nuclear markets, America’s ability to influence nonproliferation policies and nuclear safety behaviors worldwide is bound to diminish.”
Former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz published a study this year calling nuclear a “key national security enabler.”
Finally, President Donald J. Trump said in June that, “we will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector.” President Trump also ordered a full review of our domestic nuclear energy policies, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recently announced a conditional loan guarantee of up to $3.7 billion for the completion of Plant Vogtle in Georgia.
We’ve got to turn this bipartisan consensus into meaningful action so that the United States can continue to be the world’s leader in nuclear energy.
The average age of our domestic plants today is 37 years. We need to bring our nuclear capabilities into the 21st Century, by bringing these two outstanding nuclear plants in Georgia online and then building other nuclear power plants.
We need to get the regulators who have caused years of delays out of the way.
We need to send a signal to the rest of the world that nuclear energy is going to continue to be a major part of our domestic energy production.
We cannot expect or trust geopolitical rivals to use their nuclear leverage in a stabilizing way. With Russia and China’s nuclear influence on the rise – not to mention the illicit activities of rogue nations like Iran and North Korea – it’s critical that we do more to invest in our own nuclear energy capabilities now.
Read more at The Hill.