As your Representative, keeping America safe remains my first priority. As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, I am committed to ensuring that the federal government provides our military with the necessary resources to accomplish the missions that they have set to protect our nation from those who wish to do us harm.
Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations
H.R.4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, which passed the House with my support on May 18, 2012 by a vote of 299-120, authorized funding for national defense at $554 billion for the base budget and $88.5 billion in overseas contingency operations including Afghanistan. The bill provides our war fighters and their families with the care and support they need, deserve, and have earned; while ensuring that proposed drawdown plans do not cut to the heart of the Army and Marine Corps. It also provides our military with the resources, and authorities it needs to win the war in Afghanistan and continue to prosecute the wider War on Terror. The NDAA is currently awaiting action in the Senate.
Path to Prosperity
The Path to Prosperity budget passed the House on March 29, 2012. The resolution reaffirms a commitment to the men and women in uniform and ensures that national security remains the government’s top priority. The budget rejects proposals to make across-the-board cuts in funding for national defense, and provides $554 billion for national defense spending in FY2013, an amount consistent with America’s military goals and strategies.
The defense budget is currently slated to be cut by $55 billion, or 10 percent, in January of 2013 through the sequester mechanism enacted as part of the Budget control Act of 2011. This reduction would be in addition to the $487 billion in cuts over ten years proposed in President Obama’s budget. The Path to Prosperity acknowledges that defense spending needs to be executed with effectiveness and accountability; however, government should take care to ensure that spending is prioritized according to the nation’s needs, rather than treated indiscriminately with regard to cuts. Further, the House-passed budget recognizes the sacrifices that veterans and their families have made to ensure the continued security of our nation, and provides funding to afford the best care possible that veterans have bravely earned.
On October 21, 2011, President Obama announced the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and trainers from Iraq to be completed in 2011. Since January 1, 2012, the United States has maintained normalized relations with Iraq, and will continue to assist in the training of Iraqi forces, encouraging regional security, peace and respect for Iraqi sovereignty. I am encouraged by the progress that has been made in Iraq, and we must remain vigilant to ensure that the hard-won gains in Iraq do not slip away now that America’s combat participation has ended.
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States made a commitment to defeat those responsible for the horrific attack. As part of the broader war on terror, the U.S. military has effectively engaged our enemies in Afghanistan and employed counter-insurgency tactics to combat current threats to our national security. This military strategy necessitates enough troops on the ground to clear and secure areas, move onto subsequent locations while maintaining a level of operable safety. Commanders requested 33,000 soldiers, totaling deployment to 100,000, and the President initially complied with this request. However, on June 22, 2011, the President announced a withdrawal of the same number of troops timed to conclude just before the 2012 elections.
The withdrawal has the potential to pose security threats to soldiers continuing shorthanded counter-insurgency operations, as well as to compromise the larger mission in Afghanistan. Further, the Afghan citizens currently working with our troops to quell violence may view the withdrawal as a signal that our forces are no longer committed to the mission, which will serve to debilitate the long-term diplomatic, development and reconstruction efforts in the area.
I believe that the engagement in Afghanistan is necessary, and demands careful considerations for the safety of both our Armed Forces and citizens. Our own security at home depends on denying Al Qaeda and other terrorists a safe haven to operate from abroad such as Afghanistan. I continue to support providing our soldiers with the best possible equipment so they are able to complete their mission safely, effectively and on time so they can return to their families as soon as possible.
America has no better friend in the Middle East than the nation of Israel. Not only is Israel the region’s only fully functioning democracy, with a government based on popular consent and the rule of law, but it is also a valuable ally against Islamic extremism and terrorism. Our shared democratic values and national interests are supported by maintaining a close friendship with Israel. Americans also have a strong interest in Israel achieving a lasting peace with its neighbors – including the Palestinians.
Reasonable people – including those who live in the Middle East – differ about how the conflict between Israel and Palestine can be resolved. However, I believe at least one thing is clear: we cannot advocate for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that jeopardizes Israel’s safety or legitimizes terrorism. Hamas, which is one of the two major Palestinian political factions, is an Islamist terrorist group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence, and calls Osama Bin Laden a “martyr.”
While I do not have a role in the diplomatic discussions over the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, America should not pressure Israel to agree to a peace deal that is unlikely to result in peace and security. Real peace will require Palestinians to recognize that Israel has a right to exist, even as it will require two states for the two peoples. Introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on May 13, 2011, H. Res. 268 reaffirms the United States’ commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct negotiations. I co-sponsored this legislation, and it passed the House on July 7, 2011 by a vote of 407-13. I was also a cosponsor of H.R. 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, also introduced by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, which passed the House on May 9, 2012 by a vote of 411-2. H.R. 4133 states that it is United States policy to reaffirm the commitment to Israel’s security as a state, provide Israel with the military capabilities to defend itself, expand military and civilian cooperation, assist in a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize its right to exist.
Supporting Our Troops
We must not forget that we are a nation at war. The brave troops who serve our country worldwide have made and continue to make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of this nation. I am grateful for their service, and am dedicated to ensuring that they are provided with the necessary resources to achieve their missions safely and effectively and to return to their families as quickly as possible. Congress must also work to ensure that the families of these courageous individuals are thanked and cared for while their loved ones are away. As Congress continues to consider further legislation with regard to these issues, please rest assured that I will not lose sight of the effects that our national policy has on the lives of our troops and their families and the security of our nation.