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GOP Budget Prevents Dangerous Cuts to Defense

March 21, 2012

Remarks delivered in House Budget Committee Mark-up Meeting:

Normally on our side of the aisle, we're very critical of the president for spending too much. The one area in this budget where, in our view, he spends too little, is actually defending the country over the next decade. Under the president's budget, we'll reduce what this committee projected last year on Defense by $500 billion.

It's easy to talk about that just in terms of dollars and cents, but I think you ought to convert it into what it really means: less manpower, less capability. We'll actually reduce the number of soldiers we have by 72,000 in the next five years. We'll reduce the number of Marines we have by 20,000 in the next five years. We'll retire over 200 aircraft permanently next year; over a five-year period, we'll reduce the number of tactical fighter wings we have from 61 down to 54. At the end of the budget window, we'll actually have 25 fewer combat ships than we projected having. That in a time that's very dangerous.

In addition to that, these cuts will be compounded unless we responsibly deal with the sequester. Now the president agrees with us that sequester is a bad idea, and just to give you an order of magnitude: if that were to happen on top of what the president has proposed in his budget, you could just eliminate another 100,000 soldiers in the United States Army. Those are the projections of the American military. So dealing with sequester is an extraordinarily important thing for the defense of the country.

The president, to be fair, decries sequester, doesn't want it to happen. But in his budget, it's actually presented that there's no way to avert sequester.

The Republican budget does that and does it in a responsible way. In fact, this budget does what the Supercommittee should have done and looks at long-term entitlement spending, makes appropriate adjustments there but maintains our defense capability in the mean time. In addition, the budget restores $200 billion of the $500 billion that the president proposed to cut from Defense. And we trust our colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee, on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to work with the American military, work with the administration as to how best use those additional resources. Yet at the end of that process it's worth noting, we still make a tremendous contribution to deficit reduction and Defense. This committee will spend $300 billion less in a 10-year period than we projected we would spend only a year ago. So it's not as if Defense is somehow escaping the budget imperative that we're all dealing with. It's just making a responsible contribution.

History has taught us that when it comes to defense, first place is the only safe place. This budget preserves our ability to defend ourselves, work with and defend our allies -- and nothing, my colleagues, is more expensive than war. War brought on by weakness is the most dangerous war of all. So I want to commend my colleagues on the Budget Committee and the chairman for acting in a very responsible way dealing with the fiscal challenge we have but understanding that, at the end of the day, government's primary obligation is to defend its people and we're able to do that under this budget.