Wittman Votes to Rebuild Military, VA-01 Priorities
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) released this statement after voting in favor of a full-year funding agreement for fiscal year 2018:
“I believe it is our primary constitutional responsibility to provide for our nation’s defense. In 2017, we had 80 military casualties during peace time training and operations versus 21 in combat operations. Just last week, we lost two more naval aviators in a F/A-18 crash during a training exercise due to failed equipment. This is, in part, a direct result of the lack of resources available for training, maintenance, modernization, and other essential readiness programs. This is unacceptable. As the chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, I have been constantly fighting to ensure our military has the resources it needs. That work is paying off. This legislation finally delivers the biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years. These resources are targeted at procuring new ships, aircraft, and tankers, in addition to boosting resources for key readiness programs, including training, ship maintenance, and base operations. This funding agreement is the most important thing we can do to ensure that our Armed Forces will be resourced at the correct levels, a crucial element of our national security.
“In some cases, our sailors have been working over 100 hours a week just to keep up with training requirements and current operations. Navy ships and submarines have remained in port and unable to perform their missions due to critical maintenance that can’t be performed because of budget cuts. This spending package invests $37.3 billion in ship maintenance, ship procurement, and recruitment that will draw new sailors to the Fleet and get our ships back at sea. For months we have continued to ask more and more of our men and women in uniform, while refusing to provide the adequate resources they need to do their jobs. Finally, we have delivered on our promise to provide the resources that will fully support our service men and women. This spending package ensures that our Armed Forces will have the resources they need to carry out their missions.
“This funding agreement supports our active duty service members, but also the veterans who have so valiantly served our nation, and who deserve the benefits they have earned and were promised. H.R. 1625 funds the biggest pay raise to our service members in eight years and includes increased funding for the Veterans Administration (VA). These resources will go towards opioid abuse treatment, better facilities, and increased quality of care so that we can create a world-class health care system that works for our active duty military and veterans.
“In addition to properly funding our military, this spending package funds many other VA-01 priorities. H.R. 1625 invests $21.2 billion in new funding for long over-due improvements to our infrastructure, allocates $73 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program, and provides more than $685 million for expansion of broadband services - which is approximately $625 million above fiscal year 2017. Investing in workforce development is critical to bridging the skills gap for our youth; this spending bill boosts funding for workforce development by including a $50 million increase for apprenticeship programs and a $75 million increase for career and technical education programs. The omnibus funds nearly $1 billion in mental health programs and includes two House-passed bills, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) and the STOP School Violence Act, that take action to bolster school safety.
"Although a huge step forward for our military, I’m still extremely concerned about increased domestic spending levels without addressing the fundamental problem of runaway, autopilot spending. I will continue to demand and support actions to reduce spending, especially autopilot spending. However, we must first address our readiness crisis and properly fund our military. Our military needs this spending package that fully supports our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and Airmen. This is what we need to keep America safe.”
The Consolidated Appropriations Act passed the House with bipartisan support and now awaits consideration by the Senate.
This bill provides record level funding to the VA, includes disaster aid, funds the fight against opioid abuse, maintains existing pro-life policies, cracks down on human trafficking, and combats sexual assault in our schools. Congressman Wittman remains committed to fiscal responsibility. Last year, Rep. Wittman also supported the House-passed budget that included more than $200 billion in cuts to mandatory spending programs and he will continue to advocate for responsible spending in Washington.
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.