Our military is stronger than it was two years ago and it’s thanks to work like this to rebuild after nearly a decade of cuts. More on that at Better.gop.
This week the House passed the conference report for the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act.
But authorization is just one step in this process. The Senate needs to pass defense appropriations to ensure our servicemen and women have the resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.
Here’s what House Republicans are saying:
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) in The Hill: Congress must provide for the common defense
As our nation faces an increasingly dangerous and volatile world, it is imperative that our troops have the most up-to-date equipment and cutting-edge technology they need to carry out their critical missions that keep us safe. As the technological abilities of our enemies expand exponentially, Congress must provide the tools our men and women in uniform need to meet these challenges. Thankfully, this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, focuses on rebuilding our military and reinvesting in our national defense so America can remain the land of the free.
Years of reduced funding, sequestration, and the threat of Base Relocations and Closures have decimated our military and hampered our readiness and capabilities as threats arise. It is time for Congress to act. I am grateful Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and the House Armed Services Committees have carefully crafted legislation making defense reform the highest priority. With this year’s NDAA, we have a pivotal opportunity to return to the days of a strong, capable defense, and we must take advantage of it.
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC)
“Mr. Speaker, one of the greatest honors of my life is representing Fort Bragg, the epicenter of the universe and home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces. The units stationed here represent the best of the best and have a vast footprint. As our nation continues to fight terrorism around the world while simultaneously preparing for the threats of near-peer adversaries, our requirements increase and diversify. For too long, we have asked our military to do more with less.
“Now, we have made great progress with our fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2019 DOD appropriations, but every time we fail to pass a Defense Appropriations bill on time, we do irreparable harm to our Nation’s military. This is especially apparent in our special operations community. The men and women at USSOCOM cannot afford another year of CRs. Their missions require an advanced level of training and preparation as they operate in some of the most austere conditions in the world.
“When USSOCOM is not funded on time, training cannot be conducted, essential equipment cannot be ordered, and long-term responsibilities are not met. The effects of 9 years of continuing resolutions have severely undermined our forces and led to a waste of taxpayer dollars as we flood the Department of Defense with cash near the end of the fiscal year and force them to spend it all within a matter of a few months. We must never underestimate the most important asset our military has, and that is the individual. Green Berets cannot be built overnight. We cannot flip a switch and magically produce Navy SEALs or Air Force combat controllers or Marine Raiders. The elite units of USSOCOM are built over multiple years and cannot be stopped and started.
“This resolution would affirm our commitment to stand behind each and every one of these incredible servicemembers and their families. Make no mistake, when this body chooses not to appropriately fund these warriors, we are putting their lives at greater risk. I refuse to go home and look in the eye of a Gold Star wife of a Green Beret and say: ‘Sorry, your husband didn’t get the training he needed, because we were too busy playing games in Washington.’ That, Mr. Speaker, is unacceptable.
“The time is now for us to come together as a Nation and fund our military. I urge every one of my colleagues to recognize what is at stake and put the needs of our Nation before politics. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Representative CHENEY for her efforts on these issues, as well as Chairman THORNBERRY and Chairwoman GRANGER for their unwavering support and commitment to our military and our special operators.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY)
“These resolutions of support are crucially important, but we have, in this House, completed our work. We have completed our work on the Defense Appropriations bill. Last year, the Senate also completed its work, and we were able to take the very first crucially important steps to begin to rebuild our military with the $700 billion we were able to appropriate for fiscal year 2018. We have also done our work for this fiscal year, and we will be in a position, hopefully in the next day or so, to be able to pass the National Defense Authorization Act as well for fiscal year 2019.
“So we in this House understand how crucially important it is that we get the work done, that we pass this legislation. We need the Senate to do the same. We also, I think, need to recognize we have fundamental disagreements and disputes about the impact of the tax cuts we passed. In fact, on this side of the aisle, we believe that allowing Americans to keep more of their money is really the secret to getting the kind of economic growth we need to fundamentally deal with the deficit, that the answer is not to raise people’s taxes to have more money coming into the Treasury.
