WASHINGTON - Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) today released the following statements on President Trump's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018.
On the budget:
"This budget proposal rightly prioritizes defense, national security, and controlling spending on mandatory programs, which are the major drivers of our debt. And I support the efforts in this budget to reduce the deficit and debt.
“It is now up to Congress to review this proposal and make decisions about future spending. I will be working with my colleagues on the Budget and Appropriations Committees to ensure Virginia's interests are protected during that process, especially when it comes to defense spending and the Chesapeake Bay Program."
On defense spending:
"The world is not getting any safer and our defense budget must reflect that. The proposed $603 billion budget for the Department of Defense falls short of what is required to re-build our military, to modernize our worn-out equipment, and to support the force we need to deter conflict. I believe that $640 billion is the proper level of funding needed to ensure our military can respond to threats and keep our nation safe. A funding level short of $640 billion means that priorities such as raising the Marine Corps’ end strength to a force of 185,000, increasing our fleet to include 12 aircraft carriers, and continuing support to critical Air Force programs will be at risk."
On the Chesapeake Bay Program:
"The Chesapeake Bay is critical to the environmental and economic health of our region. And we have seen the success of the Bay Program through clearer water, more oysters and more blue crabs, demonstrating that the federal and multi-state partnership to restore the Bay is working. Eliminating this program would be shortsighted and unacceptable. I will continue making that case to my colleagues on the Budget and Appropriations Committees as this process moves forward."
Rep. Wittman has sent letters to the White House and House appropriators advocating against the budget cuts, highlighting the critical role the Bay plays in the region's economy.
On provisions related to federal employees:
"The federal workforce is full of dedicated and committed citizens who work hard in the name of public service. Therefore, I am disappointed that several provisions impacting federal employees are being used as a pay-for in this budget, including increases in employee contributions to the Federal Employee Retirement System. We continue to ask our federal civilian workforce to do more with less and that is the wrong approach. As Congress works on our budget going forward, I hope we reconsider this targeting of federal employees as an offset to deficit reductions and instead consider reduction efforts that focus on addressing the true drivers of our debt.”
Rep. Wittman has long been a champion of Virginia's federal employees, opposing arbitrary furloughs, hiring and pay freezes, restrictions on travel, and limited opportunities for career development that negatively impact workforce morale.
On the budget and appropriations process:
"Now that we have this budget proposal, my hope is the House Budget and Appropriations Committees can begin making headway towards passing the 12 appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2018. We have nine weeks until the August recess and this should be our focus until then. Another CR would damage military readiness and national security and we simply cannot afford that."
Rep. Wittman has again introduced the Stay on Schedule Resolution, which amends House rules to prevent members of the House from taking the traditional August recess when critical spending bills remain to be passed. Failure to pass the 12 annual spending bills prevents federal agencies like the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Transportation from meeting current demands and planning for the future. Given the importance of the spending bills, members of the House should stay in Washington until they are all passed.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.