Chairman Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 4365 and H.R. 1435

As prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon. In America, we understand that freedom is not guaranteed. A strong national defense is not a mere option—but a constitutional duty. It’s an imperative that has been secured by the collective sacrifice of those part of the armed forces generation after generation.

From Valley Forge and the fields of Gettysburg—to the shores of Tripoli and the sands of Iwo Jima—our troops have faithfully put service above self. Whenever called, our military is there to meet their mission.

Today, Congress must do the same. H.R. 4365, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2024, is not just a bill—it provides the foundation our men and women in uniform need to protect our citizens and win any fight.

This appropriations measure delivers full funding for our defenders. It provides 826 billion dollars in new discretionary spending, which is nearly 300 million dollars over the President’s budget request and nearly 27 billion – or 3.6 percent – over the FY 2023 enacted level.

These investments are targeted and support critical priorities. It provides a 5.2 percent pay raise for our servicemembers, helping to offset the effects of the inflationary crisis caused by President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ reckless spending policies. It makes historic investments in the Pacific region, ensuring our military is ready and able to counter aggression from bad actors like Communist China and North Korea. It ensures continued expansion of the Navy in order to preserve the freedom of the seas and funds the development and acquisition of next-generation weapons systems.

Further, it keeps the Department of Defense’s focus on protecting our homeland by rejecting the Biden Administration’s attempts to insert progressive ideology where it doesn’t belong. The Pentagon should be laser focused on military readiness and preparedness, not divisive “woke”-ism. 

America is a beacon of freedom thanks to the dedication of our heroes. Well over two million Americans currently serve their country in uniform, either on active duty or in reserve. My district in southwest Oklahoma is not only home to tens of thousands of veterans, but also to thousands of active servicemembers stationed at Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill. I’m grateful to each and every one of them for their service to this great nation, and I can think of no better tribute than to give them the funding and resources needed to continue their service toward the common defense of America. H.R. 4365 accomplishes that goal.

We must always ensure our military remains a ready, capable, and lethal fighting force. I’m proud to work to advance this measure that will protect American lives and interests—and support a stronger, safer, and freer world.

Today’s hearing also covers a second measure, H.R. 1435, the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act. Last year, the state of California announced its intention to ban gasoline-powered cars by 2035. As of today, eight states have followed suit, with others poised to do so in the near future. These bans will substantially increase costs and put personal vehicles out of reach for many hardworking people. Americans can make consumer choices based on their merits and needs—not radical mandates rooted in trying to force Green New Deal directives on families.

Electric vehicles have their place, but it should be up to individuals to decide whether or not they want to purchase one, not up to petty bureaucrats in Washington or Sacramento. That is why the House is taking up H.R. 1435, which will prevent states from enacting misguided bans like these. If you want to buy an electric vehicle and have the means to do so, you should be able to. The same holds for gasoline-powered cars, like the ones currently owned by the vast majority of Americans. H.R. 1435 ensures that this freedom, the freedom to choose, will remain intact now and into the future.


Sep 12, 2023