The past 8 years under the Obama administration, we saw a tremendous disrespect to our military. Obama did everything he could to undercut our brave men and women who protect us daily. Instead of Obama pushing to make our military stronger, he cut us to pre-World War II capabilities. Which is why when President Trump was elected we knew that the days of having weak leadership were far behind us.
The added bonus to a Trump presidency is that he appointed James Mattis as our Defense Secretary. Mattis knows what needs to be done to fight our enemies abroad and does not hold any punches when doing it.
Recently, Mattis spoke about the recent threats to our national security and terrorist organizations from Iran, North Korea, and Russia. However, he had some strong words for a threat a bit closer to home named Congress.
According to The Daily Beast:
“In the past, by failing to pass a budget on time or eliminate the threat of sequestration, Congress sidelined itself from its active constitutional oversight role,” Mattis said at all three of his hearings, reading from a prepared statement. “It has blocked new programs, prevented service growth, stalled industry initiative, and placed troops at greater risk.”
“Despite the tremendous efforts of this committee,” Mattis added, separately addressing the House and Senate appropriations committees and the House armed services committee, “Congress as a whole has met the present challenge with lassitude, not leadership.”
The Budget Control Act capped all federal discretionary spending—basically, all budget lines except health and retirement entitlements—through the 2021 fiscal year. The way the caps are calculated is complex. To put it simply, the government required itself to eliminate $2.4 trillion in planned spending over 10 years starting in 2011.
The caps have translated into lower budgets than the Defense Department deems necessary to pay troops, operate equipment and develop and buy new technology. Yes, the Pentagon still spends about $600 billion annually, not counting funding for frontline operations. But that number should be tens of billions higher, Mattis and other senior military officials have argued.
The shortfalls mean fewer flight hours for pilots, less training, less maintenance, and fewer new weapons. “No enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than sequestration,” Mattis said.
Congress can—and has in the past—written legislation lifting one-year spending caps. Mattis’ proposed $640 billion defense budget for 2018 is $52 billion over the sequestration limit. To pass that budget into law, Congress will need either to repeal sequestration—or pass a companion law granting the Pentagon yet another one-year partial exemption to the spending limit.
The partial exemption might be the best the Pentagon can hope for. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in May that lawmakers have “no plan” to end sequestration.
For close to a decade Congress has failed to pass a budget which has harmed our military. There is no reason that Congress can’t get off their ass and pass a budget that will work for our military. The longer that Congress refuses to get their act together the more our military suffers.
I am glad that Mattis stood up and said this to Congress and I hope that they reconsider soon. Maybe if we alert our representatives that we want this to end we will finally get some where.