“We need to actually let people keep more of what they have got. We need to let people invest more of their own money. We have seen jobs come back, and we have seen economic growth come back. We have seen people at all income levels able to keep more money, and they see the difference in their paychecks. So we are very proud of that, and we do not believe that we should ever be in a situation where we think that somehow we have to choose expensive domestic spending if we want to fund the military.
“I agree with my colleague’s views on sequestration. Sequestration was extremely damaging. The Budget Control Act is damaging, and we ought to be in a position where we are repealing that as well. So I am pleased that there will be support for this resolution on behalf of our Special Operations Forces.
“Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank very much my friend and colleague from North Carolina for introducing this important bill highlighting the crucial role our special operators play. Mr. Speaker, they, more than any other segment of our forces, operate in secret and undertake missions that keep us safe and that serve to protect and defend us. We will not ever know most of the stories of the service that they carry out for all of us. They really are the watchmen on the walls of freedom. They stand guard for all of us day and night, undertaking missions that are incredibly complex, incredibly dangerous. And too often, they pay the ultimate sacrifice, but they are willing to do that for our freedom.
“It is crucially important, Mr. Speaker, that we don’t in this House and in this Congress continue to force them and all of our men and women in uniform to pay the price for our dysfunction, and that is a price that comes with funding delays and uncertainty.”
Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX)
“Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more important than the safety of the American people and the security of our country. To do this, it is real simple. We have to have a strong military. To do that, we would need to include a strong Air Force. For the past 70 years, our Air Force has ensured that America’s military prowess is unmatched in the skies, protecting our people, our allies, and our interests around the world. I am honored to have Dyess Air Force Base in my backyard, the largest B–1 bomber base in this country, and I am proud to represent the brave airmen of the 7th Bomb Wing and the 317th Airlift Group, and all those in the Key City and in the Big Country area who support them. I know that these men and women, along with all of our men and women in the armed services around the world, are doing all they can every day for our nation’s defense, and we as Congress ought to do all we can to support them.
“I think it is a moral imperative to ensure that our sons and daughters, that our brothers and sisters who we ask to risk their families, to risk their very lives, I think we should, at a minimum, make sure they have the tools and resources necessary to be safe and successful. But recently, because of our continued reliance on temporary funding measures known as CRs, or continuing resolutions, and the budget uncertainty and disruption that those create, we have hurt the Air Force’s readiness and our combat capabilities. We have failed, it is hard to believe, for almost 10 years in a row to fund our military on time. Temporary spending measures, coupled with continual defense cuts—I think it is about $200 billion over the last decade—often delay procurement of important assets. Every contract, whether it is to buy a plane, repair a plane, fuel a plane, or arm a plane, is adversely affected by this funding start and stop. But I think we could put it another way.
“This broken funding process, or budget and appropriations process that I have been describing, weakens our defense and plays directly into the hands of our adversaries. b 1515 Throughout our Nation’s history, our airmen and airwomen have always answered the call of duty. They should not pay the price because Congress has failed to fulfill our duty, which is to fully fund our military and to do it on time. That is going to send the right message to our troops. That will affirm our support for our troops. And I think it sends the right message to our enemies as well, just as importantly. Congress, though, has continued to fail to do this, and it has caused significant damage to our entire defense community, including the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force has a 70-year history. This is the smallest and oldest Air Force—the smallest and oldest—we have ever had.
“The Heritage Foundation’s ‘2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength’ rates our Air Force readiness as being merely marginal. With marginal processes, marginal inputs and resources, you get marginal results. I think both sides of the aisle, my colleagues and my Democrat colleagues, would agree that our troops deserve better than marginal support. More than a quarter of our fighter pilot positions are unfilled, and there is a 10 percent gap between the pilots that the Air Force has and what they need to crew their aircraft, a gap that the Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said could ‘break the force.’ That is from our Secretary of the Air Force.
“Last year, almost one-third of the Air Force’s planes were not flyable, and the average age of our aircraft is almost 30 years old. Here is the worst part: Not only are we compromising our capabilities, but aviation accidents, including fatal accidents, are on the rise. We now have four times as many service members dying in training-related accidents than in combat. Mr. Speaker, by June of this year, we already matched the number of non-combat crashes in the Air Force than we had all last year. Between the years 2013 and 2017, we had 133 military accidents leading to deaths. That is a 40 percent increase over that timeframe.
