On Monday, politicians on both sides of the aisle came to an agreement to stave off a potential government shutdown that allocated more than a trillion dollars to funding federal programs through the remainder of 2017. Included in that sum is a $21 billion funding increase for defense; a sum that can hopefully help right the course of the massive U.S. military that has suffered a serious lack of maintenance since the 2013 sequester.
President Trump called this agreement a “clear win” for the American people after “years of partisan bickering,” while delivering remarks at a ceremony celebrating the Air Force football team’s victory over teams fielded by the Army and Navy.
This is what winning looks like, something you folks really know about,” Mr. Trump joked to members of the football team.
In our new budget and it’s been a very hotly contested budget — we have to go through a long and rigorous process, but we’ve ended years of painful cuts to our military and just achieved a 21 billion dollar increase in defense spending,” the president said.
Not only did we achieve this massive and badly-needed increase in defense, but we did so without having to put in place an equal increase in non-defense spending, breaking the so-called ‘parity rule’ that was breaking our budget and degrading our military and that’s not happening anymore,” added Trump.
Defense officials have repeatedly called for an increase in defense spending in recent years, as continued anti-terrorism combat operations around the globe have degraded the American military’s ability to counter threats from larger, more powerful threats such as those presented by China or Russia. Budget constraints have caused high-value equipment to come out of service, such as nuclear submarines, and have compromised America’s defensive stance when dealing with near-pear level adversaries.
Defense Secretary James Mattis issued the following statement regarding the spending increase that finally received approval:
I am pleased that the Congress has secured a $21 billion increase in funding for our defense. This is an important step toward rebuilding military readiness at a time when we are confronting serious security challenges throughout the globe. These additional funds will accelerate the campaign to defeat ISIS, support ongoing operations in Afghanistan and address critical budget shortfalls. Everything from new missiles and ammunition, to facility upgrades, to new aircraft are being funded by this bill.
By focusing on military spending, this budget agreement reaffirms the president’s commitment to responsibly fund defense.
As I said upon assuming this office, every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. This budget agreement helps us do just that. Our troops deserve the resources necessary to defend the United States and our interests around the world.”
Some defense experts have warned that even with this much-needed infusion of cash, the American military machine may still be lacking the resources it needs to counter serious threats from state-level opponents, as opposed to the terrorist groups American forces have become accustomed to fighting. President Trump has made it clear that he intends to increase defense spending for fiscal year 2018 as well, as part of an effort to curb such concerns and return America’s military to the appropriate state of readiness.
Of course, in order to do so, there will be a good deal more politicking ahead for President Trump and the GOP.
Image courtesy of Reuters