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Opinion Pieces by Rob

Wittman: Biden defense budget compromises American security

Opinion: Biden defense budget compromises American security

By. Rep. Rob Wittman

May 21, 2022

The Virginian-Pilot


We are at a turning point in our nation’s history. Russian President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated his clear rejection of post-Cold War global order through his ferocious invasion into a sovereign nation. China remains the pacing challenge through their threat to open trade, human rights and democratic institutions. These menacing trends — along with other enduring security risks such as transnational terrorism — contribute to the increasingly dark security environment we confront today.

This was the time for the Biden administration to deliver a strong defense budget for Fiscal Year 2023 to demonstrate a serious commitment to the future of our military and the security of our country. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, the president sent Congress a defense budget that fails to keep pace with China and Russia.

The Biden administration’s inability to curb rampant inflation over the past year and excessive government spending, starting well before Putin’s attack on Ukraine, has left Americans hurting at the gas pump, in the supermarket and beyond. Now, by failing to acknowledge the consequences of failing policies, the Biden administration risked undermining our military power and strength.

Last month, speaking before the House Armed Services Committee, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley admitted: “The [defense] budget [request for FY 2023] assumes an inflation rate of 2.2%, which is obviously incorrect, because it’s almost 8%. It might go up, it might go down, but most forecasts indicate it’s going to go up and it could level out at 9 or 10%. Who knows, but it’s clearly higher than what the assumption was in this budget.”

Our top general said the Biden administration’s inflation assumptions were wrong.

Left unaddressed, the U.S. military will be set on a path of decline. The Biden administration’s budget request would decrease the end strength of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps from FY 2022 authorized levels. It would shrink the Navy from 297 ships down to just 290 ships by 2030, while China will grow its Navy to 460 ships by 2030.

This budget request not only has real consequences for the modernization and equipment we are able to deliver to our military, but it also impacts the livelihoods of our men and women in uniform.

This specifically impacts on the commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia is home to the Pentagon, 27 military bases, the largest military shipbuilder in the country, the world’s largest naval station at Naval Station Norfolk, and largest concentration of U.S. Navy forces, as well as many Department of Defense civilians.

The president’s defense budget request would only deliver a pay raise of 4.6% for servicemembers and civilian personnel. But once again, this increase will be eaten away by an inflation rate sitting above 8%. Our service members are struggling with soaring prices just like their fellow Americans. As the representative of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District, which is home to a significant, and growing, number of servicemembers and their families, I feel a personal sense of responsibility to get this budget right.

Fortunately, there is bipartisan support in Congress to right the wrongs in President Joe Biden’s inadequate and strategically unsound FY23 defense budget request, and I plan to be at the forefront of that fight. I stand ready and able to secure much needed investments in our military, to support and adequately compensate our men and women in uniform, and to ensure that our warfighters have the tools they need to be successful both today and in the future.

Read more here.