“While our nation’s Air Force fleet continues to diminish in size and effectiveness, our adversaries, like China, are modernizing and expanding. The way I think of it, Mr. Speaker, is with respect to our investment in national security and our military strength. We are retreating while some of our adversaries are advancing. That is scary, and that is unacceptable. As President Reagan said, weakness invites aggression. He also said that peace is achieved through American strength.
“Our first President said that our military readiness is ‘the most effectual means of preserving peace.’ If we don’t reverse this trend, we as a Nation will leave ourselves vulnerable at a time of escalating threats and increasing instability around the world. That is why we need to give the Air Force the quantity and the certainty of resources that match the caliber of our airmen and their enormous commitment of that sacred duty of protecting our fellow Americans. If we do this, our Air Force can continue safeguarding the skies, remaining the greatest fighting force in the world. Mr. Speaker, America is still the leader of the free world, and the world is safer when America leads and when America’s military is strong. The world is counting on us. The American people and our allies are counting on us. Most importantly, our brothers and sisters in uniform are counting on us. Politicians too often make the important seem insignificant and the insignificant important. There is nothing more important for the American people and the future of this Republic than what we are talking about here today. Let’s be leaders. Let’s do the right thing, and let’s support our troops.”
Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK)
“Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Wyoming for her important leadership in the strengthening of our military and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that I work with well on the Armed Services Committee. Mr. Speaker, nothing is too good for the troops, and nothing is what they get—at least on time, year after year, by this Congress. Our lack of diligence and commitment to provide timely funds in Congress erodes military readiness and weakens our nation. H. Res. 1007 helps fix that for the United States Army.
“For me, these are not academic or political issues but, rather, experiential. Having served as a combat infantryman in more than two decades of uniformed service prior to coming to Congress, these are not issues that I take lightly. I have lived the hardships created when Congress is derelict in its duty. When supply transactions are delayed, the Army is forced to order parts outside the Department of Defense supply system, pay for more parts, and risk getting any spare parts at all.
“Soldiers are severely hampered in their training, being forced to stay at home stations with limitations on equipment, fuel, and ammunition. Consequently, the readiness of units diminishes, and their morale flags. Even if the Army were to somehow make the best of those circumstances and attempt to send their warriors to school in the time that is created because they can’t train to maybe increase their vital skills, they can’t. Their funds are delayed, so their schools get canceled, and the time is gone forever. Adding insult to injury, many people who were promised schools to make important promotions have those schools taken from their grasp, and, disillusioned, they exit the force, affecting recruitment and the trained warriors who had invested years up to that point.
“Another insult to injury is the relocation of families. It gets postponed, and it causes undue family hardship on those in uniform, missed school for their children, and stresses on the warrior at home which not only affect his performance, but what is sad is that it was all preventable, while we in this Congress who are responsible for this and the timely delivery of funds fly home to our families weekend after weekend without interruption.
“Our founding documents state that we should promote the general welfare and provide for the common defense. Both sides of the aisle need to be mindful that these founding documents do not say provide the general welfare and promote, somehow, the common defense. If we cannot defend the Republic, all of these other things are simply not going to matter. Our lack of diligence in Congress creates reduced readiness, a less capable military, cancellation of training, untold family hardships, and a less secure nation. It is so easily solved. We simply do the work, sign the bills, and get them to the President by October 1. It is pretty simple, and it is extraordinarily important.
“Today is the 25th of July. There is plenty of time. The question that I and warriors who still serve in uniform ask is: Will this Congress have the heart and the guts to do what is right? The clock ticks. Let’s stop the madness. Let’s stop the debate of ancillary things that don’t have anything to do with providing for the common defense, and let’s end the continuing resolutions that affect our military funding. Run a clean defense measure. If we are in so much agreement about funding our military, then my challenge to both sides of the aisle is let’s run a clean measure.
“Let’s not attach anything else to it, no Labor-H, no other appropriations measures, a simple, clean measure that we all agree to anyway and we pass year after year. Then we can get it to the President’s desk, and our warriors who give us our freedom and allow us to continue with this great Republic for generation to generation will have what they need. We have not done it in years. This could be a first and could be a hallmark of the 115th Congress.”