Both Democrats and Republicans agree that the Budget Control Act caps are extremely damaging and as long as Congress fails to enact a solution, a variety of key national priorities will continue to suffer. I understand that finding a compromise to remove the caps has been elusive, but that does not justify the use of gimmicks to protect one part of the budget, and shortchange other portions that are vitally important to the future of our country. Even worse, this short-term work-around does not enable the Department of Defense to undertake long term planning or provide the certainty that they can count on such funding in the future. I have great respect for Chairman Thornberry, but I cannot vote for this bill under these circumstances.
The National Defense Authorization Act has never been perfect. And it will never be perfect. What matters most is that, on balance, this bill represents a commitment to our national security, and to the individuals who we ask to stand watch and execute the missions necessary to ensure our security. In today’s dangerous and unpredictable world, we must ensure that our military has the resources and tools that it needs to meet the threats of today as well as tomorrow.
However, that is just one piece of the puzzle. Maintaining our national security requires more than a strong military. If we do not have a strong economy, and build a solid foundation for future generations, then we cannot ensure our national security in the long term. If we stop investing in the American people, then we are undermining our national security and cutting short the promise of America. Unfortunately, the National Defense Authorization Act sends the message that we are only willing to fulfill half of that promise.
The White House has also made it clear that they will veto this bill as well as other appropriations bills that reflect a similar approach. Congress is wasting time with this dead-end approach. In the coming months, it is my hope that the House, Senate and President can come together and strike a compromise to remove the budget caps and move forward with a responsible approaching to budgeting.