By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The U.S. has been drastically cutting our Defense capabilities over the last several years anticipating a more peaceful planet following the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Reality on the ground however indicates that peace is not likely in our future as ISIS has invaded Iraq and the Taliban is still very relevant in Afghanistan. Accepting that new reality, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $577.1 billion defense policy bill with fewer cuts on Thursday, December 4. U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R from Montgomery) supported the Republican legislation.
Congresswoman Roby said in a written statement, “Ensuring that our service men and women have the funding and equipment they need to carry out their jobs is one of my top priorities in Congress. That’s why I voted today in support of the National Defense Authorization Act and hope that the Senate will do so next week.”
Rep. Roby said, “This bill helps maintain a strong military, which is vital in protecting the American people and our interests. We have seen how dangerous cuts to our defense programs can be and the detriment that sequestration has caused. I will continue to work to repair the damage done by these ill-conceived military cuts.”
U.S. Senator John McCain (R from Arizona) told the ‘Washington Times’ of the defense spending cuts, “They are destroying the military. That’s the words of the chief of staff of the Army and the commandant of the Marine Corp. It’s doing irreparable damage to the ability to defend this nation.” Sen. McCain is likely to be the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee in the new Republican controlled U.S. Senate.
U.S. House $577.1 billion budget rejected Defense Department request to ground the A-10 aircraft. The House also authorized purchases of five EA-18G Growler radar-jamming jets made by Boeing. The planes will coast an additional $450 million. The bill also rejected a new round of base closings. The Air Force proposal to shut down the A10 “Warthog” Thunderbolt II program would have saved $4 billion.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R from New Hampshire) wrote in a letter on November 15 signed by 30 lawmakers, “The A-10 plays an essential role in helping our ground forces and special operators accomplish their missions and return home safely.” “We oppose any effort that would divest the A-10, creating a CAS capability gap that would reduce Air Force combat power and unnecessarily endanger our service members in future conflicts.”
The House also agreed to purchase 96 new Tomahawk missiles. The Air Force had requested 100.
The bill passed the House 300-119. The Senate probably will follow suit this week. The annual defense policy bill sets military policy and spending targets for fiscal 2015, which started Oct. 1.
The legislation authorizes $577.1 billion in spending for national defense programs, which is down from $625.1 billion in the previous year. This includes $63.7 billion for overseas contingency operations. The bill also authorizes the training of moderate Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State terrorists, extends a ban on closing the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and bans new purchases of Russian rocket engines not already under contract for national-security space launches. The bill also increases pharmacy co-pays $3 for the Pentagon’s Tri-Care military health program in order to save money.
Original reporting by Bloomberg’s Roxana Tiron and the ‘Washington Times’ were used in this report.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.