He didn’t get the name James “Mad Dog” Mattis by accident. The Defense Secretary Jim Mattis barked at Congress late Monday for not repealing defense spending caps imposed under the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). Mattis said, “no enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than sequestration.”
Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee that Congress has hurt our military readiness by perpetuating resolutions to fund the Department of Defense instead of passing a full budget by September 30th, the end of the fiscal year. He said that they should have repealed sequestration.
“During nine of the past 10 years, Congress has enacted 30 separate continuing resolutions upon the Department of Defense, thus inhibiting our readiness and adaptation to new challenges,” Mattis charged in his opening remarks. “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.” The Defense Secretary asserted that continued resolutions along with sequestration, “blocked new programs, prevented service growth, stalled industry initiative and placed troops at greater risk. Despite the tremendous efforts of this committee, Congress as a whole has met the present challenge with lassitude, not leadership.”
Mattis vigorously defended President Trump’s proposed budget and said that it would get the military “back on it’s feet,” and “gets us in the right direction.” But he said that the real growth needed in the military will begin in 2019. “The real growth comes in [from fiscal years 2019 to 2023], with a program that OMB is keenly aware we need, and President Trump has highlighted to OMB. We have his support on this,” Mattis said.
Defense hawks are not pleased with the proposed budget because it falls far short of the $640 billion wanted to add troops, aircraft, and ships that will defuse what is perceived as a readiness crisis. Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said that the new budget “basically has the same number of ships and planes, [and] no change in end strength for the Army and Marines that had already been planned” under former President Obama.
On the other side, ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) was critical of the White House’s promises to build up the military without giving a plan to do so. “I don’t think it serves any particular purpose to make promises that nobody has any intention of keeping,” Smith said.
Secretary Mattis remained firmly grounded in the administration’s plan to stabilize in 2018 and expand in years 2019-2023.
What are your thoughts about the Defense Secretary’s plan for the future of defense spending?
Credit: The Hill