WASHINGTON – Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 6157 – Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019.
“This is the first time in ten years the Department of Defense will not operate under a continuing resolution (CR). During this time, we have reduced the size of our Army, Guard, and Reserve and allowed ourselves to reach a readiness crisis. These readiness shortfalls have led to insufficient time and resources to train sailors and maintain our ships, contributing to several accidents – including the fatal collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS McCain. After a decade of subjecting our service members to unstable, unreliable funding, we have finally provided the resources our warfighters need to be successful – on time.
“The Appropriations bill we passed today invests $22.9 billion to get our troops ready to deploy, $45.3 billion to get our planes back in the air, $38.2 billion to get our ships back to sea, and $11.8 billion to repair and sustain infrastructure including barracks, hangars, roads, runways, and hospitals. Not to mention, it fully funds a 2.6% pay raise to our men and women in uniform. Also included in this bill is a provision I have long championed – allowing the Navy to proceed with a dual buy of aircraft carriers, saving taxpayers billions and supporting our strong shipbuilding industrial base. On top of that, this final bill includes the 13 ships I fought for to allow us to rebuild to Navy of 355 ships.
“Other important aspects of this legislation include critical funding for medical research and job training, along with nearly $7 billion to fight the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our nation. We funded additional dollars for disaster relief for the victims of Hurricane Florence and boosted funding grants that support school safety programs that protect our children. With a record 6.94 million job openings right now, this bill increases funding for career and technical education programs by nearly $95 million. This is yet another step toward better preparing our students to get the skills and training they need to enter the 21st century workforce. On top of that, we extended funding for the Violence Against Women Act which goes towards combatting crimes of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“This funding bill is a step towards fixing our broken appropriations process. For the first time in 22 years, five of the twelve spending bills will be enacted before the start of the next fiscal year. While I am proud we appropriated three-quarters of federal dollars through regular order, this legislation unfortunately includes a short-term CR on the remaining funding through December 7, 2018. I am fundamentally against CRs as they lead to inadequate planning and continue to fund unnecessary programs. However, we have a constitutional imperative to provide for the common defense, and that is what we did here today. This legislation is the most important thing we can do to ensure that our Armed Forces will be funded, a crucial element of our national security. I represent many critical military bases in the First Congressional District: Marine Corps Base Quantico, NSWC Dahlgren, and Fort A.P. Hill. In Virginia, we are home to the largest Naval station in the world and boast a significant Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard presence. I refuse to deprive them of the resources they need to be successful in their missions.
“My decision today was not an easy one but was the right one. I remain 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. In the coming months as we consider the appropriations bills for the remaining sectors of our federal government, I will continue to offer strict oversight.
“We cannot continue to find ourselves here, pushing through spending deals at the 11th hour. As we move forward, I will continue to fight to restore regular order and accountability in Washington. My No Budget No Pay Act and Stay on Schedule Resolution require Congress to pass the budget and appropriations bills on time or we don’t get a paycheck or a vacation. These pieces of legislation would ensure Congress evaluates spending each year and makes the proper choices to reach fiscal responsibility.
“My vote today was a vote for our service members, a vote for our obligation to keep Americans safe.”
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.