On Wednesday March 13, Rep. Jack Bergman, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee—along with all Republican members of the Committee—officially delivered their “views and estimates” of the President’s FY20 DOD budget request to the House Budget Committee.
In part, the Members said:
The primary job of the federal government is to provide for the common defense; yet today, only 15 percent of the budget is devoted to that task.
By comparison, it is was about 50 percent in the early 1960s.
We spend about 3.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product on defense and international affairs compared to the 15 percent of GDP we spend on federal payments to individuals.
In addition, while defense spending was cut about 20 percent in real terms starting in 2010, there was no similar reduction in the threats we faced which, in fact, increased and diversified in scale and complexity.
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Congress must consider defense funding on the basis of current and projected threats, not on the basis of an arbitrary cap or by attempting to balance defense spending with non-defense spending.
Entitlement spending is the driver of our fiscal challenges, and getting mandatory spending under control should be the focus of deficit reduction efforts.
Even if we were to eliminate the Department of Defense, the deficit would still exist. We must address our nation’s spending problem without compromising the defense of the nation and all we hold dear.
Several times before our Committee, Secretary Mattis and General Dunford testified that after Fiscal Year 2019, a minimum of three to five percent real growth in the defense budget would be required to continue to restore our readiness and to make progress in meeting the threats posed by near-peer competitors, such as Russia and China.
Therefore, we support defense budgets that meet this minimum threshold.